G3VGR MALERWEG     Stadt Wehlen – Hohnstein      

I was able to have an early breakfast and caught the 0722 train to Stadt Wehlen. In common with some of the other towns along the Elbe, the railway station is on the left bank and the town is on the right bank. Each of these stations have a little ferry to connect the 2 points and the fare is included in the general transport ticket.

It was another warm sunny morning as I rejoined the trail, which started along the Elbe promenade. After a few hundred metres, the trail went steeply uphill through woods until I was high above the Elbe. At the top, I continued along past a stone table and chairs in a clearing until I joined a narrow tarmac road with a car park on the left side. Another 50 metres further on, I reached the Bastei. The word "awesome" is somewhat overused nowadays to wrongly endow exaggerated properties to the mundane. The views around here however, could definitely be described as awesome. The Elbe views looked magnificent and also the strange sandstone rock formations, many of which have names relating to their shapes, dominated by the nearby large, impressive Lilienstein. After some time enjoying the views, I eventually came to terms with what I was actually seeing. This was very reminiscent of the first time I saw the Grand Canyon - there is just too much to quickly assimilate. Suitably satisfied at last, I walked down from here onto the Bastei Bridge, which was deliberately built as a tourist attraction in the 19th century. As it was early in the day, there were only two other people around, so it was possible to slowly enjoy the views. At the end of the bridge, I went down the many wooden steps leading towards the village of Kurort Rathen.

After reaching the valley and passing the artificial lake of Amselsee, I arrived at a crossroads of trails and decided to divert from the Malerweg. The map showed it went on to the village of Rathenwalde and through fields before reaching Hockstein. By now I was totally enamoured of the Sächsiche Schweitz forest with all its bright green new foliage, ferns and moss, so chose a trail uphill through the forest instead. This eventually rejoined the Malerweg and I continued on to the Hocksteinaussicht viewing point. From here, there were fine views down and along the Polenztal valley and across to the town of Hohnstein with its prominent fortress. To get to Hohnstein meant descending steeply to the Polentztal then ascending steeply up the other side. The descent was through the Wolfschlutz, a collection of steel ladders and steps through the narrow gaps between the sandstone rocks. The weather was quite hot now so the ascent from the valley floor was hard work. I arrived in the pretty village of Hohnstein at noon and had a tasty Eintopf from the little shop in the Market square.

As I'd also completed this second stage early, I decided to use the afternoon to visit the natural stone arch, "Pravčická Brána" (Prebischtor) in the nearby Czech Republic. The bus ride from Hohnstein through Rathenwalde to Pirna showed my earlier detour through the forest to have been a good decision as Rathenwalde looked to be a dreary little place. I travelled to the border town of Schmilka by train and ferry, then caught one of Frank Nunn's antique buses to the Prebischtor bus stop 2Km outside Hrensko.

From here it was a steady uphill walk through the forest of the Czech part of the National Park to the Prebischtor. It was late afternoon when I arrived, so the attraction was not very busy. After paying my €3, I visited the different viewpoints for superb views of both the arch and the surrounding landscape. From the highest point, I could see far into the Czech National Park. I walked back to Hrensko and was quite disappointed with the town. It was probably quaint once, but now consisted of endless bazaar stalls along all the streets peddling worthless rubbish churned out by the sweatshops in SE Asia. Germans refer to the main street as the "Ho-Chi-Minh-Weg" Originally, I did plan to have dinner here, but was now suspicious about the possibly quality of the fare in this frontier slum, so caught the ferry across the river to Schöna and the train back to Pirna instead.

Stadt Wehlen

Steineres Tisch

View from the Bastei

The Bastei Bridge

On the Bastei Bridge

The Bastei

Descent from the Bastei

The Wolfschlutz

Hohnstein from Hocksteinaussicht

Along the Polenztal

Hohnstein Market Square

Antique bus at Schmilka

Trail to Pravčická Brána (Prebischtor)

The Prebischtor

Above the Prebischtor

Asian market stalls in Hrensko

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