Kaiser-Route Aachen - Paderborn 7.-11.5.96
At our hometown Braunschweig they are fond of Heinrich der Löwe (Henry the Lion, 1129-95, duke of Saxony). At Aachen they refer to Karl der Grosse (Charles-le-magne). At the Kyffhäuser mountain there is a big monument of Kaiser Barbarossa who is said to live underground there and to come every 100 years up to the earth to look at his empire.
We cannot wait as long. We choose Karl der Grosse, the Kaiserroute from Aachen to Paderborn (Brochure: "Kaiser-Route", BVA) and a proper Interregio train from Braunschweig to Aachen, where you arrive after three hours. Thomas is with me, though he suffers of a bad toe. To handle things properly he upgrades his bicycle-baggage by a small plastic-tub for his feet...
Thursday, 7.5. Aachen - Blatzheim 85 km
We use the train named IR 2648 and get off at 7.36 am. I had booked in advance: ticket, seat reservation, bike ticket. Thomas is more spontaneous and winds up all of the procedure with the conductor. He even has not to pay more for it! (This was once upon a time, Note 2002). We arrive at Aachen at about 12 o' clock. We find ourselves at the Domplatz, the Dom is hidden by scaffolds. Before we can start the near Tchibo-shop is a must. Thereafter I success to pull Thomas from a nearby Mac Donalds. We find the route out of the town which is properly signed. We pass some barracks and the Wald-Friedhof and then enjoy the free nature. Now there is the occasion to proove the direction of the wind. This blows in contrary of any planning from north-east, just from ahead, let's call it a challenge.
Past 10 km we reach the first attraction, the scenic town Kornelimünster. At the outskirts we meet a man with a milk churn. This is a monk clothed in a cowl. Immediately Thomas and I have a discussion about god and the world. Kornelimünster looks nice and there are various restaurants in consequence of the touristic visitors. In the brochure to this tour there are lots of hints to historical events and sightseeings, that we decide to concentrate on the landscape and cycling. We then reach the town of Stolberg with a medieval fortification. For we miss a sign we have to cross some meadows and finally not hit on the castle but an industrial area instead. Hereabout they once had iron-ore production and so there are some metal processing factories. One is named "Prym" and well known to everyone by their production of press buttons and drawing pins. We are content with this impression for the castle is on a hill.
But from the village Vicht nevertheless we have to climb up along a creek in the forest. There are lots of marsh marigolds (Sumpfdotterblume). After we left the spring of the creek behind we have a plane route again. We come to a parking site in the wood and without delay cross over and head on. There is a big cow dropping on the path - remember this! We enjoy a long downhill for some kilometers. Eventually we reach a place where we can compare the location to the map: we have reached a branch of the Wehebachtalsperre and there is no other continuation than the way back. Now you can learn about the discrepancy of a short downhill and a long uphill. Finally we reach our favorite cow dropping, breethe deep and now know to be near the parking site.
The solution is: the cyclist has to use the road but there is no sign announcing this. So we finally come to Schevenhütte and have a rest at the Cafe Backstube. We have coffee and cake. After some time the landlady starts to tell all about her maladies and deseases, so we do not feel nice to share such intimate and private circumstances and say farewell. We continue along the forest to Kloster Wenau and through some farmland to the town of Düren. We do not see much interesting and leave the town on the Bundesstrasse. We go to the south for a while but then continue to go into the wind towards Noervenich. This town is known by its air base as a bastion to western offenses.
It is time to look for an accommodation. Some people suggest a hotel at Blatzheim, some km north. We are there half an hour later and speak to the host of the hotel, clothed in tie and jacket. He says he is booked out, but may be he had a glance on our touring suits and we are not sufficiently elegant. Around the next corner we find another etablissement: Gasthaus Kreuz, just at the church. Nearby there is the Greek restaurant Akropolis and so we have all we want.
Wednesday, 8.5. Blatzheim - Hilden 95 km
We cannot start very early because it is raining. So one can enjoy his footbath, pack the panniers, have breakfast and read the newspaper. The weather forecast corresponds with the scene at the front door. But about 10 am the rain ends and we use a shortcut to Kerpen. Kerpen is known by a man (meanwhile two, brothers) who is able to drive a car around a race course in an uncredible speed. We leave this town to the east and in spite of the rain we have a headwind. We come to the river Erft, which is forced to a concrete channel. This circumstance is caused by the surface mining of the brown coal, the level of the ground water is lowered by 300 m.
At the castle Mödrath there is an observation point to the surface mining of Frechen. If the sun would be shining the scene would be more colorful. The ground of the mining area looks like a earth-colored mosaic, in the background there is to be seen a shovel excavator (Schaufelbagger). We follow the river Erft under poplar trees. May be the friends of the hay fever have their fun here when the poplars are in blossom. We enjoy the new green around after a long winter. Past Bergheim we come to the village Pfaffendorf with a scenic moated castle. We have a look at it and this is worthwhile.
We then pass another surface mining area named Fortuna Garsdorf. But there is to be seen nothing for all the misery is hidden behind walls and trees. Some time later there is the nice hamlet Alt-Kaster. Let us quote from the brochure: "The main street is bordered by small brick houses twined by roses...". The center is only accessible through wall gates and a closed wall surrounds everything. We pass along every existing lane and this is done after a short time.
The next section is not as scenic, zigzagging between the powerstations Frimmelsdorf and Neurath. The grey atmosphere and the cold eastern winds make things uncomfortable. The landscape looks like a black and white movie. At the Kloster Knechtsteden one can relax. This time I have a look into the "doppelchorige Basilika". There are frescoes in the western apsis which shall come from the 12 th century. We absolve the last stretch of the left-Rhine region and in the late afternoon we reach the Rhine at the village Feste Zons. The ferryboat waits already so we do not get the time to visit the village. On the ferry we have a chat with another cyclist. He commutes from his work and will share the next kilometers with us.
So we cannot remember much of the scene for our companion prefers a nice speed and we have to talk moreover. I can only report about a waterski area with a drag lift and some shivering rubber figures. Some time later the rain comes down again and we say farewell to our cyclist for we must pull out our rain suits. In addition Thomas must have a look for his bad toe.
We come to the town of Hilden and that's enough for today. We ask for a hotel and after some time we get there. Now we hear that there is a fair Interpack (packaging machinery and material) at the nearby Düsseldorf. Therefore most of the hotels and pensions ar booked. But they are very friendly (Forstbacher Hof) and call around until they have found a free room at the Hotel Monopol near the railway station. After we have arrived there the rain pours down steadily. Fortunately we have not to leave the house for dinner because at the floor there is an excellent restaurant with Jugoslavian meals.
Thursday, 9.5. Hilden - Wetter 120 km
In between I must confess, that the distances noted in this report will not agree with those of the brochure. This is caused by shortcuts and detours, side trips or odysseys.
Today we have sunshine and a pretty cold. We try to leave Hilden in various directions and finally near the swimming park hit on the Kaiserroute again. This is the town-forest (Stadtwald) and you can learn by signs the difference between an oak- and a pine-tree. Then there is an Autobahnkreuz and we are forced to use a busy and uphill road to Dü.-Sandheide. And then down to the Neandertal. We look around, but the locals hereabout look as usual. Anyhow there is a museum and a bus in front of it, where the stuff about the ancient homo erectus is presented. We continue and pass an area named "Diepensiepen" and then reach the village Gruiten. At Hahnenfurth a sign is missing again and we ask a gentleman. He at once tells us, how many cyclists come along and some are said to manage 90 km the day. OK, this would be astonishable, we say and announce that the season just begins.
Then we come to Düssel and the creek with the same name. Anyhow the creek is able to give its name to the capital Düsseldorf of Nordrhein Westfalen. I canot remember the moated castle there, may be this had dried out.
Meanwhile we should have something to eat and to drink. We just are within the densest population area of Germany but for a long time cannot find a proper shop. At about noon in Neviges we finally find an Edeka-Shop. Moreover nearby in the center (Altstadt) there is market time and there you can buy everything. Thomas stops for a fried fish while I have a look at the pilgrim's church. This is a new one of 1968, built of concrete and doesn't look as nice for my taste.
A hilly section follows. Now as the sun shines we have a wide view into the Bergisches Land and we remember how the colors of a rape seed field look like. The next attraction is the town of Langenberg. Most of the houses are covered by schist stones. We spend some time here while Thomas tries to fix the gear adjustment of the mountainbike of a small boy.
We take the next shortcut on the L439 and avoid some hills of the Kaiserroute. Therefore we have some more traffic but soon reach Kupferdreh at the western end of the Baldeneysee. The official route will now surround this lake, so we can spend 10 km by the shortcut. First we stop at a kiosk. A lady sits there in the sun and we have a friendly chat. We want to invite her for a coffee but she says she is waiting for two strong men. "We never have luck" we joke and some time later the two "strong men" come up and we stop joking. The one is her 10 year old son on a MTB, the other her husband with amputated legs. He rides a trike with manual power supply. We think about the luck to have healthy arms and legs.
Now we pass a very nice section along the river Ruhr. The valley winds along in wide bends. The settlements are at the slopes, the bottom of the valley is drinking water sampling area (Trinkwasser Einzugsgebiet). At the sluice near Horst we have a rest. I enumerate the animals we saw within that short time: a yellow butterfly and this was the rare swallow tail, a swan on his nest, a flying heron, some loons (Haubentaucher). Above the water surface of the river there are swarms of swallows, black coloured and so a special species. And remember, we are near the crowded and dense settled Ruhrgebiet.
We reach the weir of Hattingen. This seems to be very dangerous for canoists: "8 victims since 1990" is to be read. But we find ourselves in the middle of a flock of sheep. We talk to the shepherd and hear, that there are 350 mothersheep, the lambs not considered. The sheep have been sheared recently and now look somewhat naked. As the mothersheep have collected their last lambs we can continue.
A look at the map shows: we are just 10 km afar from a point where we have been hours before, so once again let us state: the route is the journey (or: the journey is the goal, der Weg ist das Ziel).
We climb up to the Burg Blankenstein. This is located high above on a hill overlooking the valley beneath. As we ask a boy for the way down he sends us to a steep path. We have to push the bikes sometimes for the brakes are not sufficient. We end at an old railway hut and a stop of the Ruhrtalbahn. And that's it, there is swampland only and a small path unpassable after some time. A man comes along and we ask for a continuation. "Just up there" he says and points to the road where we have come from. "This is good for some training units" he states and we agree and absolve those training units (25 % gradient) until we are back at the Burg and the main road.
We continue at the shore of the Kemnader See. Opposite of the ruin Burg Hardenstein there is a sluice and a passenger ship without guests just passing by. We have a chat to the captain and ask for an accommodation nearby. But he then must concentrate on his work and cannot answer. We argue about the response because sailors are known to prefer lodgings of a certain type. So at the town Bommern we ask another gentleman for a hotel. He is very friendly and suggests Hotel zum Stöter, 2 km up the hill. So we ride 2 km up the hill. There is no hotel but a market-garden. We ask for another time and learn, that hotel Stöter is 2 km from here up the hill. So we ride the next 2 km up the hill. And there is the village Trienendorf. We have to ask for a last time and they say: "Yes, the hotel is 2 km up the hill". And after these two last and long kms up the hill we finally arrive, find the doors closed and can read: "Donnerstag Ruhetag" (Thursday Rest Day).
We have 8 pm and we are a little bit worn out. We have to ride back, downhill now and come to the town of Wengern. There are two hotels. One of those is under construction. The other is named "Hotel Elbschetal". But after a glance to the parking site we come to the result that we better do not drive up with our bikes there. By telephone we try two more attempts: the youth hostel is booked however and the hut of the nature's friends as well. So we continue to the town of Wetter, and immediately find the Westfälischer Hof and there are "Zimmer frei". So we could have avoided all the trouble before.
I soon enter the restaurant to forget all miseries by a couple of Matjes herrings. Thomas has to supply his toes and feet first, and soon after he arrives a horde of a male singer's society, about 30, come into the bar and we flee off.
Friday, 10.5. Wetter - Belecke 95 km
At breakfast we get friends with Nelly, a sheep-dog-lady. Some time later a big excitement: Nelly comes pitiably yowling back from the street. Thereafter two car drivers come up who have hit her and apologize. Nelly seems to feel better soon, let us hope she has learned of it. So we start into the dangerous world. The bike path is traffic free along the Hartkorsee. Past Herdecke there is the next lake Hengsteysee. There is a pump-power-station and a group of visitors with helmets is just preparing for a sightseeing. We continue along a railway track and admire the old iron bridges over the river. The modern concrete bridges of the Autobahn even swing over the whole valley.
We pass through the botany and eventually reach the small town Fröndenberg. The center is blocked by a funfair but now at noon everything is deserted. Thomas discovers a travel van on a truck tractor and thereafter a Greek restaurant (Dionysos Grotte). I am not hungry and prefer to climb up to the churches but there is not much to be seen.
Some time later we are on the path again and observe some weird cattle. There is a sign at a breeding farm and we read something about the Galloway cattle breed. Then there is a new built village on a hill. Two happy retired gentlemen come along and tell us that this is Wickede, named "Monte Credito". We then see the estate Haus Füchten, may be some restauration activities would be necessary. We now leave the valley of the Ruhr. There is the river Möhne as a confluence of the Ruhr, nevertheless we are forced to pass some hills and then ride high above the valley of the Möhne.
We now have time to observe the monuments of modern times and those are the high masts of the windwheels at exponated spots which produce energy from pure air. Sometimes we count 15 wheels or so of different constructions amidst of woods and hills. At our hometown Braunschweig they have difficulties to install such equipment on farmland aside a television tower worrying about a damage of the landscape. (Meanwhile - 1998 - they have built the wheel and it is a secure instrument to show the direction of the wind while I commute by bike to my work).
We then benefit of another change of usage, a former train track has turned to be a bike path. This is without hills and absolutely traffic free. They only have installed tricky barriers at the crossings to slow down any too enthusiastic cycling. So this is a very convenient riding in the valley of the Moehne until we reach Belecke, from there they have trains again, for transports only.
We think to end for today too and soon find a hotel at the market place and thereafter have time to look around at the remarkable - as they say - town center. We are highly disappointed. They have paved everything by an artificial stone covering and replaced all romantic by a sterile atmosphere. We leave this all behind us and disappear into the Pizzeria zur Mühle. This seems to be a common meeting place for more and more people come in by the time. We like this restaurant very much, not only because there is a nice service maid.
Saturday, 11.5. Belecke - Paderborn 60 km
At the breakfast we hear, that the host of this hotel has died some time ago. The wife and the daughter now manage the business but they don't know how to continue.
We start for the last section. We continue in the valley of the Möhne but then cross a last hill to the valley of the Alme. In the town of Büren we have some difficulties not to miss the path but then the trail along the Alme is very nice organized. The highlight is the Wewelsburg up above the valley. I miss the optimal spot for a photo and later there is no other occasion behind willows and poplars. The title of the Kaiserroute-booklet shows the Wewelsburg on a sunny day.
We slow down now and roll the rest of the stretch to
traffic is unusual for us and we head for the railway station. How to
from Paderborn to Braunschweig on a Saturday? It turns out to be no
we only have to change once. Finally there is enough time to eat
and to buy a mother's day gift for tomorrow.