Werfen, Where Eagles Dare

Travelling in the shoulder season isn’t always great for finding places to stay, particularly if you’re looking for a campsite, especially one with a washing machine.

Heading south out of Salzburg, on the climbing A10 motorway, we gambled on the only campsite at Werfen being open. It was advertised as opening today – Monday April 22nd.

View of the Werfen Valley

Indeed we were greeted enthusiastically and declared “die erste gäste” the very first guests of the season!

Pitched next to the fast-flowing and wide Salzach River and neighbouring rail line we saw the fabulous DB trains that we had been travelling on making their way down to Trieste in Italy – our destination.

Now out of danger of heavy frosts, we had a nervous few moments whilst we finally re-commissioned Bertha’s water systems , flushing the air-locked pipes and filling the water heater whilst the pump noisily banged away at the air bubbles. No need for concern though – she was soon back on running hot and cold water for the first time on our trip!

Water systems back on by the Salzach River

Elated, we headed out on the riverside cycle path up to the pretty medieval town of Werfen overseen by its fabulous cliff-top Schloss Hohen Werfen, backdrop to our favourite WWII movie ‘Where Eagles Dare’.

Humming the film’s theme tune (and call-signing each other in a predictable manner) we clambered and pushed the bikes up a narrow cliff path as the funicular lift was closed. As indeed we discovered was the castle. It was Monday, and a ‘rest day’.

Hohenwerfen castle – “Broad Sword calling Danny Boy”

Puffing up the path behind us and carrying shopping was a lovely young German woman who turned out to have been living at the castle for a year as the resident ‘falconnier’ and who loves her job of flying her birds of prey in the daily falconry display – but not today. Ah well.

Hiking up to Schloss Adler

This is one of those wonderful trip moments that will live long in the memory. ‘Where Eagles Dare’ is a terrific piece of cinematography – a film that that we’ve enjoyed so many times, marvelled at the wonderful location, yet never dreamed we would see it.

Until we had met film enthusiast Mark the day before in Berchtesgaden, we’d had no idea of this small Austrian town’s role in Hollywood history.

Much of the film had been shot in Werfen, Elizabeth Taylor had even visited Richard Burton at his hotel here. The town’s railway station doubled as a command post, we walked across the same bridge as Burton and Eastwood – it was all here!

Of course, Hollywood had imagined a few impossible truths (like the cable car that links the castle to the rest of the World, which Mark had warned us had been super-imposed) but otherwise, there it was, the impenetrable ‘Schloss Adler’. Thank you Mark!

Bischofshofen Wasserfall

The following day we cycled in the opposite direction to Bischofshofen to admire the waterfall created by mountain snows tumbling down above the winter ski resort town.

Having done a clothes wash at the camp’s laundry room (the first in a grubby 23 days!) we cycled slowly up an ever inclining path up to the now closed cable car station.

From there we slogged up the mountain bike trail to a rewarding picnic next to the powerful waterfall.

Wash day at last!