Into the Southern Black Forest – Simonswald

After three excellent but soggy days we left Oberkirch in bright hot sunshine as the aire cleared to make way for the town’s annual Wine Fest. Workmen strung up coloured lights in the trees overhead as we carried out our usual routine of services getting Bertha ready for the road. Nobody wants to empty the chemical toilet in full view!

It seemed the sunshine had bought everyone out onto the A5 and a short journey took a long time in heavily congested traffic. We were glad to arrive at our campsite in Simonswald, further south in the forest and chosen on the basis of its name!

Spot Bertha in Simonswald Valley

After a cheerful welcome from the owner we strolled down into the pretty village and found market stalls set up selling vegetables and meat. Before shopping we climbed up a track behind the local church to get a bird’s eye view of the village and spot Bertha in the hot sunshine.

Back on the pitch it was time to break out the ‘cadac’ – the trusty gas bbq – and solicit interested stares from other campers. Admittedly it was a little early to eat dinner but the sun was hot and the early evening inviting.

Chef relaxing after cooking a feast

By the time we were washing and packing up several other bbq’s were being lit and the summertime feel of a campsite was in the balmy air.

We spent the next couple of days exploring the valley. A memorable hike saw us take the local bus service high up in the forested hills from where we tramped down alongside a boulder-strewn and fast-flowing stream that cascaded in places like a waterfall.

Climbing up through the forest

Filling up at the fountain

Coming across a cliff-face we followed signs that showed Simonswald to be 15kms away. We hadn’t counted on this being over the top of the Rohrhardsberg, but we didn’t panic.

Duly on the path we toiled back up to 1152 meters along a trail that climbed steeply up the tree-lined slopes. Finally at the top we drank fresh water from the fountain that was outside a welcome guest house, although unfortunately ‘geschlossen’ or closed today.

The steep descent was even more challenging than the climb and it was tough going on the legs.

The path disappeared in places to pitch us down rocky slopes littered with broken branches, slippery stones and exposed tree roots.

In places we were precariously picking our way down the sheer slope of the mountain with nothing to hold on to for balance, and with vertigo-inducing views of the drop just inches from our boots.

Finally back on an asphalt road with aching legs and sore knees we waited in bright hot sunshine for a packed and sweaty bus to return us the final few kms.

Regaling Rudolph the campsite owner with our ramblers’ tale he rewarded us with a glass of local Weiss beer and conversation about village life.

In the next few weeks the herdsmen would bring down the cows from the high pastures and they would process in flowered headdresses through the village to its festival field.

Rudolf told us that everyone, old and young, would celebrate in a huge tent filled with benches for eating at together, and of course drinking. The cows would be in the field around the tent and be part of the festivities. What a delight!