The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday 3 July 2018

More Strolling Around The Schwarzwald

I think that we've been in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) for ten days now. Ten hot and sunny days, until today (after a 20-day run of fine weather, we can't complain about today's rain). My opinion formed over this time is that the Black Forest is a very pretty region, without being spectacular. We have seen no jagged peaks, but plenty of rounded hills, glorious summer meadows, characterful houses and lots of forest.

One of the joys of the region is the quality of signage of walking routes. At every junction where there is a choice of destinations, there will be a set of finger posts, with place names and distances, together with supplementary symbols where applicable (viewpoint, restaurant, parking, etc). If there is a junction of paths where there is not a choice of destinations, then there will be a waymarker just along the path/track/road you need to take in order to stay on course. That waymarking, combined with OpenStreetMaps, is sufficient to give confidence that we can amble around merrily in an area, even if no-one has loaded a gpx file into my favourite walking-route-sharing website:

Here are a few words and pictures about what we have been up to over the last three days (more info available for anyone who has the urge to read it, or to peruse more pictures, at

Sunday - Above Todtnauberg

We escaped the heat down in the town of Freiburg, where we had spent three uncomfortably hot nights, by heading up to a car park that sits at 1140m, above Todtnauberg. I didn't know what we would find there, other than some slightly cooler air and a nice-sounding spot to spend the night.

After our arrival we ran elevenses into lunch, whilst watching dozens of people come and go. Eventually curiosity got the better of us: what was the draw, bringing all of these people here? We headed off in the direction that most of them seemed to be heading, opting to head up Stübenvasen, a rounded hill that the signposts told us was a good viewpoint.

Every route we have walked thus far on this trip to Germany has featured so many benches that there would never be any call to sit on the ground for a break

Another seating option: a massive tree trunk, into which sun loungers have been built, with steps also built in to give access to them. The view wasn't too shoddy either.

The advertisement of Stübenvassen as a viewpoint was a little optimistic, given its rounded shape and the trees surrounding it, but we didn't have to venture far down a side trail to look over to Feldberg - the highest top in the area (1493m), and our destination for the following day.

Looking at Monday's hill from Sunday's

Different tracks (almost all heavily populated) took us a full circuit back to Bertie, where we arrived having covered a few yards shy of 5 miles, with a modest amount of ascent. That was quite enough for me, as I'd started my day early with a before-it-gets-too-hot 7-mile run along the river at Freiburg.

Monday - Feldberg
Our first outing of the day was to be the short trail along the waterfalls at Todtnau, but that got cancelled when we found (again!) that an access charge applied. Only €2 a head this time, as against the €5 required at Triberg last week, but my reasons for refusing to pay for waterfalls still stand (actually, had it only been €1 I probably would have seen it as an opportunity to dispose of the bag of small change that has built up over many trips).

Onwards to the parking area for the hill of Feldberg (1493m) we went, only to find that the expected €5 parking charge was now €12. Call me tight, but that was more than I was prepared to pay just to walk up a hill.

The walk was salvaged when we found a free car park at the bottom of the access road, adding only around 1.5km in total to our outing.

I hate to think how busy Feldberg would have been over the weekend. It was heaving even on a Monday morning, albeit it was a gloriously sunny one. The massive multi-storey car park, together with the option of taking a gondola* up the main ascent, must significantly help visitor numbers.

I'm sure that many of the visitors only go as far as the large monument/viewpoint just by the upper gondola station, but plenty do make the descent/reascent over to the summit proper:

A different route was taken for our descent, but we must have been feeling lazy, as we didn't complete the 12km circuit that had been our original intention, although with the extra distance up and down the access road, we did cover 9km.

(*The €10 price for a return ticket on the gondola also included entry to the Black Forest Ham Museum, which is situated on the hill's lower summit (around 1450m?). The top of a hill, at a ski resort, didn't strike us as the most obvious, or the most accessible, location for a museum - especially one about the local ham!)

Tuesday - Falkau Falls
"When does a bit of water falling off a step qualify as a waterfall?" asked Mick.

It was a fair question, as the raging torrent-- --impressive cascade modestly falling trickle before us didn't really warrant being the sole focal point for Falkau Wasserfall Rundweg (Waterfall Circular Walking Trail):

Perhaps our perspective on worthwhile waterfalls has been warped by all those we saw in Norway last year?

At least the surroundings were all pleasant, so it didn't feel like we'd had a wasted outing, and it wasn't like we'd driven out of our way or had a long walk to get there (I knew nothing about this waterfall until I saw it mentioned on a signpost near to where Bertie was parked last night).

Technically we could have completed the circuit, but as the wooden staircase down to the bridge was damaged (we descended with great care) and as the bridge was completely missing, obviously having been taken out by falling trees, we opted not to clamber across the stream to pick up the continuation of the walkway on the other side.

The damage is visible in this snap

Thunder had started rumbling as we had left Bertie and the sky was looking ominous, so we didn't mind scooting back the way we had come (i.e. the shortest route). A good choice: the rain came within two minutes of us reaching shelter.

I didn't measure this outing, but it can't have been much more than a couple of miles. They added themselves to the 3.5 mile circuit of forest trails I had already run first thing.

Unrelated to any of the text above, a pair of walking boots we found in Schluchsee today.


  1. It may have been on hateful Facebook? Somebody said Mick needs to get a new Tilley - nay! It's just getting run in and developing character. I had to ditch my old The Hat over a year ago because it was falling to pieces and have tried several others since with frustratingly disappointing results. Even as I write I am expecting delivery of yet another today, but only with pessimistic anticipation - I do so miss The Hat.

    1. I'm afraid that I'm one of the people that has been telling Mick that he needs a new hat. I've already sewn up one large hole, but there are so many more areas where the fabric is almost worn through that at some point the crown will part company with the brim. As Tilley provides free replacements for worn out hats, it seems to me sensible to take them up on the offer.

      I hope your new 'Potential The Hat Replacement' hasn't disappointed.