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Fussen, Germany Holiday - June 2019

Ten members set off from Manchester to Munich on Sunday 9 June; another two travelled separately, one from London Heathrow, the other by train. We missed the direct connection to our final destination, Füssen, so had to change trains twice – this meant that some of the party arrived later than most… All checked in quickly to our various accommodations for our dinner at the restaurant Herzl that would become our usual meeting place.

On Monday after breakfast the next day the whole group crossed the bridge over the River Lech and ascended the Kalvarienberg – a small hill following the stations of the cross and the highest point in Füssen – which gave us a panoramic view of the town and Neuschwanstein castle in the distance. It was very hot (as it was for the whole week apart from our free day). We then walked to Alatsee, a beautiful lake with bathing opportunities! Some bought ice creams and we had lunch. We saw a toad, slow worms and a black squirrel – Julian heard blackcaps but saw none. On our return, after visiting the church of St Mang, some of us had delicious prosecco sorbets at a café in the square. Our final member joined the group and more beer and Bavarian delicacies were consumed at dinner. Three of us sharing a room in the hostel returned to find a dreadlocked Swiss man in one of the top bunks. We had not realised that the hostel was mixed!

On Tuesday both parties caught the bus to Hohenschwangau. The A party led by Catriona climbed up 1707 metres to Tegelberg Station for a drink and cake, after which we descended back to Hohenschwangau by a steep forest track. We then followed the Rive Lech back to Füssen, along a lovely flat path walking 11 miles in total.

The B party walked through the woods above Neuschwanstein castle, joining the crowd on Marienbrücke (bridge across gorge) and continuing up for a stunning view of the castle below. We walked down to another beautiful lake, Alpsee, for our lunch, watching swans and their cygnets. Then we visited the outside of the smaller castle, Hohenschwangau, which has beautiful gardens overlooking the mountains, and filled our bottles from a fancy fountain. We walked down through the woods back to Füssen, en route visiting the Lechfall, a thundering weir on the river.

In the evening we had dinner at our usual meeting place.

On Wednesday we all travelled by bus through picture-postcard villages to the Tegelberg and rode the cable car to the top of the mountain (1707m), watching numerous hang gliders taking off. Both parties then split but the A party didn’t run away fast enough to hide when the B party caught up with them! The A party then walked down via Bergwachhutte, which was made difficult in parts because of the snow. They then did a partial traipse around Alpsee Lake returning to Füssen 11 miles later.

Debbie and Ian of the B party bravely clambered up to the Branderschrofen (1880m). We then took the path down towards the Ähornspitze, some carrying on into the valley and back to Füssen, and some returning to the small restaurant below the Tegelberg for some very nice wheat beer. After going back down in the cable car we explored the remains of some Roman baths. Before dinner some of us gatecrashed the opening of a modern art exhibition in the museum and were plied with drinks!

On Thursday, our free day, it was dull and showery but still warm. Various options were taken, including boat trips on Forgensee (a nearby sizeable lake) or cycling around it, visiting the museum or castle in Füssen, or exploring the old town. The museum has a big collection of lutes, guitars, violins and similar instruments as the town was once famous for violin making. I had a very interesting afternoon with Eva and Rosie and Rosie’s German cousin from Bad Tolz.

At dinner there was considerable consumption of schnapps of various flavours.

On Friday the A party accomplished 18 miles! This was a hard slog due to it being a bit of a 'roaster'. The A party started at 9.30 am at Füssen Bus Station. They walked along Hopfensee, where they were overtaken by the B party on the train, and then through Bannwald and Senkelwald. Then despite the heat, 27 degrees, we traversed up to Eisenberg to view ruins before heading down to Speiden brewery where much needed refreshment was imbibed!

The B party caught the train to Weizer-Hopferau and walked to the village of Speidel, where we inspected the church and small chapel and noted the brewery to visit later. We climbed up to the ruins of two castles, Eisenberg and Hohen-Freyberg. It was probably the hottest day so far. We saw lots of wild flowers including orchids, lady’s mantle and yellow rattle, and the views from the ruins were breathtaking. After lunch we descended to Zell, skirted a small lake and ended up back at the brewery – a very traditional alehouse with waitresses in Bavarian costume. The A party joined us about an hour later and we had our dinner there – at least the meat-eaters did!

On Saturday Debbie, Eva, Helen and Ian joined the 4 A walkers Catriona, John, Julian and Michelle. Taxis were caught to Breitenburg where two lots of cable cars were taken to the top of Hochalp for a short walk, a good view, and the first and only use of the coats and gloves which were carried around all week. They then descended down from Hochalpe and crossed the River Vils before climbing back up, using legs this time, to the view point at the top Falkenstein at 1267 metres for more spectacular views. They walked back to Füssen along a ridge crossing over the Austrian German border several times, and taking in another small hill, Zirmgrat. This was about 12 miles in total.

The B party took a taxi to the ruins of Falkenstein, the highest castle in Germany at 1268m, next to a fabulous hotel on the edge of a cliff. After visiting the tiny museum, we took the steep path down to the Mariengrotte (Mary’s grotto) with statues and beautifully tended gardens. Walking along steep tracks through the forest, quite often crossing the border from Germany into the Austrian Tirol, marked by small white posts, we descended to the lovely restaurant at Saloberalpe, where we had delicious coffee and cakes. We attempted another Mariengrotte marked on the map but decided it would take too long to come back up! We walked back to the lake, Alatsee, where we paddled and watched someone water-skiing.

For our last dinner Yoshie and Catriona had booked a table at the Schloss Brauerei in Schwangau – this was the best meal of the week (sorbet of sea buckthorn berries?) and was followed by more schnapps before taxis arrived to return us to our digs.

On Sunday we returned home – some of us spending a few hours in Munich – after a thoroughly enjoyable holiday.

Many thanks to Catriona and Yoshie for their excellent organisation and for leading the walks.

Juanita and John

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