G3VGR RHEINSTEIG     Sankt Goarshausen - Kaub      

The Loreley epitomizes the romantic Rhein and although I had visited it many times by car, I had been looking forward to hiking this stage since first starting the trail in Bonn. It is reputed to be the longest and most exhausting section of the trail, but having just returned from 10 days hill walking in the Montafon Alps, this was not an issue. This stage is also credited with the most outstanding scenic views. As it was late summer, I decided to bring along a tent and spend the weekend under canvas.

Early Friday afternoon, I made my way down the A61, which is actually a random large collection of roadworks, interlinked by short stretches of autobahn that have severe speed restrictions. Eventually, I arrived at Loreley-Camping and set up my pitch just a few feet from the cliff edge, with a fine view of the Rhein below. Despite the traffic holdups, I still had time to visit the Loreley Visitor's Centre before it closed for the day. The centre has many interesting exhibits and information about the formation of the Rheintal. In the shop, I bought some Rheinsteig souvenir pins & also a T-shirt, which I'll save to wear for my final stage of the trail into Wiesbaden.

I started the trail around 7AM on the Saturday morning, following along the cliffs which had some fine views of the Loreley, particularly from the Spitznack viewpoint. The weather was warm and dry with some blue sky visible. The trail cut inland through some farm fields, then entered a long descent through a forest to reach the bottom of the Bornichbach valley, followed by a corresponding steep ascent back through the forest to the cliff top. Traversing this small valley was a harbinger of the next delight, which was an even steeper descent into the beautiful Urbachtal valley. Some early signs of Autumn were apparent here with some leaves turning colour and a few even falling off. The ascent from the valley floor was somewhat brutal. The trail continued through the forest along the cliff top, with the occasional view of the town of Oberwesel across the Rhein. I had now been walking for almost 3 hours and had yet to see a soul. It was very quiet apart from the sounds of bird song and the steady thumping of barge engines as they made their way up the river against the strong current. After reaching the end of the forest and clambering up a very steep rock section to the Ross-stein, I stopped at a bench overlooking Oberwesel to take a snack and met my first person of the day, a fellow Rheinsteiger who was travelling in the opposite direction.

The trail then continued inland through more farm fields to reach the outskirts of the village of Dörscheid, where I started to see groups of hikers who were making their way up from Kaub. From Dörscheid started the slow descent towards Kaub. The highlight of this section was finding a roadside wine cabinet, supplied by a local vintner, which contained 250cL bottles of Riesling and small glasses. The vintner provided this as a service to hikers and requested a very reasonable sum of 2.50 Euros. I duly paid his fee and enjoyed the wine with the remainder of my Sockeye Salmon Jerky. After entering a positive comment in his guestbook, I made my way down a steep path towards the town, with views of the famous little Pfalzgrafenstein castle on its island in the middle of the river, arriving in Kaub around midday.

Pfalzgrafenstein castle was used as a toll station until 1866. Kaub's main claim to fame is that it is where the Prussian Field Marshal von Blücher crossed the Rhein with his army to do battle with Napoleon. I don't know if he had to pay a toll for his 60,000 troops and 20,000 horses to make the crossing,  My original plan was to get the 15:15 boat back to Sankt Goarshausen, but there was little that Kaub had to offer to justify spending 3 hours in this bustling metropolis, especially as the Blücher museum seemed to be closed. I also needed some brötchen for dinner and the local bäckerei was closed, so I caught the next available train back to Sankt Goarshausen.

After completing my shopping and enjoying a lunch of Zwiebelküche with Federweisser, I rejoined the trail at the point I had finished back on Easter Monday and made my way back up past Burg Katz to the Loreley, which completed this famous stage of the Rheinsteig.  Back at the tent, I made some corned beef hash & enjoyed it with a bottle of Rheingau while watching the barges and pleasure ships plying their way up and down the Rhein on a glorious sunny evening.

Rhein view from my tent doorway

The Loreley Besucher Zentrum

Sankt Goarshausen and Katz Castle from the Loreley

Loreley from Spitznack

Bridge over the Bornichbach

View of Oberwesel

Another pleasant forest trail

Trail descending steeply to Kaub

Wine cabinet along the trail

Field Marshal von Blücher at Kaub

Burg Gutenfels overlooking Kaub

Burg Pfalzgrafenstein guarding the river

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