Pillbox Heaven – #CampTramps2016

Here’s a fishy tale! So yesterday, we arrived at the next stop on #CampTramps2016,  a small village called Barmston, a few hundred metres from the E. Yorks coastline, south of Bridlington. The site, Rectory Farm is fine, adult only (couldn’t eat another kid) and comes complete with showers…so Yippeee….sorted. The areas very flat, but with a warm easterly breeze it’s very pleasant, and an ideal base for some local exploring.

Rectory Farm

Rectory Farm

The Dog Walk

The Dog Walk

Yesterday after parking up the Chucklebus, we wandered off for a walk towards the beach. En-route we noticed an info board, that mentioned World War 2 Pillboxes (Fortified bunkers, providing coastal defence). As the font of all knowledge and keen to claim bragging rights in our little group, I mentioned to the other half, that my old battalion had been based near Bridlington in WW2, having suffered a severe mauling during the Dunkirk Withdrawal in May 1940. “Oh yes pet, what would you like for tea tonight?”

So, once we got back to the van, I fired up the laptop and well, you could’ve knocked me down with a feather! It only transpires, that my old rifle company…A Coy 1RWF had been based in Barmston during that period of 1940. How amazing is that! Who knew? Well, that put a different perspective on this part of our travels, such is the adaptable nature of the Brit ex-squaddie, that I quickly re-roled this stopover into a full-blown battlefield tour. The Other Half’s face was a picture of absolute joy!

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Today, I was up like a firecraker, with possible pillbox locations marked into the phones mapping, we set off to explore, trooping through the centre of Barmston,  Me, the Other Half and Mutt the Dog.

The Story:

1RWF had a tough 2nd World War. It started at Dunkirk, with almost 65% of its strength killed, wounded or captured during those bloody two weeks of May 1940. Figures indicate some 260 + men made it back to the UK.

Initially they were sent by train to Huddersfield, to recover, regroup and get back up to manned strength. This was in the crucial period when it really was expected that the enemy would invade, the Battle of Britain was raging and we needed to defend our shores.

A lonely place

A lonely place

By the middle of June, the battalion was sent to provide coastal defence along the East Yorkshire Coast concentrated in the Beeford and Barmston areas. My old rifle company Alpha Company, came here to Barmston, Later Delta Company also operated from this location. The soldiers lived amongst the Barmston population in pubs, digs, anywhere they could, they even occupied the now empty caravan sites in the Barmston and Lissett area. They were tasked to man the pillboxes hastily constructed along this part of the coast, camouflaged from the air and supported by beach wire entanglements, anti-tank blocks and various other methods to slow down an invasion or seaborne/para assault.

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For the men, this was a relentless, serious task, the country faced a very real threat. During their period at Barmston they were subjected to numerous air raids, and were required to provide anti-aircraft fire against enemy fighters and bombers, sometimes on a daily basis. In one occasion in Aug 1940 they even assisted in shooting down a bomber. During those summer months they often witnessed dogfights between Spitfires and German fighters overhead. Heady times.

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This was ideal training for the men in operating their rifles and Brens, especially as most of them who had joined the battalion Post-Dunkirk had never experienced actual combat. But because of the nature of the task, it restricted the more detailed training the new men required, so by the October of that year, they were relieved and moved on to the next stage of their war.

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This would involve sailing to the far-east in 1942, fighting the Japanese at Donbaik in 1943, again suffering heavy casualties, then, less than 12 months later in Apr/May 1944, the hell that was called “Kohima”, where again they endured heavy casualties and terrible hardship. I’m sure that some of them in 1944, crouching down in their trenches on Summerhouse Hill, Kohima, looked back to those days amongst the folk of East Yorks with great fondness and appreciation.

If anyone fancies a look around the area, this stretch of coastline is rich with the remnants of its WW2 past. To assist I’ve plotted the seven pillboxes I visited north of Barmston.

 

Some of the Pillboxes North of Barmston

Some of the Pillboxes North of Barmston

Tomorrow we head onto the N. Yorkshire Moors, no more battlefield tours for this callsign on this trip!

That is all.

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Hols at Hull – #CampTramps2016

Yep, you read it right…HULL, we’ve been staying here for the last few days, well just south of the city, on the southern bank of the Humber at a lovely little Caravan Club CL called Roxton, a mile or so from Barton Upon Humber. As we look across the Humber towards Hull, the Bridge is to the west(left) of us!

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Roxton CL

Roxton CL

The Roxton site is very quiet, basic facilities in a peaceful garden setting, in fact it is actually someones garden! EHU, lots of greenery, all topped off with a victorian potting shed converted into a loo….My life’s complete. Did I mention the bloody wood pigeons? No?….Cooing away every morning at 5am….In the end I woke the other half, so she could hear them! I was close to deploying her to throw stones at them(she likes to do that, not at animals in particular…just things!), but I eventually decided to leave them alone…Down girl, back in the van!

The Humber looking towards the North Sea

The Humber looking towards the North Sea

The southern bank of the Humber has been developed to support and encourage wildlife, now that the heavy industry has declined. This is enhanced by Spurn Point, that juts out of the Northern bank and is a desgnated bird sanctuary. It feels very dutch, or similar to parts of the Baltic coast with the high man-made dyke that contours along the river bank, heading towards the North Sea, with the Waters Edge Visitors Centre at the western end. From the dyke, heading inland are miles of footpaths taking you off the beaten track. It’s a dogwalkers paradise and very flat and underused. Over the two days of walking we’ve passed maybe 20 people on the river bank, so for the middle of August, a very quiet peaceful area. I would recommend a 1:25,000 OS map, to enable you to pick up the myriad of footpaths that criss cross the area.

The Humber Bridge

The Humber Bridge

Likewise, if you’re into sailing, fishing etc, there are a few lakes, dotted along the bank that offer those facilities. There is also a local train service that follows the Humber, should you feel the need to travel further afield to the outlying towns and villages.

So today, we’ve upped sticks and are now parked up on a quite windy East Yorks coastline at Barmston……showers…yaaaaay! More to follow.

That is all.

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The Opening Bit! #CampTramps2016

So, 2016, well what a year so far! and now it’s summer(sic), where to?

In a satirical nod to Brexit, we’ve gone all isolationist this year and are currently trundling around the Albion. Hopefully next year it’ll be “Vive La France” ….assuming the French have a sense of humour and let us in!

Anyway, we’re five days into this years trip and are having our last night at Grin Low, a CC Site just outside Buxton, Derbyshire, in the heart of the Peak District. A good site, which has matched our expectations of Caravan Club Main Sites. There are plenty of walks directly from the site, including a short one to Solomons Temple, just a 10 minute stroll from Grin Low. This fortified hill marker, which you can enter and climb sits atop a bronze age barrow and offers great views from its position 440m’s above sea-level.

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The Other Half, surveys her territory

Our group of friends left for home today, leaving us with a mixture of sadness, tinged with some relief as I don’t think the old liver can take much more of the late nights and liquid intake. So the middle-aged partying(oxymoron) is over….lets get down and dirty.

The Peaks (sometimes overlooked) are a great place to holiday in the UK, testified by the amount of family’s camping and taking part in outdoor activities throughout the area. The towns and villages are very well appointed, with lots of decent bars, food outlets, outdoor shops, and a high concentration of supermarkets, such as Waitrose, which is always a good combat indicator of an areas popularity.

One area worth looking at, which we’ve blogged about before is “The Roaches” a millstone grit feature, which is great for treking along. It encompasses Lud’s Church, nr Gradbach, Staffs.  A deep fissure, which has a slightly mystical feel to it, the Mutts and Ffion, his lab buddy seemed to enjoy it…..”Spot The Lab!”

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Lud’s Church

Future Plans! No Idea. But we do fancy visiting some areas we normally wouldn’t get to see, we’re really running with the wind on this trip. Tomorrow we are heading to a place called “Barrow Haven”, which is south of the River Humber, directly opposite Hull. A two night stop in a tiny site, whilst we ponder the next stage.

Right….Season 6, Ep 1….Game of Thrones!

That is all.

 

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Dolgadfan CL – Near Llanbrynmair

We’ve just had an excellent four nights, nestled away on a little farm campsite called Dolgadfan at Bont Dolgadfan, a few miles south of Llanbrynmair. This is one of the outlying villages of the larger town of Machynlleth, Mid Wales   Dolgadfan CL

The ChuckleBus looked quite the “Bobby Dazzler” parked up here, with his new Pirelli tyres that had been fitted in the spring, after an “incident” at Wern Ddu campsite near Abergavenny. When back in March,  the “Tractor of Shame” had to be summoned to tow us off the campsite to the sound of light applause! Hence the new tyres.

Anyway, I digress. The site, it’s a working farm, run by Gwenda and her son Brychan and a fine place it is too. For us, three elements were attractive. Firstly the location, we’ve always fancied a bit of walking in area of Mid Wales between Newtown and Machynlleth, this spot is not to far from where we live and very picturesque. Secondly, you can access the hill walks directly off the site, we don’t want to be faffing about with 3 mile road walks just to get to the first footpath…I’m nearly fifty five for gods sake, times running out, lets get on with it!

Finally, the site had a shower/toilet, with underfloor heating, which is a bonus for a CL. A nice hot shower after a hard day in the hills, i’ll have some of that please.

Right, lets set the scene…The arrow marks the spot!….told you it was “nestled”

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Dol 3

Dolgadfan Farm

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The Site

Facilities wise, it suited our needs. The toilet and shower cubicle were one of the best we’d encountered on a CL, they were immaculate, no coin slots and fitted with underfloor heating! Visitors have a choice of hard or grassed pitches, all with EHU, plus water points dotted around. Also plenty of areas to walk the Mutt…..Remember him?

Comms: The digital signal is variable, on some pitches you can pick up freeview, but not all. NO DAB, but we have an FM radio as back up, so no issues there. I could pick up a 3 network signal on the MIFI and phone so we had some internet and could make/receive calls. Of course, once you climb out of the valley, most of the major phone networks click in. So my advice if you need entertainment for the evenings, load up your kindle and chuck in a box set. We did lots of both, which made for a really relaxing stay.

Did I mention with the dog, £16 pn. Happy with that.

Bit of an embarrassing incident on day two! The couple in the next van overheard me singing in the campsite shower “Dressed for Success” by Roxette, without accompanying music! Ewwwww: Songs not to sing in the Campsite Shower

The Walks: You’re spoilt for choice really, over to the west you can quickly get up onto Mynydd Ty’r Sais, to the east you have Newydd Fynyddog, with the wind farms beyond. You can make the walks as hard or easy as you like, the one guarantee is the up-hill bit when you leave the campsite, but that’s part of the fun (so I tell the other half!) Most of the walking routes are well marked by Powys CC. Just be aware some of the map marked routes are deviated sometimes by the council to bypass shall we say “less” welcoming farmers, just one or two in this general area. Overall though a great place to hike. Look out for the groups of Red Kites that congregate in this area, as you climb onto the higher ground you will see lots of them overhead, amazing looking birds.

Dol 4

Muttley!

Dol 5

Sheep! But look at the panorama

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A Red Kite overhead

This site would be a brilliant location for friends to gather in the holidays, maybe Xmas/New Year or similar. You have the hard standing pitches, a decent toilet/shower with underfloor heating and walks directly from the site. Yep, we liked this place and we’re going to re-visit.

That is all.

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The Hibernation Ends

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#DeutscheBimble15 – Ypres. A City for all Seasons

Day 19 – Aachen

1774 Miles

 We departed Lemgo on Sunday morning. Unlike the UK, the Germans and indeed most of the other Euro countries still seem to treat Sunday as a day of rest, so the autobahn was blissfully quiet for a good portion of the 2.5hr journey. We arrived in Aachen and located the campsite, which was a few Km’s outside of the city centre. Nothing to report as we didn’t venture in.

Day 20 – 22 Ypres

1940 Miles

We arrived at Ypres at lunchtime on the Monday, this to be our 20th night in the van. We found the site easily, stopping off beforehand to stock up at the nearby Aldi. The campsite is pleasant and best of all, an easy ten-minute walk from Ypres Town Centre. For those interested, it’s “Camping Jeugstadion” and costs about €15 pn. With EHU and free wifi. Reservations can be made online.

The Town Centre

The Town Centre

For the last three days we have spent the time, strolling into the town centre, enjoying the café bars and war history. Beer features heavily!

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We also got the Mutts boxed off, with a visit to a local vet in the town for his obligatory worming dose, the details of which were duly entered into his passport….he’s sorted!

Ypres. Although the town was left in ruin during the Great War, it was sympathetically rebuilt in the 1920’s and is a wonderful place to spend a few days. Obviously the war features heavily, but they have managed to get the balance right here. It’s not at all sombre, it’s a happy vibrant place to be, but with certain aspects that generate remembrance. For me, it’s a much nicer place than Bruges; it’s small, easy to get access too and very friendly. This will be somewhere we will definitely return, possibly in a car, so we can visit the battlefield sites that surround the area.

The sides streets leading into the Grote Markt

The sides streets leading into the Grote Markt

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The sides streets leading into the Grote Markt

One evening we attended the Last Post at the Menin Gate, which is located 200 metres from the town centre. Best get there early for the best view of what is, a very moving ceremony.

The crowds are gathering

The crowds are gathering

This ceremony has taken place every evening at 8pm since 1928, other than a gap during the German Occupation of WW2, when the ceremony continued at Brookwood Military Cemetary in Surrey. Indeed when the Polish Forces arrived to liberate the town in 1944, the day they entered, whilst they were still fighting the Germans on one side of the town, the ceremony took place on the other side! The names of every Commonwealth soldier killed, without a known grave is listed. A sombre reminder of what my grandparents generation went through.

The Last Post

The Last Post

A side view of the Menin Gate

A side view of the Menin Gate

We also walked around the towns ramparts, which passes through two Commonwealth War Cemeteries; Reservoir and Rampart, both small in comparison to the cemeteries located further outside the town. I always feel peaceful when walking in the war cemeteries, there is something about the very nature of them that makes me relaxed and contemplative, I try to think that these mainly young men, taken in the fullness of their lives are merely resting. A sad place, yes, but certainly very peaceful and atmospheric, their war is done. The Commonwealth Graves Cemeteries are often set in beautiful locations; Ramparts Cemetery on the edge of Ypres town, is one such place.

Ramparts Cemetery

Ramparts Cemetery

Ramparts Cemetery

Ramparts Cemetery

The directions to the cemeteries further outside the town.

The directions to the cemeteries further outside the town.

We also spotted a recent addition close to the Menin Gate, a neat tribute to the Gurkhas who lost their lives in the Great War.

The Gurkha Memorial

The Gurkha Memorial

So all in all, a great place to spend our last night on #DeutscheBimble15, before starting the final leg tomorrow. As I write this, the Other Half is once again practising her hockey swing in preparation for our “Assault on Calais” tomorrow lunchtime. TBH I’m not worried about the migrant aspect, I’m more concerned about the duty-free situation! I’m thinking I will shop at Dunkirk mid-morning, then hit Calais at about Warp Factor 3 with a right flanker..totally unexpected, just before the suns at its highest point! I’ll be in the tunnel before they know it… Fingers crossed!

That is all

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#DeutscheBimble15 – A Time for Reflection

Not the normal type blog, slightly more wistful. Indulge me dear reader.

Day 16 – Rain (Bavaria) 1235 Miles

Early on Thursday morning, we made the final decision that we would start pushing north with the intention of visiting a place where I’d lived as soldier, some thirty three years previous. We started on the 400 mile journey, basically heading up the map in the direction of Augsburg. We followed the Romantic Strasse for much of the way, stopping near Neuschwanstein Castle for the obligatory picture.✓ The area was heaving with tourists and coaches….we moved on.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Eventually arriving at Rain, a small town near Ingolstadt, that offered up a free stellplatze…yes free! including electric. So we stayed here for the night, God it was hot, 32c in the shade, poor old Mutts was in bits.

Day 17- 18 Lemgo (North-Rhine Westphalia) 1595 Miles

Next morning up at early doors, with 350 miles to get under our belts we pushed on. The Chucklebus thrashed along the Autobahn, drawing lots of amused glances along the way, we must have been the only brit vehicle in Southern Germany, I haven’t seen any others since Day 9! so much so, I’m almost losing command of my own language, as the Mutts obviously doesn’t speak English and the Other Half is from N. Ireland, you see my predicament. I now talk in Germanglish, verstehen? We reached Lemgo, which is a few miles N/E of Bielefeld, just after lunch after five hours on the road. The first thing that confronted me was the toothless hag on reception at Camping-Park Lemgo. She really was a horrible lady, and as a now recognised master of Germanglish, I caught her anti-British comments and gestures to one of the other guests. However I’m now a grown-up, so I smiled sweetly and booked us in for two nights, whilst putting her name in my mental “Black Book”….C’mon, we all have one!

Right then, the back-story. I arrived in Lemgo on the 10th Oct 1978, a spotty, wimpy, skint, 17yr old kid. This was to be my home on and off until August 1982. During the intervening period, the army would throw everything at me, that would undoubtedly put it’s mark on me for later life. I made really close friends, who are still friends now, I travelled the world with them, I faced danger with them, I got drunk with them,…lots! and like any self-respecting Brit away from home I partied like it was 1999!  I grew up quickly living amongst guys from so many differing backgrounds, you develop survival skills, or you falter and fall by the wayside. The army’s a great parent as long as you fit in!

During this five year period I was exposed to the best in mankind and as part of my service, was also witness to the very worst. I don’t say this to make the story bigger than it is, everyone I served with has a story to tell. But as I write this having spent the last two days reflecting on my time here from 1978, it struck me profoundly how important those five years in Lemgo was to me personally. For all that was to follow in my life, the Lemgo period was the building block, both good and bad. When we came to leave in August 1982, I was happy to go. I felt restricted, unfulfilled and I missed the UK. I felt my life was passing me by, but of course it wasn’t. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was actually living it, full-on, 100%, to the maximum.

Over the intervening years I’ve never felt a desire to return. Now, with grown-up children, and a recent much-loved addition of a grandson, I find myself more and more looking back at my life thus far. Until a week ago I had no intention to return, however, as the days have passed I’ve changed my mind, and realised I may not be this way again, anytime soon. So we’ve visited, and I’m so glad we did. It’s been a weekend of reflections, nothing sad, just a chance to roll back the years and see whats what.

This weekend trip occurs just over thirty three years after I departed. When I arrived in 1978, it was thirty three years since the barracks had been in the hands of the Wermacht in 1945, whilst my dad was serving as a wartime Royal Engineer! A very bizarre set of facts perhaps, but in my mind I’ve established to myself where I am in the family generational markers,…my Grandson was born 33 years after I left here, so a small series of personal links and a nice little timeline for me to ponder.

Today, although the camp is gone, the buildings survive, but are now converted into apartments. The drill square is now a children’s play area, complete with grass and trees….I like that, it’s something good, let me show you:

Lemgo 1941 - SS Parade outside what was later the rear of the Naafi

Lemgo 1941 – Parade outside what was later the rear of the Naafi

Now the next picture showing the same view today.

The children park

The childrens park

Later we strolled into the town, I hadn’t realised what a beautiful place it was. It’s history had completely passed me by when I was a young man, probably rightly so, I was busy in other areas! But now looking at it, sat in one of the 16th century squares, enjoying a drink at one of the now numerous pavement cafes, I realised how differently the world looks when your seventeen, compared to what I was viewing now as a world-wiser middle-aged man. Time is a great educator!

Cafe Life. Near the Rathaus

Cafe Life. Near the Rathaus

The Rathaus square

The Rathaus square

The top of the Mittle Strasse, Lemgo

The top of the Mittle Strasse, Lemgo

Tomorrow, normal business resumes. We are driving across to the border city of Aachen, where we will overnight, before heading to Ypres in Belgium for a three night stay.

Thanks for indulging me.

That is all.

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#DeutscheBimble15 – And Jack Came Tumbling Down!

Day 13 – 15 Tannheim (Austria)

1126 Miles

We left Oberstdorf early on Monday morning, not really sure where we would end up! At some point we crossed over into Austria, so I stopped, coughed up the required €8.50 for the vignette, that is a charge for all foreign vehicles on Austrian roads…(Why don’t we do that in the UK, a nice little earner to help improve our road system). We then started to climb up into the Tyrol, through a series of hairpins, great fun for me…

The area

The area

We were heading to Ruete, our plan was to stop briefly, have a few pics in Austria for the album, then swing north to Fussen. That plan dissipated as we climbed to a height of about a 1000 metres and the vista of the glorious Tannheim Valley opened up in front of us.

Tannheim Valley

Tannheim Valley

We spotted a campsite on the mountainside, directly below the Einstein Peak and after a conversation with Caroline at Camping Alpenwelt we decided we would have three nights here

http://www.tannheimertal-camping.com

The site is fairly small, quiet and well equipped. We bagged a south facing pitch at the top of the site…well happy!

The Alpen Welt Campsite

The Alpenwelt Campsite

We spent the afternoon on a stroll down to the main town of Tannheim. Just a 30 minute walk away. Through the small alpine hamlets, pasture land, then into the clean, beautifully designed town.

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During the walk I’d been taking note of the peak that dominated the skyline above our campsite; Gilpfel Einstein, at 1860m it was a chance to bag a decent peak by British standards, and with great weather and a fairly well-defined track with just a hint of scrambling, well within our capabilities.

The Assault on Gipfel Einstein

Next morning, we were on our way fairly sharpish, I wanted to get up on top by lunchtime. Initially the approach was through a forest track, that climbed, and climbed and climbed! It took about an hour to get to the point where the terrain changed, the path became narrower, steeper, more rocky, this was the start of the grafting stage.

As we climbed, we came across a memorial fixed to a tree. A loose translation below:

The memorial to  Gottfried Ammann

The Way to God is Over the Mountain

in Memory

of 

Gottfried Ammann

The Host of the Shepherds Hut

For you God, you created us, and our heart is restless, till it rests in you.

                                                                                          Holy Augustine

We were now 2/3rds of the way to the top and the Other Half was requiring that tender, nurturing encouragement, that ex-British Army NCO’s are famous for. I like to call it “The velvet fist in an iron glove”. I went through the A-Z of “Encouragement Tips for Sadists. By now she hated me, it wasn’t only the heat of the sun burning into my back as we climbed. Oh by the way! did I mention the wasp sting? Little blighter crawled up the inside leg of my Borat style shorts and stung me on the inner thigh, I’m sure I caught the glimmer of a slight smile on the face of the Other Half, through my tear-filled eyes. You might think this was my Karma moment?, oh no, this was to come later!

If looks could kill………...

If looks could kill…………

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On the final ridge

During this stage of what we will now call “The Epic Struggle”, we’d been overtaken by about 4 groups of German/Austrian couples and a couple of old geezers cheerily making their way to the summit. I had sort of hoped they might be gone by the time we reached the peak, but no such luck, with our last scramble tottering precariously between victory on one side, and a substantial period of falling on the other, we made it! Bless the locals, they must have had a discussion about us, as they sportingly raised a resounding cheer as our sunburnt heads and one x knackered poodle appeared over the final precipice! Gipfel Einstein was ours!

Victory!

Victory!

The view

The view

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Not bad for an iphone snap

A happy bunny.

A happy bunny.

We stayed on the summit, long enough to savour the views, give the Mutts his dinner and rehydrate ourselves. We then commenced the walk down. No Problemo you might think? Now it’s been a long running saga between me and the other half about the state of my boots, well the soles actually, which are almost worn flat in places! I’d been whinging for the best part of 12 months that I needed a new pair.  If the truth be told, I’m to tight to fork out on a new pair, and she won’t encourage me to buy new ones, so stalemate!…Mistake No 1.

You guessed it, about 15 minutes into the descent, I was happily skipping from rock to stone, interspersed with steep gravel tracks, when my world suddenly took on a new aspect, as I found myself defying gravity(but not in a good way) as my feet seemed to leave the ground on their own accord…..snap, nano-sec thought…”this is going to hurt“. Somehow I turned over mid-flight and crashed to the floor, pretty much unable to break my fall, very conscious that my forehead was just about to smash into the rock…..Now a few weeks ago, I managed to crowd source a new Tilly Hat for my birthday, basically I blagged a couple of friends and family to chip in for it. It’s my pride and joy!  So, as my head closed in on the aforementioned rock, I’m sure sub-consciously I was thinking…”Tilly Hat/Forehead/Blood/Avoid and as such, managed to put the brakes on my neck muscles. All I felt (from this part of the body)was the front peak softly resting between the rock and my forehead.  This dear friends was only part of my Karma moment!

I managed to get to my feet, light-headed and a little sore on the knees, with a cut hand, and with “gentle encouragement” from the Other Half staggered to a nearby tree for shade and to sort out my ailments. As I plonked myself down, I dumped my daysac on the ground…Mistake No 2.

I watched in horror as my daysac, suddenly rolled down the steep bank I was perched above. Faster and faster it rolled. This bag contained my wallet, camera and the crucial van keys. Mutts our wonder-dog, dutifully chased the bag, at one point I even fancifully thought he might grab it, and return it to his master, like always happens in the Lassie films. No chance, after a few seconds, and with a hop and a skip, he lost interest in that game and returned to me looking for bloody treats! Then in my ear I heard these comforting words “Off you go pet!” as the OtherHalf made it clear this was my mess, and I WAS going to have to get us out of it. So with bleeding hand, grazed knees, stung inner thigh and bruised pride, I descended down the steep bank for about 100ms, where I recovered the daysac, that had fortunately caught in some bushes, before falling any further. I was knackered, sore and ready to go home!

After that, I lost my appetite for alpine walking, and returned to the campsite, looking like a bloodied survivor  from “The Last of the Alamo.”  Meanwhile the Mutts and the Other Half, strolled in like true alpine warriors…..like they were born to climb!

Later today, we are strolling to a nearby hotel, where rumour has it, you can see Germany’s highest mountain the Zugspitze from the restaurant balcony! Now that’s my sort of Alpine trekking!

Tomorrow we head to Fussen, and the castle made famous in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang… Schloss Neuschwanstein.

That is all.

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#DeutscheBimble15 – Cows with Bells! and other Trivia.

Days 9-12 Stettin – Oberstdorf

1091 Miles

After departing Hinterholz, we drove south to Meersberg, which is on the shore of Lake Constance, the area was absolutely “rammed” with pesky tourists! so we continued on for a few kilometres, finally getting a spot at Stettin, a “Nothing much to write home about” sort of place. So we stayed a night, and then moved swiftly on the next morning.

Our next port of call was Oberstdorf, deep in Southern Bavaria, just a few kilometres from the Austrian border. This was more like it, and vaguely familiar! It turns out I was here in 1982, doing a spot of military skiing, I don’t remember much about that alcohol-fueled fortnight, other than an incident in a Bavarian cellar bar, involving a wall-mounted red plastic lobster, the loss of my Harrington jacket and along with my mate Gags, barely escaping the cellar bar (called the Aquarius”) with our lives, albeit battered andbruised….ahhh happy days!  Anyway, I’m now assuming the bar is long gone, along with the local Chief of Police, and my Harrington! So we decided to park up at Camp Rubi and have three nights in this glorious place.

Camp Rubi

Camp Rubi

The site is nestled below the Nebelhorn, which is some 2224 metres in height and a mecca for parascending.

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Fortunately the ever-efficient Germans have laid on a cable car, so that lazy good for nothing Brits, can get to the top of the mountain without breaking into a sweat…”I’ll have some of that” I cried.  So on an overcast early Saturday morning with sandwiches and wet proofs packed, Me, the Other Half and Mutts the dog, made our way to the Nebelhorn Bahnhof. With a steely determination, that makes the British famous the world over….We would get our cable car ticket, we would ride that cable car, and we would get to the summit of Nebelhorn at 2.224metres! (I’m filling up with pride as I pen this).

 Eine Problem! The Mutts had to wear a muzzle in the cable car, which the ticket office, with an eye on profit also sold! To say the Mutts was not happy was probably an understatement. Looking a little like Hannibal Lector, he whined, he howled, he pawed at his face…errrm #embarrassing. I suspect Mutts was doing other things when they were handing out British “Stiff upper lips” at Dover on the outward-trip.

A nice chianti……..

A nice chianti……..

So after a stiff talking too, threats of violence, pleading, and bribery we managed to drag him onto the cable car.  This routine continued at the next two stops, until we finally made it to the summit, which would have been quite a pleasant ride, if we’d have been lacking a certain dog! 

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In between

In between “Dog Wrestling” a snatched shot from the cable car.

We’d started the journey at the bottom “ala brit” union jack shorts, cut off tee-shirts, flip-flops, you know the routine. The type of stuff you can see on any British mountain on any given weekend of the year. By the time we had reached the top, the summer kit was away and we were fully gore-texed, because unlike the base of the mountain, it was raining sideways at the top.

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We then started the walk down, which took a couple of hours. A really enjoyable walk, along quite steep tracks, in the rain, until we dropped below the cloud base and could really enjoy the alpine views. Brilliant. Even the dog enjoyed it.

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1970’s German Tourism Poster

Oh! Another bucket list item ticked off….Cows with bells!

A cow…with a bell!

A cow…with a bell!

This afternoon, we’ve been invited to an old army buddy’s house a couple of Km’s outside of the town, for a couple of beers and a bite to eat. Should be be good.

Next? Maybe a bit of the “Romantic Strasse” from Fussen – Augsburg…. basically heading up towards Munich.  We move on tomorrow morning, Monday.

That is all.

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#DeutscheBimble15 – Black Forest Heaven

Day 7 – 8 Neustadt – Hinterholz(Black Forest)

940 Miles

We left Neustadt early on the Tuesday morning, with no real plan, other than to drive to Baden-Baden and pick up the Bundesstrasse B500. This tourist road, built in the 1930’s takes you south from Baden-Baden, through a 2.5km tunnel, it then climbs over the high ground that dominates the north of the Black Forest. The road cuts below the highest point at Hornisgrinde at a height of about 1000m. So to give that some perspective, the road at it’s highest point is just a bit lower than Mt Snowdon. It’s fairly underused, although the pace of life picks up in the winter as the cross-county skiers arrive en-masse. The Chucklebus dealt with the road admirably, although the new set of rear brake pads we had fitted prior to the trip had an opportunity to bed in on the way down! Especially when the one “pimmelkopf” on the road…a middle-aged brit biker, decided at one of the numerous suicidal bends for an overtake. (We saw him later down at the base, I signalled what a good rider he was!)

After climbing over that feature the landscape changed and the area became a mixture of huge swathes of forests interspersed with alpine style villages and pastureland. Beautiful, isolated and peaceful. At this stage we were following the satnav, which took us deeper into the forests, off the main routes…life was getting interesting, lots of switchbacks, hairpins and hill-climbs, all within steep forestry.

This is where we are now. Hinterholz

This is where we are now. Hinterholz

Eventually we ended up in a small hamlet called Hinterholz, consisting of two houses, one of which was a stube. http://www.hinterholzstube.de

Hinterholz. The van is parked behind the facing barn. The pub to the right.

I spoke to the young fraulein who answered in perfect English. Yes! we could park the van here for €5 per night, with electric, “just park alongside the barn”. Happy days, what a fantastic spot, even the mutts was doing cartwheels, especially when he spotted the goats! It turned out that english-speaking Julia was the niece of Heinz, the proprietor of the pub, a really nice guy, who has the good fortune to live in what many brits would consider to be paradise. We certainly did. Without hesitation we decided this would be our base for the next two nights.

The Parking Space!

The Parking Space!

A view!

A view!

Another View!

Another View!

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A damp stroll back to the Chucklebus

So we’ve spent our time doing some forest walks, glimpsing sight of the occasional deer, and generally chilling out. The weather hasn’t been great, similar to the UK I suppose, although slightly warmer, despite the rain. This evening we are planning on a bratty and a couple of beers at the stube, we still can’t believe our luck in finding this….perhaps this is the norm? We will see as we move further south towards Bavaria over the next few days!

Tomorrow we up sticks and drive south to Meersburg, on the shore of Lake Constance.

Stube Update: For “Essen” this evening. Black Forest dry cured bacon(makes a change from gateau). Also rib steak sausage cutlets. Washed down with ice cold Alpirsbach BierVery rustic and very South Germany. The doggy bag is on a full security lockdown until tomorrow.

That is all.

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