Our summer break this year is a touch more than ambitious as we want to cover the Mosel, Black Forest and then into the Lauterbrunnen Valley to meet up with our friends for a week walking, then working our way back through the Alsace.
We left home after breakfast and made our usual stop at Brentwood to see our friends then continuing down to Folkstone to catch the early evening train to Calais. We headed towards Lille and stopped the night at Warneton, a motorhome friendly parking spot just outside the village, right on the French/Belgian border. After breakfast we headed towards our first stop – Mehring on the banks of the Mosel. We stayed here for 4 days just cycling or walking along the banks of the river. We now have a secret weapon – Peggy. Peggy is a Piaggio MP3 – 250ie maxi scooter and it fits neatly inside the garage of our Flair – leaving enough room for our bicycles and we are still inside our weight limit.
Peggy – Our secret Weapon
While at Mehring we used Peggy to make a couple of trips into Cochem, Berncastle and Trier. We also made a trip to Schweich which is an easy cycle ride from Mehring and we spent a pleasant day there looking around the village and picnicing by the small marina. During our stay on the Stellplatz we were fortunate it was the cherry season. Our host at the Stellplatz kindly allows his customers to pick the cherries in his orchard so we took a bowl and each day picked fresh cherries to eat after dinner – gorgeous. We purchased a couple of cases of their wine which we find excellent for summer BBQ’s
From Mehring we headed away from the Mosel to the wine route town of Neustadt in der Weinstrasse – where there is a pleasant Stellplatz not far from the centre of the town. We were fortunate as the day we arrived they were celebrating one of the many wine festivals. The town square was full of local events – all in local costumes and included a guest appearance of the Lincoln Poachers, a Morris Dancing group that originate not more than 20 miles from our home village. There are many sights to see in Neustadt including the fountain with a story, the two bell towers side by side and it is just very pleasant to sit in the square and watch the world go by.
Neustadt in der Weinstrasse
Fron here we decided to head over to look around Heidleberg – a city we hadn’t visited for over 40 years, Peggy came in very handy here as the Stellplatz we were staying at was over 9 miles away from Heidleberg centre and just a little too far to cycle given we would be walking round the town, climbing up to see the castle and walking around the banks of the river
Necar to see the the famous bridge with the castle high up on the hill behind. Heidleberg is a university town and it shows with hundreds of students milling around – many foreign students included.
From here we headed south into the Black Forest region and to Oppenau as our first stop.
There are several walks in the hills around Oppenau and the Tourist Information Office were particularly friendly and keen to assist. There is also a swimming pool complex next door to the Stellplatz. We made use of Peggy again and travelled around the area, visiting the 90 mtrs ski jump and waterfall near Seebach. The monastery ruins at Ottenhofen where there still is a youth hostel is also worth a visit.
From Oppenau we headed south to the village of Schonach, in the hills above Triberg. The Stellplatz is well laid out and you are trusted to buy a ticket from the Tourist Information Office some 2 kms down the valley. What the sign doesn’t tell you is the reward for buying a ticket – a free pass into the Triberg waterfall park.
The entry fee to the park is more than the nightly charge at the Stellplatz. Triberg is really a wall to wall cuckoo clock shop with shops claiming to have over 1000 clocks on display. You must also visit the world’s largest cuckoo clock some halfway between Triberg and Schonach
World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock
Until this point our trip had been favoured with good weather, however it went downhill at this point with a serious drop in temperature but more worrying was the mist and low cloud, cutting visibility down to not more than 100 mtrs. We even experienced sleet and then realised we were over 4000 foot high – so I guess not too surprising. The local forecast predicted the poor weather and low temperatures to continue for the coming few days. Now one of the benefits of camper vans is that you are not tied to a specific place so we upped sticks and fled west to Strasbourg and camping Mont Vert. Strasbourg old town is a real quaint town and completely different from the new town that houses the European Parliament. Each visit here we always intend to visit the Parliament buildings but somehow our love of politicians kill the enthusiasm and we never make it.
The lighting display in Old Strasbourg
Strasbourg in summer has an absolute must see – During the months of July and August they illuminate the old town and in particular the cathedral. Not only that but each night from 10pm until midnight (times may vary other years) they provide a musical display that is linked into the lights. The result is that as the lights flash in different colours onto the cathedral in time with the music. This is a magical display and not to be missed.
Following the display if you can drag yourselves away, a walk around the town rivers and canals will also reveal a series of music and light displays that are really good. Even during the day the walks around the old town are really worthwhile and you can do it by water boat on the river/canal and circumnavigate the town.
From Strasbourg we headed south to the town of Kaysersberg as we were now reaching the time when we would need to be crossing into Switzerland to meet up with our walking team. Here in Kaysersberg we fitted in a walk through the vines to the village Riquewhir – for us one of the more pleasant walks in the area.
Kaysersberg has a whole wealth of places to visit including the castle, museum and more caves (wine tasting variety) than you can shake a stick at. However we wanted to be heading further south so off we went to a new place called Chavannes L’etang. A quiet village not far from Mulhouse and within easy reach or Basle. The residents of Chavanne are keen cyclists and regularly arrange cycle races around the village, through the woods and lakes and all are welcome to join in. We decided to walk around the current route that took us into the woods and around the lakes – a very pleasant experience. We certainly will be visiting here again.
Well now we come to the main event. We arrived in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and after reviewing the locale decided to stay at the Camping International some 500 mtrs from the railway station and 200 mtrs from the hotel where our friends were staying. We took a chance and purchased a 6 day rail pass so we had the freedom to roam around the area unhindered. The passes aren’t cheap at around £100 each but its not too difficult to get in front by using the passes to the full.
There are so many things to do, places to see in the Lauterbrunnen Valley that a week is never enough so after much discussion we elliminated some “must see’s” and settled on a compromise. On day one we went up to Wengen, then up again to Kline Schiedegg and walked all the way back down alongside the rail track. This is a lovely walk as you can look over the valley at Murren and the Schildhorn mountain, also known as Piz Gloria in the famous James Bond film.
Day two took us back up the Kleine Schiedegg but this time a walk down to Grindlewald and the train back up and around down to Lauterbrunnen. Again this is a beautiful walk with good views of the north face of the Eiger and a fabulous panarama across the valley from the Mannlichen to the Schynige Platte.
Day four saw us back on the train to Mannlichen and then take the path back down to Grindlewald. This is a lovely walk without any of the demanding ups and downs.
This time in Grindlewald we decided to visit the gorge at Pfinstegg. This is well worth the visit as the walkway takes you through the gorge just above the river. For the brave hearted you can pay for a bungy jump from the top down into the gorge.
Day six saw us across the opposite side of the valley and up the new cable car for a walk into Murren and around the village.
Wengen and Lauterbrunnen looking down
We were blessed with good weather for most of the time, a little misty at times on top with only one day of intermittent rain. We had walked over 50 miles, not a lot in distance but when you consider the ups and downs that was not a bad week and no breakages. Now we were on our way back but decided not to risk going back into the Black Forest proper but couldn’t resist a detour into Baden Baden for a genuine Black Forest Gateau – well worth it.
We then decided we needed a rest so headed north to the Mosel for a few days R&R – this turned out to be a good move as we had a real downpour that revealed a leak in the roof light. As we were near to Polch, the home of the manufacturers of our Flair we diverted into the factory for a repair.
We left Polch and went to Wintrich for our last couple of days before heading home. Winttrich is very similar to Mehring, being right on the banks of the Mosel. The main site difference is the telegraph poles used to separate the pitches which gives you a defined space for your €5 per night. From here it is an easy trip back to Calais and the tunnel.
Time away: 36 days Distance Travelled 1327 miles Cost of ferry: £144 (Courtesy of Tesco) Cost of fuel: £312.22 Cost of LPG: £43.10 Cost of Tolls: £0.00 Cost of campsites £285.10 Fuel cost for Peggy £12.18
Swiss Carnet £18.00
Exchange rate: £1 = €1.05