On the train to Schiltach & Alpirsbach

A truly wet night at the Oberkirch aire meant we struggled to sleep through the forecast heavy showers. However we dashed once again to the 9.44 train and collected coffee from the kiosk.

Staying on the train past Gengenbach (where we had visited the day before) we travelled deeper into the forest along the overcast and sodden Kinzig valley.

Fun on the swollen river

At Hausach, unexpectedly, the train terminated and we ran outside the station to squeeze onto a rail replacement bus. Unheard of in our previous rail journeys in Germany!

Standing up and swaying along on the packed bus it was difficult to see any views out of the foggy windows as the bus meandered along the swollen banks of the fast-flowing Kingzigtal.

Other passengers were murmuring about the height and speed of the water and the wild looking river was clearly a matter of comment.


Soggy Schiltach

Gladly we got off at Schiltach which is nestled at the foot of wooded hills.

It’s a pretty half-timbered village with a charming elevated square formed by its rathaus, an historic inn and large patrician houses. Our walking tour in the mizzly rain to the top of the Altstadt offered misty views of the valley as rain water gushed down the cobbled medieval street.

The swollen River Schiltach

Braving another bus we travelled up into the hills around climbing hairpin bends to reach Alpirsbach, one of the most easterly villages in the forest.

It was clear why the trains were not running as gangs of workers toiled at replacing whole sections of track. Initially confused as to why this work would be done in the summer season we then stopped to consider the busier needs of the winter skiing season and the double-life led by these small forest communities.

Alpirsbach was founded around its Klosterbrau brewery, which is still the main business of the day. Bus times didn’t allow a tour of the impressive red sandstone abbey and its cellars but we enjoyed a glass over a simple lunch of local onion soup and wurst in gravy in a rather grand hunting lodge, once frequented by Kaiser Willhelm.

It was remodelled in the 1930s and still had authentic parquet flooring, wooden panelled walls and ceilings, a gigantic curving bar, fluted and mirrored columns and lots of stuffed heads of long-dead dusty animals.

The bus back down the hills was packed this time with students. As the skies had cleared we enjoyed dramatic views along the way commenting again on the size and modernity of the many isolated forest homes.

From Hausach our train slowly wound its way back down the forest and filled up again at the main terminus in Offenburg. Alighting with a host of commuters back at Oberkirch it was interesting to compare their journey with our own daily travel to work. It had been a full day in the forest.