G3VGR NECKARSTEIG     Eberbach - Hirschhorn      

It was raining steadily when I arrived back at Eberbach to walk the next stage of the Neckarsteig to Hirschhorn. Despite the poor weather, Eberbach still looked a pretty town. I followed the trail past the old town wall and through well-kept gardens along the promenade until I reached the outskirts of town and went up many steps next to the gymnasium. This started a steep ascent of the Ittenberg. After gaining height, the trail levelled out and followed the Neckar downstream. Unfortunately, it was also above and parallel to the B37 Landstrasse, so I could hear continual traffic noise, augmented by the hissing of tyres on the wet road surface. This lasted for almost 2Km, when the trail descended to the road level. After crossing a busy main road and walking through what looked like a junkyard, I was relieved to take a steep uphill track away from modern civilization as the trail went immediately away from the river. After 10 minutes, I was back in the solitude of the forests, where the only sounds were the rain on the trees and the songs of a few hardy birds.

I was now in the state of Hessen and had reached the northernmost point of the Neckarsteig. Life remained peaceful as I started back down to the Gretengrund, until I heard the excited voices of children. They were with a school class outing and were having great fun jumping around in the meadow and brooks, next to a large hut. I spoke with their teachers and learned that the hut is the "Hütte des Waldklassenzimmer Eberbach", which only goes to prove you don't always need warm weather and brilliant sunshine to have an enjoyable day. This thought stayed with me as I started the long gradual ascent along the forest trails. The rain was relentless and I was getting colder and more miserable by the minute. My hands that were gripping the trekking poles were gradually getting numb from cold. Occasionally in the ascent, I passed small clearings, but saw no vistas as it had now become very misty as well. There were no other souls around as I plodded ever onwards, ever upwards. I was indifferent when I passed the "Steineres Tisch", a stone table and seats put there in 1797 and didn't even bother to take a photograph. During this part of the walk, I was experiencing a strange phenomenen, whereby every time I stopped walking and looked at the trail ahead, it appeared to be moving, like a conveyor belt. This was a little disconcerting. At last, the trail levelled out after around 5Km of incline and I reached the Hoppehütte, where I decided to stop for a lunch break. The interior of the hut was very dark due to the weather and the view down the valley non-existant due to the mist, so lunch wasn't really the day's highllight. Outside the hut was a used barbecue and empty wine bottles in the litter bin. I was envious of what were doubtless happier times at the hut compared to today's situation.

A sign outside the hut conveyed the good news that Hirschhorn was only another 2.5Km. The two shots of Obstler that I'd drunk from my hipflask at the hut to warm the inner man had fixed the moving conveyor belt illusion, so I had a spring in my step as I walked along the level path, pondering the wonders of natural medicine. Within a few minutes, I reached a turnoff on the left which led me to a steep narrow downwards path through the forest. It had stopped raining now and the path was quite pretty with much moss, ferns and new growth on small conifers. After another kilometre, I reached the impressive Schloss Hirschhorn. I was their only visitor today and everything at the castle was closed. I spent some time wandering over the grounds, then went down ancient steps and cobbles until I reached the centre of Hirschhorn. Calling itself the "Pearl of the Neckar valley", this small village is a great attraction for visitors with its town wall and medieval main street with Fachwerkhäuser, all overlooked by Schloss Hirschhorn. The Altstadt was also deserted, however I found a cafe opposite the Rathaus that was open and warmed myself up with a Gulaschsuppe. Today's stage of the trail is quite short, so I had originally intended to press on to Neckarhausen. However, as the weather was so poor, I decided to leave that section until tomorrow as dry weather had been forecast. I caught the 1332 train back to Mosbach, where I was pleased to notice the Frühlingsfest was slowly winding down and now attracting a better class of visitor than the scruffy, obese, belligerent and raucous types that had frequented it over the feiertag and weekend.

A walk through the park in Eberbach

Steps leading to the Ittelberg

Along the trail near the Ittelberg

Not the most scenic part of the Neckarsteig

Hütte des Waldklassenzimmer Eberbach

I'm sure this trail is moving

Dismal view from Hoppehütte

Starting descent to Hirschhorn

Path down to Hirschhorn

Schloss Hirschhorn

Schloss Hirschhorn

Schloss Hirschhorn Gatehouse

View across to Ersheim

Hirschhorn Altstadt

Hirschhorn Altstadt

Hirschhorn town wall

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