KING LUDWIG WAY – to the castles.

                                                             Trauchgau. –  Fussen

Remember King Ludwig.                                                                                                                        Today I am walking to his famous castles – the family one he partially lived in, Hohenschwangau and the one he fantasized about and brought into existence, Neuschwanstein.

Neuschwanstein in the distance.

Neuschwanstein in the distance.

But first I have to find a way out of the Halblech area as I seem to be off route. Incongruously walking through a paper mill I pick up some local footpath signs heading to a St. Peters church which I see on the map, this involves a bit of hill climbing first thing but rewards me with great views towards the Fussen area. I even think I can pick out Neuschwanstein on its hill. The extra little climb up to the isolated little church was worth it for views to the Allgau Alps and over the countryside and villages that make up Halblech. On through Berghof to eventually find a KLW sign pointing down a lane through the delightful little farming hamlet of Greith…

Peaceful Greith - Maybe shouldn't have taken this photo!

Peaceful Greith – Maybe shouldn’t have taken this photo!

… and then on to the expansive Forggensee. Cyclists, in all shapes and sizes, on all manner of bikes, started appearing from all directions. I was getting nearer the tourist traps. A stop by the lake ended up with me feeding the ducks most of my lunch.

Shortly I was at the bottom of the ski lift to near the top of Tegelberg, 1720m. Para-gliders were performing tricks in the sky. [This was the scene in 2011 when one collided with the lift cable and left a gondola hanging in mid air necessitating a dramatic helicopter rescue.]  I was tempted to go up but the low cloud base put me off and I had places to go. One of the places was the climb up through the Pollat Gorge but when I arrived I was disappointed to find it was closed off due to rockfall, even I didn’t go against the signs and security fencing.  So I used the road to Hohenschwangau and arrived at the massive car park and thousands of day-trippers milling around. There were queues everywhere and tickets for the castles had long sold out for today.

It gets worse .....

It gets worse …..

Even so I trudged up to the fairytale turreted Neuschwanstein Castle where you are able to wander around outside without a ticket. This ‘shrine to Wagner‘ was King Ludwig’s passion for most of his adult life and in fact wasn’t completed until after his death.  Some of the views were spectacular… … and the crowd watching even more so. Far Eastern faces were in the majority, our gentle sarcasm of Japanese tourists is being replaced by an adverse reaction to the new breed of brash Chinese tourists. Marie bridge above the Pollat Gorge was mayhem so I found my own way down through the forest and to the Neo-Gothic style Hohenschwangau  Castle. There was slightly less hysteria here and you were able to imagine Ludwig’s rich and privileged family living there in the 19th century.   I had no ticket for an inside view, will have to find a virtual tour on the internet, but enjoyed the grounds with views back up to Neuschwanstein.

In typical German efficiency this famous royal castle had its own street number …To again avoid the hoards I took to the forest trails, within 50m I never saw another person for the next two hours. By now the clouds had come down and there were some spots of rain – the first on this trip. Despite this I thoroughly enjoyed the roller-coaster walk. Through the magnificent beech woods, over ridges, down to lakes and a fitting end to the day at a three cross viewpoint, a Calvary, high above Fussen. The two castles could be seen through the gloom in their romantic settings.Then it was down the track passing all the stations of the cross in reverse order, presumably you receive no redemption for this.

Sorry for such a long post, it could have been more as I walked 28k as well as all the sightseeing.

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