Bohemia and Bavaria, October 2017
Helen Rose Outdoors Diary
The Bearsden and Milngavie Ramblers arrange annual walking holidays abroad and this year we had a special treat Peter and Helena otganised an extended trip to the Czech Republic to Šumava Region in the west of Bohemia, near the Bavarian Border in Germany. We had six days walking with a choice of walks and, just to be tourists, two days of trips to towns. Over and above we had a trip to a very lovely town of Pisek on our way from Prague to Šumava and on our return to Pilsen, the home of Pilsner lager where we visited the Brewery Museum and lunched in the Urquell Brewery vaults ,which has specialised in bottom-fermented beer since 1842. There was so much to see and describe that I will limit it to describing three walks and two towns visited.
We were based at the very comfortable Hotel Horizont near the village of Špičácké Sedlo. The view from the window was of rolling hills covered in trees. The area has walking and cross country skiing in the winter. It is a spa resort with good facilities to relax in. On the third walking day we travelled by bus to Dreisessel which is in Bavaria, Germany. After coffee at the lodge, we started the walk on a good path. All the trees were bare stumps as there had been extensive damage to the pine trees by the bark beetle. The area looked very desolate but we had the advantage of open views as this had previously been forest. One side of the path was the Czech Republic and the other side was Germany. At the end of the border ridge path we came to the monument marking the convergence of three borders of Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany. There were convenient picnic benches for lunch and for looking out over the three countries.
The second walk, later in the week, was to the Großer Arber, German for Great Arber. This is the highest peak of the Bavarian/Bohemian Forest mountain range, with an elevation of 1,455.5 metres (4,775 ft). Although geographically belonging to the larger Bohemian Forest range, it is often referred to as “King of the Bavarian Forest”. We took the gondola up to the restaurant near the top and had coffee and cake while we looked out at the rain and wind. As usual, the weather can be unpredictable in the mountains and we struggled up the path to reach the cross designating the top. On the descent we passed a little church dedicated to some German climbers. The descent took us to Großer Arbersee, the lake on the valley floor. There was a convenient German Bar selling delicious Apple Strudel and coffee – providing us with refreshment before a walk around the lake. We saw the beaver lodges at the side of the lake, a feat of chewing though tree branches to build a dam to provide still, deep water to protect against predators, and to float food and building material.
We had an all day excursion to Český Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Southern Bohemia. Most of the architecture of the old town and castle dates from the 14th to the 17th centuries; the town’s structures are mostly in Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. The centre of the old town is within a horseshoe bend of the river, with the old neighborhood and castle on the other side of the Vitava River. The castle is unusually large for a town of its size. Within the Czech Republic it is second in size only to the castle complex in Prague. Inside its grounds are a large rococo garden with fountains, an extensive bridge over a deep gap in the rock upon which the castle is built, and the castle itself, which in turn consists of many defined parts dating from different periods. We had a tour of the castle and a walk in the garden. The Egon Schiele Gallery http://www.schieleartcentrum.cz/en/ in the town was interesting, an artist known for his notoriety and imprisonment but he was accomplished as a landscape and townscape painter. A lovely day ended by sitting by the river for coffee.
Our second day trip was to Regensburg, an UNESCO World Heritage site in Bavaria, Germany. Regensburg on the Danube River is known for its well-preserved medieval core. The 12th century Stone Bridge, a 310m long icon with 16 arches crosses the river to the old town. Unfortunately, work was being carried out on the old bridge so we could not see it clearly. The 13th century St Peter’s Regensburg Cathedral, a twin-spired Gothic landmark, is home to the Regensburger Domspatzen (Cathedral Sparrows) choir. We had a city tour tracing the city back from before Roman times and through its medieval history. We passed an old house where Goethe, the German writer and statesman from the 18th and 19th centuries is reputed to have stayed. On the way back to Šumava we stopped off on the outskirts of Regensburg at Walhalla, a Parthenon replica honouring illustrious Germans. Walhalla is named for the Valhalla of Norse Paganism. It was conceived in 1807 by Crown Prince Ludwig in order to support the gathering momentum for the unification of the many German states. Following his accession to the throne of Bavaria, construction took place between 1830 and 1842. It is an impressive sight from the motorway on top of a hill.
On the last day we took a very unusual single chairlift to Pancíř. It took a lot of persuasion by Helena for me to travel up on this chairlift. As usual, we had a coffee at the top before joining the E6 (a long distance route from Finland to Turkey), down through the forest to the hotel. There were ample opportunities to look at the variety of wild mushrooms as we had Norwegian, German and Czech walkers who were all knowledgeable about mushroom picking. It was a wonderful trip and many thanks to Peter and Helena for organising it with so much to see in both countries and lots of interesting walks. A lovely hotel with some evening entertainment and dancing. Perfect.
Coming attractions; North Germany and Windermere
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This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary
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