G3VGR MALERWEG     Neumannmühle Schmilka      

Rain had been forecast for today, although it seemed sunny enough when I caught the 241 bus from Bad Schandau. After experiencing yesterday's tatty tourist attractions, I decided to give Neumannmühle a miss and carried on up the Kirnitzschtal to Raümichtmühle, arriving around 0915. All of today's stage would be spent deep in the National Park's forest. I picked up the trail at the bottom of the Mühlschlüchte, a steep ravine.

This was a rough walk uphill with many tree roots and rocks to contend with, but it was quite beautiful in the early morning's dappled sunlight. Along the sides was bright green foliage of ferns and moss and also some immense boulders, relics of the last Ice Age. The section was very reminiscent of the Appalachian Trail sections I'd walked in New Hampshire. I continued until reaching the summit of the Grosses Pohlhorn, where I made a short detour to a viewpoint. Not only was the view from here excellent, I had the unusual luxury of enjoying it in complete silence, no bird song, no people, no vehicles. From here, I started the Dreisteigensteig, making my way down many wooden steps from the summit and crossed a bridge over the Kirnitzsch river. The trail upwards from here was even rougher than previously. At the peak, it then went down gradually until reaching a road where the Altes Zeughaus stood. This was once an armoury where Royalty kept their hunting weapons, but today is a restaurant. I met the 4 German hikers again here and swapped experiences over a Hefeweizen.

The next section of the trail will remain long in my memory. The Rosssteig was a long, relentless walk up a steep path. It seemed to go on forever and was quite tiring. I was certainly glad I'd brought my Lekis with me on this trip as they definitely saved my knees from much suffering and now helped to propel me up the Rosssteig. After eventually reaching the top, to the left was the Goldsteinaussicht. From here were views over large parts of the Sächsiche Schweitz. Whilst enjoying the views, I heard the first claps of thunder. A little further along the trail near the Katzenstein, it started to rain at last. As I'd already had glorious sunshine for the previous four stages, I wasn't too dismayed by the change. The trail followed the Fremdenweg through quite a boggy area where there were wooden walkways in places. It was now raining quite heavily when I arrived at the summit of the Grosser Winterberg (560 metres). There were no clearings with any views and I went into the restaurant for lunch. The 4 Germans were already here and beckoned me to join them for lunch. I stayed for almost an hour, which is a long time for me when hiking. On leaving, the rain had lessened and I started the steep descent down the Bergsteig towards Schmilka. It soon stopped raining and the way down was a combination of wooden steps and flat stone slabs. All were covered in wet dead leaves, so I descended with caution. The sleepy little border village of Schmilka marked the end of the Malerweg on the right bank of the Elbe. There is very little at Schmilka, only a couple of restaurants and pensions, although I was impressed it managed to maintain its dignity, unlike Hrensko just across the border.

The time now was 13:45 and after a quick check of timetables, I realized I would be able to go for a ride on the Sächsisch-Böhmische Semmeringbahn from Bad Schandau to Sebnitz. Accordingly, I crossed the Elbe on the little ferry boat to catch the 2PM train from Schmilka to Bad Schandau, where the SB71 train was waiting. The Semmeringbahn is a highly recommended train journey as it passes through quite a few tunnels and across many bridges over the Lachbach on its way up the heavily wooded, narrow valley to Sebnitz. On arrival, I was faced with the choice of waiting 20 minutes for the return train ride or making my way into the centre of Sebnitz and catching the bus an hour later. Choosing the second option, I made my way down to the town, but it started raining heavily, so I didn't really get to see much. The bus took me through Hohnstein and the great metropolis that is Altendorf before arriving at the Elbkai in Bad Schandau for my last evening in the National Park.



View from Grosses Pohlhorn

Kirnitzsch River

difficult to get lost here

Dreisteigensteig - steig1

Dreisteigensteig - steig2

Dreisteigensteig - steig3

Altes Zeughaus

The four charming German hikers



Along the Fremdenweg

Boarded section of Fremdenweg

Descent from Grossen Winterberg

Bottom of the Bergsteig



Ferry across the Elbe from Schmilka

Sebnitz town centre

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