Monthly Archives: July 2015

KING LUDWIG WAY – no man’s land.

                                                     Rottenbuch  –  Trauchgau.

Most long-distance walks have a section just to get from A to B using the least painful way. On some previous routes I’ve cheated and hitched across dreary road sections. Today, with one exception didn’t promise much. Progress at first was slow and hesitant, little lanes going everywhere through traditional farming land. The signs and map didn’t agree, re-routing?, but I came out eventually near Wildsteig with views over Schwaig See with alpine peaks in the background. As you can see the weather is average. Navigated more lanes out of Wildsteig and through a nature reserve to head for Wies with its famous church. I’ve certainly had the paths to myself and mostly the churches too, therefore it came as a shock when a coach park appeared discharging hoards of international humanity to the cafes and souvenir stalls around the church. After all the hype that this was the height of Bavarian Baroque I didn’t appreciate this church as well as others. Maybe the crowds put me off. Shame they have allowed trees to grow so close to the front as they hide the architecture of the doorways which incidentally were being renovated.Met Uli the pilgrim outside for a catch up, he was eagerly waiting to go inside. I went for the popular Bavarian  ‘kaffee  und kuchen’ in one of the nearby gasthofs.tmp_SAM_4241-1446470855

The afternoon was on a traffic free lane accompanied by the tinkling of the occasional bike bell and the continuous cow bells – the alps were getting closer. My hotel for the night was well situated in the countryside outside Trauchgau in the Halblech area and as a bonus had a pool and sauna which were greatly appreciated after a day in no man’s land.





KING LUDWIG WAY – the Ammer Gorge.

                                              Hohenpeissenberg  –  Rottenbuch.

Had such a good breakfast that I seemed to be in a daze for the first hour, fortunately I was on easy to follow tracks. The church up on Hohenpeissenberg ridge wouldn’t go away.The only decision I had to make was when to turn right in the dense forest. Then it was steeply down to the Ammer River at times going through prehistoric vegetation. tmp_SAM_4076-1537251964There was an hunting lodge at the bottom where I sat relaxing in the sun for awhile. I was joined by a hot and sweaty pilgrim, Uli whom I kept meeting yesterday, he had missed that right turn!

Pilgrim's Rest.

Pilgrim’s Rest.

I walked alongside the river till I reached an interesting wooden roofed bridge.

I expected to continue into the base of the gorge, but the path climbed up the side of the gorge. It then traversed high in the trees for a couple of hours,with sparse views to the river below. The path hugged vertiginous slopes often with the aid of ramshackle wooden bridges – certainly not ‘vorsprung durch technik’. At one point a steep slope was negotiated using an old climbing rope as a handrail.

Safely down I found a little beach for a late lunch. Then it was back up to the top of the gorge, out of the trees and into meadows leading to Rottenbuch. You enter through the monastery complex with the prominent church and its separate belltower. I thought that the Baroque interior of the church was probably the most impressive I’ve seen so far. As you entered there was an immediate ‘wow’ factor. The colours were more subtle and the stucco work more detailed than elsewhere. Out of interest I wonder how sinful the 18th century congregations were, there were 5 or 6 confessionals down either side of the church. A really worthwhile visit to end the day. Now off to the simple cafe/hotel for the night and typical Bavarian fare.






KING LUDWIG WAY – the rococo road.

                                       Ðiessen  –  Wessobrun. –  Hohenpeissenberg.


Marienmuenster Ðiessen.

I talked yesterday of a pilgrimage to Andechs and today realised that I’m on the Munich to Santiago de Compostela route.  Hence along the way are numerous shrines, churches and monasteries. I met a man, complete with staff and shell, who had just started a few days ago – only 2600k to go. I remember when I made the journey by bike from Le Puy in France there were many Germans on the road.

Anyhow to the more mundane – how far is it from Ðiessen to Windermere? 

I only know this because of the above sign, the towns are apparently twinned. I had been previously been surprised as I walked up Ðiessen’s main street to see a red English phone box (complete with modern phone system), a gift from Windermere. A strange start to the day.

Ðiessen is dominated by its parish church, The Marienmuenster. This was my first stop today. Typical of this area it is decorated in the Baroque/Rococo style of the 17th and 18th centuries. The domed clock tower was perfectly proportioned. Internally white stucco with swirling golden giltwork, potent romanticised paintings, elaborate altar. The overpowering ceiling artwork, the ornate pulpit and the organ gallery took my attention. This pattern was to be repeated in every church passed today, and there were quite a few. When I look at my photos I’m not sure which was which, so I won’t bore you with too many.Marienmuenster altar

Walking out of Ðiessen brings you into pretty countryside, meadows with the German alps in the background. Being Sunday more people were out on the well signed trails. Haven’t met any Brits yet. Ahead I could also see the prealp of Hohenpeissenberg, 988m which I would climb much later in the day. A long winding route through a forest kept me in the shade but I was plagued by horseflies, lots of itchy lumps tonight. Next stop was the Abbey complex at Wessobrunn, this was surprisingly quiet after yesterday’s experience. Interesting church, a free standing bell tower and the monastery buildings. I ignored the obviously busy inn nearby hoping to have a break at the next further on, but it was closed on arrival. Bird in the hand moral. Little used paths dropped into a gorge and over a rotting bridge, the KLW was signed elsewhere but I stuck with my guidebook. Written in 1987 by the Speakmans it is still surprisingly accurate, nothing much has changed in these parts.

Classic alpine farmland followed on the undulating landscape, the farmhouse cum barns are surprisingly large but all well kept. Little used lanes threaded through the countryside and took me to the small hamlet of St. Leonhard I’m Forst where there was of course a delightful Baroque church to visit.

I was glad to be out of the next stretch of pine forrest only to confronted by the steep climb up Hohenpeissenberg, 988m. The last steep meadow led to the pilgrim church, meteorology observatory, gasthof and of course crowds of people. There were views back to Andechs above the Ammersee. On the Southern I sat for awhile and admired the view across the valley to the Alps including Germany’s highest – Zugspitze at 2962m. tmp_SAM_4012177177016

A quick visit to the interior of the church to view the paintings… … and then I was seated on the balcony of Bayerischer Rigi enjoying a drink, meal and that fabulous view. 300m down  the otherside in no time to my lodgings on an industrial estate next to the station. Turned out to be 1st class.








KING LUDWIG WAY – a day of Pilgrimage.

                                                Starnberg to Herrsching / Ðiessen.

Andechs Abbey.

It started well, a filling, early breakfast and I was confidently walking through the streets of Starnberg. But something wasn’t right as I wasn’t leaving the Lake, after 500m I turned about and retraced to the centre. There it was –  the street I should have taken completely closed and dug up, no wonder I missed it. Feeling cross with myself having wasted 20mins I stode round the obstruction and  on into a small gorge of conglomerate limestone. Walking by a lively stream I quickly left the dog walkers behind. I realised I was walking through a military zone by all the signs. There is something about the German word Verboten that makes you sit up and obey, I must have watched too many 2nd rate war films. Safely out of the war zone I was soon in green meadows and following gravel paths towards the Maisinger See. Another sign had to be obeyed – out came my poles. A welcoming gasthof on the shore providing a coffee break entertained by the village tots (some as young as five)  diving in. Farmland, with distant alpine peaks on the horizon, led to the small village of Aschering with its pretty church.  As well as following the KLW signs I was on a signed Pilgrimage route heading for the monastery at Andechs, holy ‘relics’ were found here and a Benedictine Abbey established in 1455. Soon it became a popular place of Pilgrimage in Bavaria. The original Gothic church was destoyed by fire and the 18th century replacement was an orgy of the Baroque style of local artists. And so it is today. Coming out of the trees I thought it was in sight but this first church turned out to be part of a prison complex, certainly no Pilgrimage to there.

Once the real Andechs Abbey was in sight I was on a ‘holy way’ and passing the holy shrines. These contained beautiful relief depictions of the stations of the cross – you know the story. tmp_SAM_37912016082499

The lane led up into the Abbey and it was here I realised there was another Pilgrimage taking place. The noise level built up and you realised that over 50% of the Abbey grounds was occupied by a drinking and eating parlour, and the party was in full swing! It was a steady flow of frothing tankards and piles of food. The Abbey is famous for its wheat beer brewed here for centuries. The church interior is hard to describe, think gilt. Some of the original treasures were saved. Today the opulence of it all was softened by a girls choir singing simple arpeggio hymns – quite moving for a hardened soul like mine. My Pilgrimage was completed by a glass of the famous dark beer, I opted for the smaller 500ml rather than the litres most were quaffing.

Made quick progress down through another delightful, wooded gorge to the busy town of Herrsching for the boat across the Ammersee. The lake was a mad flurry of hundreds of sail and kite boarders all enjoying the very windy conditions. I was impressed that the ferry didn’t plough into any of them as we crossed. Ðiessen came as a peaceful relief and my lakeside lodgings were perfect.




KING LUDWIG WAY – Prologue or Epilogue.

Here I am on the Starnbergersee in  Bavaria to start the King Ludwig Way. This is really the end of the story as in June 1886 King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his physician were found dead in the lake. Did he drown or more likely was he murdered? He had succeeded to the throne in 1864, aged 18, and led an interesting and increasingly eccentric life. Towards the end of his reign he gathered enemies who wanted him out of the way! This walk starts from the site of the cross in the lake where his body was found. More of him later.

Arrived courtesy of EasyJet and the efficient and user friendly S-Bahn from Munich. Very warm evening as I wandered past some impressive mansions in the back streets of Starnberg in search of food. Stumbled across the busy no frills Gasthof in Der Au. Sat outside but must remember some mosquito repellant next time. Didn’t have a clue with the menu but found  a Gemuseplatte which turned out to be perfect, wish they could cook veg like this in England. My first glass of Bavarian beer was a Paulaner Helles hoppy lager from Munich, seemed to match the situation. Looking around me I couldn’t miss the large portions of food being devoured by equally large people, will have to be careful this trip. And I haven’t seen breakfast yet.

Caught a morning ferry across the lake to Leoni where I came ashore, leaving the rest of the tourists to their 2hr trip around the lake. After the obligatory coffee I found my way along the shore to the cross in the water marking the site of King Ludwig II’s death. He died shortly after being exiled to Berg here. His opposition felt he was becoming insane and also wanted the power of Bavaria reduced under Prussia. The chapel commemorating the event was under scaffolding for renovation, disappointing.

I must have walked past Schloss Berg, where he was incarcerated, without realising; there are so many vast mansions along the shoreline, this a rich area and playground for Munich folk. Maybe this was it…

About now I started to notice the K waymarks for my route, from now on abbreviated to TKLWay. It was sweltering by early afternoon so I joined the locals and had a swim in one of the bays. Very refreshing and I dried off as I walked along finishing a short day back at Starnberg.

Not a bad way to start a long distance walk. As there is already one image of a glass of beer on this post can’t possibly show you  the weissbier I’m about to enjoy, you’ll just have to imagine it.

Climbing on fossils – Walkin’ on snow white – Trowbarrow.

Walked into Trowbarrow just as Matus was topping out on Jean Jeanie [from Jean Genie and Jean Genet – look it up].  Happily tied in and pulled onto the steep wall knowing there would be little respite in the next 100ft. I haven’t climbed here for 15 years, on that occasion I led  this route for Dor who desperately wanted to do it as possibly her last climb. I didn’t mention the polish or loose holds. She climbed it without a rest, was knackered at the top but still able to celebrate in the beer garden of The New Inn.

Then that was a hot summer’s  afternoon, now today was cooler with a strong wind threatening to blow you off the wall. Bowie was “walkin’ on snow white”  [a different chalk!]  but for today we are climbing on fossils. The whole face is a bed of limestone encrusted with worm-like fossils which has been tilted 90 degrees to the vertical. You have to trust your feet on the protruding fossils to make good progress.

Climber midway on Jean Jeanie.

Climber midway on Jean Jeanie.

Nearing the top.

Nearing the top.

Jean Jeanie – classic track – classic route.

Despite Alan and I wanting a quick snack Matt was ready for another route, Harijan. Further right on this main wall is another crack system but this time its base is barred by an overhung blocky niche. [Any further right and you are under the most unstable looking roofs – climb at your peril. See photos, though nothing much has fallen down recently.]  Awkward climbing leads up to the roof  from where a shuffle left takes you out onto the front face and up into the crack where easier progress is made to the top, again making good use of fossils for your feet.

Some little gems on the quarry floor………SAM_3559

THREE MEN AND A MAP – The Limestone Link.

The Limestone Link [LL] is a 13mile walk between Arnside and Kirkby Lonsdale. The plan involved two cars, I met The Rockman and The Teacher already parked up at Arnside and then drove us in my car to Kirkby Lonsdale. This meant we had lots of last minute decisions to make ensuring all gear and essentials were in the right car at the right time and place, not easy for our blurred minds first thing. We had the 1:25000 map marked with the route for the west end but not for the east, One of our party suggested we wouldn’t need the latter as the route would be well waymarked but last evening I spent a bit of time on the computer and printed out a segment around Kirkby. There was ample free parking at the popular Devil’s Bridge, our staring point. As we arrived we were swamped by hundreds of teenagers, admittedly well behaved and friendly, all going for a walk – surely not the Limestone Link!  A teacher informed us, as 800 marched past, that it was their annual charity 20k walk fortunately in the other direction over the Barbon Fells. Hope they had a good day, the weather was perfect for us all. As calm descended we had time for coffee and a look over the bridge at the attractive River Lune flowing over limestone slabs.

We thought it strange there were no LL signs or markers to be seen as we left the bridge across a park. Within a few yards The Teacher realised his boots weren’t comfy as he had forgotten the insoles, back to the car to change into trainers, fortunately taken. Quickly climbing into fields on vague paths we were soon clustered round my little piece of inadequate photocopy. The ‘route’ seemed to be following a limestone ridge so we just kept to that as much as possible, we knew we were heading to Hutton Roof.  Behind us Ingleborough stood proud as usual, ahead was more gentle rolling countryside. A couple of diversions to avoid hay being cut and a bull saw us walking up the surprisingly steep lane into Hutton Roof. I was more familiar with the territory here as this was once a regular spot to come bouldering on the limestone outcrops up the hill. But the paths were overgrown with bracken and my memory faded, out came the real map and even the compass for onward progress. Have to admit it was delightful, once out of the bracken, on the flower strewn limestone with views back over the outcrop towards Ingleborough. Northerly views to the Lakes etc were rather poor in the heat haze. A good spot for a snack.

A winding track through shrubs led on down to a lane below Holme Fell where where we came across a LL sign, the first evidence we were on the correct route. Perversely within a hundred yards or so we were lost in a profusion of paths mostly  going up Holme Fell, more clustering around the map and compass had us back on track over the side of the fell down the bridleway to the road. Looking back up right was Farleton Fell another regular bouldering area from the past, we were surprised to see how far it appeared from the road. We were now in a sort of no-mans-land of M6, Railway and A6 between the limestone uplands.

We were glad to escape from an unpleasant  loop on a busy road onto the tranquil canal side.

No-mans-land with Farleton Fell.

No-mans-land with Farleton Fell.

Navigated safely through the surprisingly extensive village of Holme and onwards to Hale. Here things improved as we entered the limestone woods at Slack Head [our second LL signpost!]. There were unmarked footpaths everywhere through this delightful maze, at times directly on the bare limestone pavement. Little country lanes were crossed and eventually we found ourselves at the top of The Fairy Steps. Stopping for a drink we watched as walkers disappeared, laughing  and grunting, into the cleft. If you don’t touch the sides you may see a Fairy and have a wish, I think you would have to be a fairy not to touch the sides. Yet another area from previous bouldering trips to reminisce over – we do a lot of reminiscing!  Down a rocky path to Hazelslack with its late 14thC Pele tower to ward off the Scots. A few more map readings and we were into Arnside and enjoying a pint at the pub overlooking the Lune and its viaduct. Coincidentally bumped into my old friend Conrad  [] family and friends, they had just returned from their regular Thursday walk.

So the LImestone Link has provided us with a lovely social day’s walk over interesting terrain and with wide-ranging views. It can be done in trainers! The road walking near Holme could have been avoided by a traverse of Farleton Fell and more canal walking. As a whole it doesn’t seem to be well  used, particularly in the East and there is an almost total lack of any signing or way-marking. No big problem but thank God we took a map.

Time to rest.

                                                          Time to rest.