The Adventures of Milady in Rügen with Elizabeth von Arnim

fullsizeoutput_8e9.jpeg

On Wednesday I start this summer’s “Big Adventure”. In 2013 I spent a month working at a B&B in Switzerland and last year and the year before I took myself off to Ireland for 4 weeks and 3 weeks successively. This year I’ll be travelling in Germany, Denmark and Sweden visiting Lübeck, the Baltic islands of Rügen and Bornholm, walking the Osterlen Way before finally spending two nights in the Swedish university city of Lund. Originally I had hoped to travel quite independently by ferry and car but there are no longer passenger car ferry services between the north of England and northern Germany or Scandinavia. I think there is still a service to Amsterdam but that is as far north in Europe as you can get these days. So, to save precious time, I’m flying to Hamburg and back from Copenhagen.

fullsizeoutput_8fb.jpeg

One of my favourite authors is Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941) and in 1904 she published her book recounting the story of her journey in 1904.

Every one who has been to school and still remembers what he was taught there, knows that Rügen is the biggest island Germany possesses, and that it lies in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Pomerania. Round this island I wished to walk this summer, but no one would walk with me. It is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things. It is the one way of freedom. If you go to a place on anything but your own feet you are taken there too fast, and miss a thousand delicate joys that are waiting for you by the roadside.

fullsizeoutput_8f9.jpeg

A Postcard from Rügen

Thus her story begins. Walking was out of the question for Elizabeth since at that time she could not walk alone. In the end she travelled by coach and horses with her retinue, or at least one maid. For my part I prefer to have company for such a trip and one day that company presented itself in the form of Queen Breaca (QB) who comments here and offered to accompany me and indeed plan the trip to Rügen together. We shall be travelling by car and staying in one place but travelling out each day to different parts of the island for our walks.

fullsizeoutput_8f8.jpeg

From that plan a visit to Lübeck was suggested by another reading friend (Rhona) and not quite finally, a friend who used to be a neighbour but has since moved to Derbyshire, suggested a walking tour in southern Sweden since Rügen is but a hop, skip and a jump from the starting point Ystad in Sweden.

Osterlen.jpg

Hearing of this plan QB then suggested adding an additional trip to Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic of which, up to now, the only thing I knew and  remembered about it from my school geography lessons was that it is (or was) a major source of China clay!

Bornholm.jpg

The map at the top outlines Elizabeth’s trip and we hope to visit many of the same places. Different adventures will befall us and we’ll do different walks too. I’m very excited about this adventure!

 

The Final Leg – To Besalu

For those who book the 5-day option the walk ends at Santa Pau. However, we learnt over the years that ATG can be very flexible with their dates and as I was intrigued by what I had seen in pictures and read in books about Besalu I wanted to include the walk to, and overnight stay in, Besalu at the end of the walking part of our trip. ATG were able to oblige so we set off on the Tuesday morning :

Day 5

Santa Pau to Besalu: Footpaths pass craggy peaks and mountain rivers (opportunities for swimming in natural pools), before climbing to a high ridge with views. Then oak and pine forests lead to the medieval town of Besalú with its 11th century fortified bridge, Jewish bath-house and 12th century monastery church (12.7 or 13.5 miles, 6-7 hours).

Continue reading

Monday : Joanetes to Santa Pau : about 10 miles … and four churches

Due to a bit of a mix up Miquel had to collect us and drive us to suitable point a short way along the route. The beginning of Monday’s walk was to be along a quiet but tarmac road but he dropped us in the central square of a village on the outskirts of Les Preses. We were soon on a stony track climbing quite steeply through woodland.

Day 4

Joanetes to Santa Pau: Easy paths enter the Natural Park of Garrotxa passing Romanesque churches in picturesque woodland settings. Continue through beech forest between dormant volcanoes before reaching the medieval village of Santa Pau, an ancient barony with a castle founded in the 11th century (11.8 miles, 6 hours).

Continue reading

Rupit to Mas La Serra : 10.5 miles

Often on ATG walks you’re offered a choice of routes to reach the next point on your itinerary. Needless to say we chose the longer walks on this trip.

“Day 2  Rupit to Mas La Serra via La Salut: From Rupit, pass the Salt de Sallent, follow paths along the edge of the Collsacabra with splendid views, then walk through open grassy pastures and woodland to the superbly situated Santuari de Nostra Senyora de la Salut, before continuing on to accommodation in a spectacular setting (10.2 miles, 5 hrs).” [As usual we made some detours and covered more mileage than this … and took longer, of course]

Continue reading

Foel Fenlli on Foot

IMG_1575

This walk covered points 1 to 7. We ended by walking back along the road to point 1.

On Wednesday we drove into the nearby Clwydian Hills to attempt a walk called “Foel Fenlli and Moel Famau”. Moel Famau is the highest point of this range of hills. It took us a while, with a couple of false turns, to find the narrow road through the range between Llanbedr-Dyffryn-Clwyd and Loggerheads and the Moel Famau Country Park car park starting point. The route begins along the road which on this sunny weekday was very quiet but I can imagine is pretty busy during summer at weekends.

Continue reading

The Whale Watchers Walk – Palm Mar to Los Cristianos

On Wednesday we were back on the hills again – and several of them. It was  a tough climb out of Palm Mar and a very rough path over the cliffs of Mount Guaza to Los Cristianos. Los Cristianos is a huge resort and ferry terminal for sailing to the Canary Island of La Gomera. It seemed strange to be walking along part of the 10km promenade in our hiking gear. The promenade is lined with bars and fast food eateries but there amongst them is the office for booking Whale Watching Boat Trips. I’m not at all a sailor so I opted to take a taxi back to the house at Palm Mar. The others enjoyed seeing whales and dolphins but I preferred a lazy afternoon with my book.

Palm Mar

Continue reading

The Teide National Park : Sentero 13 : Walking Among Volcanoes

On Monday we were off to the Teide National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mount Teide is the highest peak in Spain at 3718 metres. There are many trails in the park but Barbara found this one for us which introduced us to the landscape and lead to a crater and was not too strenuous. It was also on the quieter, less frequented side of the mountain.

Continue reading