Review: Black Forest
Exploring the Westweg
78 people found this review helpful
It may seem strange to write a review and then say that I don't think you should try this but that is exactly what I am about to do! Let me explain. In 2012 my son (a fit 40 year old police officer) walked through the Black Forest in Germany along the Westweg. He started in Pforzheim and finished in Basel in Switzerland ten days later. He wanted to do it again this year and I decided that I would like to accompany him. In retrospect, the fact that I am 63 years old and probably not as fit as I think I am should have made me wary of taking on such a marathon task. However, in June 2013 we flew out to Stuttgart and got the train to Pforzheim. A short walk to Kupferhammer, a photo stop at the arch marking the start of the Westweg and we were off! Unfortunately, the day we began the walk was the day Europe suddenly had record breaking weather. It was so hot that within a few kilometres we were dripping with sweat and many parts of that route are quite open without shade from the trees! In fact this stretch of the Westweg isn't that spectacular, you pass through some sweet little villages that look more Austrian than german but with a lot of it I felt it was not dissimilar to London's Green Chain Walk!
We arrived in Dobel 8 hours later, very hot, very tired and with the first signs of blisters on my feet. I was very grateful for those wonderful german down filled duvets that night and I slept really well. The next day, fortified by a large continental breakfast we headed off again. Lots of uphill climbs this morning but this did give us spectacular views of the valleys below. A stop in Kaltenbronn for an enormous ice cream sundae, a detour to climb Kaiser Wilhelms tower (even greater views from the top) and we arrived at our next stop in Forbach some 9 hours and 26 kms later. Now this is where I think anyone wanting to do this walk should consider choosing overnight stops closer to each other. 26 kms is a long way to walk each day and if I were to do a similar walk again I would definitely go for a less gruelling schedule. From Forbach we walked to Mummelsee. This part of the route is dotted with wonderful mountain meadows with numerous species of wild flowers, quite stunning! Our hotel in Mummelsee was spectacular. The Berghotel Mummelsee is set right on the Westweg, by a boating lake with a few little shops nearby. It is quite luxurious and putting my feet up on the balcony after 24.5 kms was very welcome!
The next day we went from Mummelsee to Bad-Griesbach. This walk took us along the spine of a high valley with splendid views. As the hotel here was slightly off the Westweg we followed a beautiful river along to our destination and I was more than excited to find that our guesthouse this night had a bath instead of just a shower! I could at last soak those aching feet (we had done another 26 kms today). Next leg of the route was from Bad Griesbach to Wolfach. A 2 hour climb out of the valley this morning made for an exhausting start and by now my poor feet were swaddled with so many plasters I was beginning to resemble a geisha girl! Most of todays walk was in a dense forest and I was seriously beginning to wane after 26 kms. The next morning one blister was particularly sore and angry looking so I decided to let my son go off on his own and I got a taxi to our next hotel. Before leaving I had a swim in the hotel pool and sat in the sun on the balcony until my taxi arrived. The taxi took me to Schomach and that was painful, not because of my feet but because the taxi cost a whopping 71 euros!! On arrival in Schomach, being Sunday, everything was closed so it was a very quiet day of reading my kindle and putting my feet up. If I had felt more able I could have got the bus to nearby Triberg, a little town famed for its waterfalls and cuckoo clocks. Refreshed, the next day we walked from Schomach to Kalte Herberge. A mere 22kms, this was a pleasant even walk, past cows, horses and more beautiful wild flower meadows. The weather was cooler now and we had a few showers but it was quite an easy non-exhausting day. Our hotel, The Gasthaus Kalte Herberge, was very traditional. Our hostess was even dressed in traditional german costume and we enjoyed a hearty meal in their restaurant.
Really into the swing of this walking lark now, the next day we walked 21.5 kms in 5.5 hours and ended the trek in a lovely town called Titisee. It has the largest lake in the Black Forest and numerous souvenir shops and restaurants. It was nice to be in a small town for a change instead of the family run pensions we had been staying in. The next day we headed off up the Feldburg mountain. We decided to cheat a little and take the cable car up to the top. After spending an hour or so admiring the views we started heading off down the other side of the mountain. I began to notice that afternoon that I was getting pain in my shins. 24 kms later I was in agony! When we arrived at the Hotel Gastof Hirschen in Wieden I was barely able to walk!. I later discovered that what I had was "shin splints" caused by too much exertion (yes, there had been a lot of that), uneven surfaces (most of the trails were stony and uneven) and walking downhill (hence why it had started as we descended the Feldburg mountain). The next day my legs were red, tight and extremely painful. This was when we discovered an incredible scheme called the "Konus Gaste Karte". If you stay in one of the hotels or guesthouses enrolled in this scheme you can ask for the Konus Gaste karte when you leave. It gives free bus, train or tram travel to your next destination. I did not want to ruin my sons plans so whilst he headed off towards his next port of call, Obereggen, I limped down to the bus stop and caught 2 buses and a train to Basel. Arriving a day early, the hotel we had booked did actually have a free room and my son joined me the following night when he finally finished his walk in Basel, It meant I had a whole day free in Basel and although it is not one of the most beautiful cities in the world it is very interesting with numerous museums ranging from anatomy to toys. I also took a day cruise on the Rhine which was very interesting especially when, at one point, we had Germany on one side of us, France on the other and Switzerland behind us! So do I recommend walking the Westweg in the Black Forest? I most definitely do but I would suggest a mixture of walking on some days and using the Konus Gaste Karte to experience public transport and save your legs on the others!
78 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.