In the ATG Footloose Walks brochure there’s a little section called “Finding Your Way” :
“The ATG Route Booklet includes detailed directions and maps, as well as up-to-date information on towns visited, places of interest, local history, restaurants, cafes and shops en route.”
Approaching Mittelbergheim from Barr
In addition to our Route Manager the other key to the success of our trip was The ATG Route Booklet. With this winning combination we knew we could set out each day with confidence knowing that we’d be able to find our way without difficulty. We could decide whether to either buy lunch before setting off from the village or buy it at a cafe or from a village patisserie/boulangerie on the route and eat in a charming village square or in the welcome shade of a churchyard.
You can’t go wrong – and we didn’t.
Our walk from Barr southwards to Kaysersberg covered about 38-39 miles. Sometimes we coincided with the famous pilgrim way of St Jacques de Compostelle. There seem to be many starting points to this major pilgrim route – I’ve seen another part of the route in Switzerland – but they all meet at Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. The grooves of the traditional scallop shell sign indicate the paths all converging onto Santiago de Compostela.
Luckily we were walking via Dieffenthal and Chatenois to St Hippolyte
Each village or small town which we passed through was distinctive and yet they all had several aspects in common: the half-timbered buildings, often gaily painted with flower-bedecked windows; decorated fountains, some with drinkable water and others not; wine growing businesses offering tastings (degustations); distinctive towers, arches and gates and quite a few had revived old medieval gardens demonstrating herbs and other useful plants.
Colourful houses in Andlau
Window in the sunshine at Dieffenthal
Drinking water fountain at Orschwiller
Medieval Garden at Chatenois
Tower/Gateway at Riquewihr
Fountain at Kaysersberg
Between the villages many of the tracks were alongside fields planted full-to-bursting with grape vines – still in the very early stages of growth for this summer. These were tracks were dotted with stone crucifixes and roadside shrines which were often included in our directions.
The Route Booklet offered us a daily choice of routes – higher and therefore longer and more remote or lower and generally shorter and passing through small centres of population. Until the last day we chose the lower routes as we found the villages delightful and the tracks easier. Despite this we covered over 10 miles a day on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th days and we had great views across the Rhine Valley to the German Black Forest and the Swiss Alps. Above us on our right loomed the defensive castles and fortresses prominently located on higher ground above the valley.
Haut Koenigsbourg Castle above St Hippolyte