Monday, August 31, 2015

Vallorbe Circuit

Vallorbe is a small town in the Swiss Jura, nestled in a valley basin between the Dent de Vaulion to the south and the Mont d'Or to the north. It gained importance in the Middle Ages for its iron ore deposits and later for its large supplies of firewood. Its location on the French border also made it a travel hub in the area.

We visited Vallorbe to do a circular trail around the town past some its main attractions. We walked through the town to a beautiful forest which led to some small caves which are part of a large network of caves in the region.

Forest on the outskirts of Valorbe

Risoux Forest

Risoux Forest

Always following the trail markers

Entrance to some caves

We continued through the Risoux Forest to reach the Juraparc, a wildlife sanctuary with bears, wolves and bison. We didn't go in, but the trail led past some of the enclosures and we saw some bison and caught a glimpse of bears through the fence! The trail eventually widened into a road which led us back down into Vallorbe. It was a great 11km circuit and we saw many other attractions in the area which we'd like to explore on a return visit.

Forest trails

Forest trails

Bison in the Juraparc

A winding road back down the valley

Vallorbe nestled in a sunny valley

The River Orbe

Our route

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Black Forest

The Black Forest covers an area 160km long by 60km wide in south-west Germany. The area is densely wooded and was settled in the High Middle Ages. We camped just outside a small town called Herrenwies on the Black Forest High Road. The Westweg is the most famous trail through the Black Forest and runs right through the area where we were camping. It is 285km long, but we only explored a small section of this trail, following the white trail signs.

Herrenwies Cathedral

We followed white trail signs

We entered the Schwarzwald just north of Herrenwies and worked our way up to the highest point of the district where the Friedrich Tower stands. We climbed 168 steps up the spiral staircase of the tower and through the iron dome at the top. The views from the top were beautiful - forest stretching in every direction. We then worked our way back down through the forest to the picturesque Herrenwies Lake.

Leaving the campsite
Entering the Black Forest

Friedrich Tower

360° views over the forest from the top of the tower

A forest trail on the way down

Herrenwies Lake

After a very peaceful's night's sleep at the edge of the forest, we headed off to see the Gertelbach Falls. These are a continuous stretch of cascades and pools running down the western side of the Black Forest. We then drove round to the town of Forbach to walk another section along the Westweg, this time to Schwarzbach, a large hydroelectric dam.

The trail to the falls

Beautiful bridges and moss-covered rocks

Part of the Gertelbach Falls

Schwarzbach lake

A squirrel in the forest

Lots of forest

The Black Forest is a beautiful part of the world, full of interesting trails, lakes and waterfalls. Next time we might explore one of the Wine Routes which runs through the forest!


We drove up to Germany for our friend Annette's wedding in Lennestadt, stopping at the Black Forest along the way. The whole trip was excellent, but the highlight for Daniel was driving really fast on the Autobahn!

Our first stop was in the town of Freiburg, Germany's sunniest city. Freiburg is a medieval town with gabled houses, cobblestone lanes and cafe-rimmed plazas. The old part of the city is dominated by the Freiburger Münster, and the surrounding streets are lined with the famous system of canals. They say that a visitor who steps in these canals has not visited Freiburg for the last time!

Sunny Freiburg

Freiburger Münster

A plaza with a canal in the foreground

Yellow ducks enjoying a canal!

After our trip to the Black Forest we drove up to Lennestadt where we kicked off the wedding celebrations with a trip to the Krombacher Brewery. This was an excellent tour which ended with a superb feast of drink-as-much-beer-as-you-like!

Krombacher Brauerei

We stayed at the wedding venue which was a working farm called Quinkenhof. The ceremony was held in a small chapel on the farm and was conducted by the bride's father. It was lovely to catch up with some old friends and to enjoy the traditional German folk music at the reception!

Quinkenhof Farm

The small farm chapel