Rhine Castles Trail (Rheinburgenweg)

A personal record of my walk of the Rhine Castles Trail (Rheinburgenweg) with a written journal and with photographs. Tracklogs for GPS units and for use with Google Earth are available for download for each stage.

Journal, Photographs and Download Files

Stage Twelve - Bacharach to Oberheimbach
Google Maps Open Source Maps

Statistics and Files
Start: Bacharach Finish: Oberheimbach Distance: 7.7 miles (12.4 km)
Time: 3-4 hours Climbing: 270 metres Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File About the Rheinburgenweg
Start: Bacharach Finish: Oberheimbach
Distance: 7.7 miles (12.4 km) Time: 3-4 hours
Climbing: 270 metres Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Note: Routes shown on the maps and on the download files are recommended and which we stuck to as best as we could. However, there are diversions we made which were necessary on our journey because of accommodation and because of some planned and unplanned digressions. Please contact me if you need any clarifications.

The Walk:

Lovely morning in BacharachLovely morning in Bacharach
The climb to Burg StahleckThe climb to Burg Stahleck

Yet another sunny morning welcomed us as we left our Bacharach hotel. On Blücherstraße the sign showed it was just 400 metres to Burg Stahleck. All of it on the up. A week ago I would have had to encourage Lil on the climb, walking a little way ahead of her, stopping for her to catch up, and then going again. Not so now. This time I was impressed as she led the way. In truth I was so pleased at how Lil had coped with the challenge of her first long distance walk. Yes, she had her grumpy moments, usually towards the end of a stage. But then so did I. In all seriousness I could not be happier on not just how well she was doing but also on how she was so much enjoying herself. Soon enough, with the necessary effort and without a sigh from either of us we were beside the defensive walls of Burg Stahleck.

Burg StahleckBurg Stahleck
Burg StahleckBurg Stahleck

As with Burg Schönburg in Oberwesel yesterday, Burg Stahleck has a modern use. But impressively whereas Burg Schönburg functions as a hotel and restaurant, Burg Stahleck is now the home of a Youth Hostel. We were impressed with that. The castle grounds were busy with people, young and young at heart coming and going as we took a look around the inner courtyard. We also made sure to look out over the Rhine from this elevated viewpoint.

Quiet road near NeurathQuiet road near Neurath
Decaying barn at BerghofDecaying barn at Berghof

Once again we took a slight diversion from the Rheinburgenweg route, leaving Burg Stanleck by way of a country road leading towards the village of Neurath and keeping on from there by the regained Rheinburgenweg route via a country lane leading to the small village of Berghof. From here the next village we arrived at was Medenscheid where we noticed around half a dozen men erecting a marquee next to the Feuerwehr (Fire Station) building. Being Sunday, there must have been a fete or something similar in the village that very afternoon. They certainly had a good day for it.

The path running above the WinzbachThe path running above the Winzbach

Apart from the activity at the Fire Station the village was very quiet on our walk through the main street. It was a particularly pretty place. Generally, all the houses were pristinely whitewashed and gardens resplendent with shrubs and flowers. There was not a spot of litter to be seen anywhere. How we could learn from that. Some houses had wooden carved figures at their frontages, one being 'Rubezahl, Berggeist' (Rubezahl, Mountain Spirit). There was also a Troll and a scantily dressed Lorelei Siren. We left the village, after moving aside for a group of cyclists, by following a path running above the Winzbach. This led us around a corner where a faint hum grew louder and louder as we walked. Then, in an opening to our left we saw two beekeepers pulling out slats of honey from Beehives with the Bees buzzing around in a thick cloud of unhappiness. One of the Beekeepers turned and waved, gesturing us to move off quickly. We did not need a second prompt.

A very hot day for walkingA very hot day for walking
Even the sheep are in the shadeEven the sheep are in the shade

The sun was now very high into the sky and it was getting uncomfortably hot. Lil and I noted with a little frustration the lack of places for refreshment on the route. "A cafe would be nice. Or even a shop with a little shaded area to sit outside" said I, to which Lil agreed. But here and now , on the path curving on the edge of the uplands between Medenscheid and Oberdiebach there was no sign of anything remotely resembling a place of refreshment. It was hot and parched. Even the sheep we passed on the trail were keeping themselves in the shade of anything that would provide them with protection from the sun.

The path from Oberdiebach to RheindiebachThe path from Oberdiebach to Rheindiebach

Eventually we spotted Oberdiebach in the valley blow. "It looks big enough for a cafe or at least a shop to be there" said I. But as we edged down the slopes into the village nestled within a wine growing valley everything looked quiet. We doubted more the closer we got and true enough, there was not a hospitality of any kind to be found. And even if there had been one around any corner we failed to look there was the distinct probability that it would be shut. What we had just guessed is that everything shuts on Sunday in Germany. Except for the tourist hot spots and cities that is. It was a suspicion we had that was to be confirmed in a short while. For now though we found the village square, thankfully with bench and shade where we could eat our lunch. We still had drink and sandwiches and now was the time to enjoy them. Twenty minutes later, suitably refreshed, we followed the Rheinburgenweg path towards Rheindiebach.

Burg FürstenbergBurg Fürstenberg
Seeking shade wherever possibleSeeking shade wherever possible

Near to Rheindiebach, which the path skirts past, we caught sight of Burg Fürstenberg on the far side of the Gailsbach valley. The castle, now in complete ruin, has served many uses including a toll castle for boats travelling up and down this stretch of the Rhine. In its eight hundred year history it has been occupied by native Germans and several other nationalities including the Spanish, Swedish and French. Now unlike more prestigious neighbouring castles there seems no attempt to save it from decay. I don't mind that as much like English castle and monastic ruins it bears an historical reality. Nevertheless I would like to think its present state could be maintained for future generations to enjoy. From here, the Rheinburgenweg path took us on a course running parallel to the Rhine, all the way to Niederheimbach. Here, we would have finished our penultimate stage of the walk - suddenly realising how quickly we were approaching the end of our Rhine Castles Trail. But, we had an add-on. Niederheimbach was not the end of our walk today.

Niederheimbach and Lorch FerryNiederheimbach and Lorch Ferry
Heimburg in NiederheimbachHeimburg in Niederheimbach

Looking down on Heimburg Castle would have heralded our descent into Niederheimbach and finish but this second of two days when our accommodation was not on or very near the trail. We were staying in Oberheimbach, a mile up the valley road. And as our hotel, the Weinburg Schlosschen was unstaffed on Sundays, we needed food and drink for the evening. Not only that, we needed food now too. Down in Niederheimbach at noon we were disappointed to find everywhere shut but at least there was the Bahnhof from where a train could to take us into Bingen. Where we could eat and then stock up. So that is what we did, seeing Bingen and the finish of our walk a day early. Back in Niederheimbach with food in our bellies and drink in my backpack we had the last mile of the walk to do up to Oberheimbach. It was tough along the roadside. Both Lil and I were jiggered and relieved to reach the hotel at four in the afternoon. Weinburg Schlosschen was the best place we stayed during the whole walk. A bit more expensive than anywhere else but very nice. Though unstaffed instructions had been left on where to find drink and snacks. I need not have carried the drinks I bought in Bingen at all. Anyway, we had a lovely night on our veranda at the hotel watching the sun go down. "The last day tomorrow Mrs B. Looking forward to it?" I asked "Yes, it has been good but I am ready for a rest now" she said. We slept well.

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