The weather has been pretty chilly lately, and so dark. The past two weeks have been cloudy, drizzly, and generally depressing. When we saw the weather forecast for this weekend, we knew we had to get out and go for a castle hike!
Nearly every village in the part of Bavaria we live in has a small castle. They’re not Neuschwanstein, but they have the most amazing views of Bavarian countryside.
The closest castle ruins to us are in Hohenfels, just right down the road. I wrote a post about running through the village, and mentioned that part of my route passes in the shadow of a Medieval castle.
We had never been up to the castle before and weren’t exactly sure where to go. We parked in the small Parkplatz right off the main road and just walked straight towards the tower. The path goes up a (seemingly) private drive and very close to people’s houses. It feels like you shouldn’t be walking there, but as long as you’re respectful, you shouldn’t have an issue. A lot of the local Germans were puttering in the garages and around their gardens today, and we waved a friendly “Hallo!” to each of them.
The hike up to the ruins was short and easy, and there were some pretty amazing views of the town along the way. Up until this point, the only part of Hohenfels we had seen was along the main road during our runs through town. To my surprise, the village extends into a little valley and up a hillside–it’s much bigger than I thought!
It was 61 degrees (F) and mostly sunny. Perfect hiking weather! We’re dogsitting this weekend, so we brought our friend Octavius along to get some exercise. Let me tell you, this Shepherd puppy could probably run two consecutive marathons and still be hyper.
The path leads right up to the ruins of the square tower. This chunk is held together by mesh wire to prevent pieces from breaking off and tumbling down the hill.
The round tower, easily visible from the surrounding areas, is massive and in very good condition. We circled all the way around the tower to admire the stonework. It’s true that in Germany you never have to travel far to find history.
Between the round tower and the remains of the square tower is a grass path, forged by the people who have visited over time. It’s pretty overgrown and uneven, so I found myself stumbling a few times (but, I should probably mention I’m not the most graceful person).
On the end of the hill opposite the round tower is a rocky ledge. I inched out all the way to the edge (there are no guardrails anywhere on this hill), prayed that I wouldn’t “bloop” over the side, and got a nice view of the main street in Hohenfels.
I couldn’t believe how beautiful of a day it turned out to be. I mean, come on. Really. Look at this!
After descending the hill and going back to our car, we weren’t ready to go home. So, we went to visit another castle!
The town of Velburg is only a 15-minute drive from Hohenfels, and we heard great things from friends about the hike up to the castle ruins. The trek is longer, and the path to the castle is pretty steep. I enjoyed the walk, except for the fact that I stepped in so much deer and wild boar poop. When I say it was everywhere, I mean it was everywhere. I just couldn’t avoid stepping in it. There was also poop covering all the grassy areas around the castle. Lee and I ended up just laughing about it, but I would strongly advise against picnicking anywhere on this hill.
There was one family at the castle when we reached the top, but they quickly left and we felt like royalty with the castle all to ourselves.
We discovered a doorway that led to several flights of stairs to the top. Unfortunately, there was broken glass on the ground, so Lee stayed behind with our dogfriend while I went up alone.
The stairs were old stone with the addition of metal handrails. Halfway up is a wooden platform so you can take a break from white-knuckling the handrails to enjoy the view. Further towards the top, the stairs are all metal. The original stone must have eroded away over time. I held onto those handrails pretty tight… the stairs are really steep and narrow, and the height was just enough to make me nervous.
I kept stopping to look down at Velburg. It’s such a vibrant town, with houses in every color of the rainbow. The farmland that borders all sides and the gigantic turbines that loom in the distance really make it a postcard-worthy view.
At the very top were two directional plaques, so you can look out for miles towards neighboring cities and villages in every direction.
I could’ve stayed up there all day.
When I came back down, I took custody of our dogfriend and let Lee climb to the top. I walked around the castle grounds a little bit (trying to dodge the poop) and enjoyed some of the other views. There are so many great lookout spots, but the best one (other than the top of the castle, of course) was a rock wall right off the edge of the hilltop. To the right was the town of Velburg, and to the left was miles of farmland that looked more perfect than a golf course.
On the way out of town, Lee pulled over so I could get a shot of the hill. If you look really close, you can see the flag sticking out of the top of the castle.
And of course, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this lavender field. Isn’t Germany the greatest?