Deemed “One of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe” it confuses most people to learn that, while Saxon Switzerland (Sächsische Schweiz) IS in Saxony, it is absolutely NOWHERE near Switzerland!
The name was coined by two Swiss artists, Adrian Zing and Anton Graff, who felt that the strange landscape near Dresden, in Eastern Germany, reminded them of their homeland. Since it seemed a more romantic title than ‘The Heath above Schandau’ (Heide über Schandau) as part of the area was known, their name stuck – and was even pinched where the Elbe mountains continue into the Czech Republic, which became known as Bohemian Switzerland.
So, with all of this magnificence of nature to take in, our plan for the day; ‘Find another campsite’!
You might remember from last time that, although our site, Camping Am Treidlerweg, was right on the banks of the River Elbe, we were also just metres from the main train line and we needed some sleep! We also needed to find out where we could give the Pawsome Foursome a good run.
We dropped in at the main tourist office in Bad Schandau to see what information was available in English. They were very helpful – there is a book by Franziska Rößner on walks with dogs in the National Park, but it is only in German and was, as yet, beyond my ‘German in 3 Months’ capability!
The lady kindly photocopied the front page; an excellent informatic showing lead-free walks and detailing for each whether there was shade, steeps/steps/ladders to negotiate and if water was available along the route. She also marked out on our tourist map the areas both within and outside the boundaries of the National Park where we could take the pups off lead. With a smile, she promised me that, unlike in the Hainich National Park, “Dogsz off the lead vill NOT be shot!”
We found a campsite at Gohrisch, which was once the home of the composer Dimitri Schostakowitsch. Gohrisch is a pretty, touristy village just outside the boundaries of the National Park, so there was plenty of scope for off-lead walking, but the campsite was full until the end of the month! We drove to what had been our original choice of campsite, Camping Entenfarm (The Duck Farm!) near Hohnstein and realised that we had found home! We had been dazzled by the river Elbe. Why oh why had we not come here in the first place?!
Hohnstein is one of the areas where dogs can walk off lead and the drive on the north side of the river Elbe was utterly stunning, ascending through ancient beech forests. The campsite was verdant and tranquil and the lady running it was really friendly. We told her that we would arrive between 10-12 the following day.
So we fabricated a cunning plan for the next few days. We collated all our tourist information and checked the lead-free walks. Julia Bradbury did one of her ‘German Wanderlust‘ walks here and we have figured out our own route, which takes in most of the ‘must see’ sights and rock formations. The famous long-distance circular footpath, the Malerweg, or Painters Way’ has several sections on which dogs can walk off lead.
For now, however, we walked the dogs up the river Elbe again from the campsite Am Treidlerweg and waved at the paddle steamer. “Sunday night. There should be fewer trains…” we reassured ourselves. We don’t know if there were. Luckily, it was cooler, so we closed all windows and vents in the caravan and found that ear plugs really helped!
The following morning, as we packed up, we spoke the international language of music. The chap opposite has AC/DC emblazoned on the tank of his motorbike. “AC/DC was the first band I ever saw live!” I told him. “When?” He asked. “1978.” I replied. “Ah, Bon Scott!” Instant friendship! (Bon Scott was the ill-fated lead singer who died in February 1980, aged 33. Scott was replaced by Brian Johnson of the UK band ‘Geordie’. Johnson apparently impressed Aussie band AC/DC not only with his gravelly vocals but his encore, which involved him writhing around on stage screaming. It turned out later that this was due to an attack of appendicitis. Rock and Roll!)
Germany is certainly the place to come if you like retro rock music. A Richie Blackmore concert was advertised in Rothenberg ob der Tauber and Alice Cooper was performing with Deep Purple in Dresden. Unfortunately, not until November – ‘else I might have re-visited my Rock Chick Roots!
Campingplatz Entenfarm Hohnstein – GOB!
We were up and away and had pitched at Camping Entenfarm by around 11:30 in a green and peaceful area. Not a train to be heard. In fact, there was nothing to be heard! This was MUCH more like it!
We had a relaxed afternoon and then when it had cooled down a little, we did a walk locally. We parked at Porchdorf and took a Waldweg (forest walk) ‘Polenztalweg’ towards Waltersdorfer Muhl (Mill) where we crossed the river and walked back along the other side. It is not one of the big walks; you won’t find it given any particular mention in a guide book, but I am really glad that we did it. It was so utterly beautiful that it made our spirits soar!
We walked into the dappled light of a beech wood, with sandstone bastions hidden in the trees. A magical coloured river flowed in the bottom of the valley, followed as it was by banks of yellow and pink flowers. The water was made to glitter and sparkle by shafts of sunlight dancing through the trees. The mossy shade was welcome from the 30ºC heat. If this was a ‘nothing’ walk, we couldn’t wait for the main event tomorrow!
Mark and I agreed that the Saxon Swiss National Park is a definite GOB – Get onyer Bucketlist – and we ain’t seen nothing yet!
Saxon Switzerland – everyone needs to see this once in their lives!
Further Information on Walking with Dogs in the Saxon Swiss National Park;
- For ‘Walks with Dogs’ detailed on The Saxon Switzerland Website, click here & use Google Translate.
- 38 Tours… by Franziska Rößner is the guidebook in German that I mention. Click on the link and you can ‘look inside’. The Fred & Otto book on the National Park website is also published only in German!
- How to prepare for walking with dogs in Saxon Switzerland, click here.
- Click here & use Google Translate to link to a German blogger who bravely hiked the WHOLE of the Malerweg (Painters’ Way) with two dogs!
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