G3VGR Hiking the Rheinsteig      

My job involved frequent stays in Holland, near s'Hertogenbosch, occasionally including a weekend away from home. For me, the Gelderland area has little to offer for hiking, being more suited to cycling, so I've spent a few weekends in the Eifel region of Germany, which is fine hiking country. I am particularly fond of the Ahr Valley around Altenahr and have walked the Rotweinwanderweg (Red Wine Trail) twice. In 2008, I thought it was time to venture elsewhere, so examined some possibilities. I am very much a Germanophile, developed from when I lived there in the early Seventies. My familiarity with the country makes it seem natural to hike there, despite the fine opportunities available in areas such as the Ardennes. Hiking is very popular in Germany and so there is a large network of well organized and well-marked trails. Many trails follow ancient trade and pilgrimage paths and new long-distance trails (Fernwanderwege) are being regularly created. The many trails are backed up by excellent availability of maps and guides. Plenty of information is available on the web to assist in both deciding and planning which trail to walk. The Wanderbares Deutschland and WanderKompass websites in particular contain detailed information of the many German trails.

Opened in September 2005, the Rheinsteig is a 320Km hiking trail along the right bank of the Rhein from Bonn to Wiesbaden and is well planned to allow it to be walked in sections, most of which start and end near public transport terminii.  As well as buses and trains, it is also possible to travel in style between stages by using the passenger boats that travel along the Rhein.  The trail is quite well sign posted with distinctive blue and white signs as shown in the top corner of this page. Access routes to the trail are sign posted with yellow and white Rheinsteig signs.  Bonn is only around 150 miles from den Bosch, so this seemed the ideal trail to hike. Of course, venturing further along the trail meant the weekend drives would get progressively longer.

There is a phenomenal wealth of information available for this trail. The Rheinsteig website contains very detailed information, maps, profiles and GPS tracks for the complete route, broken into 23 stages. After spending much time reading information on the website, I decided this would be a worthwhile project and also allow me to enjoy the Rhenish food and wines along the route.  The website's online shop sells various guides and maps. I was able to browse all the available literature during a visit to Globetrotter, an excellent outdoors shop in Köln. After comparing the extensive range of products on offer, I purchased the "Hikeline" Wanderführer and the two Publicpress 1:25000 maps, all of which can be ordered from Amazon or the Rheinsteig website's online shop. The 3 publications are laminated, so ideal for carrying in a rucksack.

The logistical exercise in planning the weekend activities involves deciding where best to stay, then consulting train and bus timetables (which are readily downloadable from the Internet), to get to the start or end of each stage. I was able to book all accommodation in advance via the Internet, which avoided the inconvenience of looking for somewhere to stay the night after a long day's hiking.

I started out on the trail from the Rathaus in Bonn on 17th May 2008 and completed all stages on 4th May 2010, when I arrived at Schloss Biebrich, Wiesbaden.   After the Rheinsteig was completed, it was time to plan the next trail in Germany and I decided on the Malerweg

The Stages
· 17/05/08         Bonn - Königswinter
  18/05/08         Königswinter - Unkel


· 16/08/08         Unkel - Bad Hönningen
  17/08/08         Bad Hönningen - Rheinbrohl


· 15/11/08         Rheinbrohl - Leutesdorf
  16/11/08         Leutesdorf - Rengsdorf


· 22/11/08         Rengsdorf - Sayn

· 10/04/09         Sayn - Bendorf
· 11/04/09         Bendorf - Koblenz
· 12/04/09         Koblenz - Braubach
· 13/04/09         Braubach - Kamp Bornhofen
· 14/04/09         Kamp Bornhofen - St. Goarshausen

· 12/09/09         St. Goarshausen - Kaub
· 13/09/09         Kaub - Lorch

· 01/05/10         Lorch - Rüdesheim
· 02/05/10         Rüdesheim - Kühn's Mühle
· 03/05/10         Kühn's Mühle - Schlangenbad
· 04/05/10         Schlangenbad - Wiesbaden
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