Is there an upside to being landlocked ? Everybody loves the sea, right? Gazing at its enormity, being in or on it; it is where we originate, after all, even us in here Luxembourg. In his manifesto for bringing adventure close to home Alastair Humphreys suggests starting at the highest local point and descending to the sea, by foot or by bike (or by raft!).
Here is one advantage of being landlocked; we have two clearly defined points to make an arbitrary adventure:- the highest to the lowest points in the country. And thus I set out to cycle this long gradual downhill.
Conveniently the highest point is situated, unsurprisingly, in the far north of the country. This adventure therefore started with a lovely hour-long trip by train, the countryside becoming ever more beautiful as we passed Miersch (Mersch) and head deep into Éislek, the northern half of the country.
Alighting at the final station in the Grand Duchy the air was clean and fresh and off I set, immediately hitting a typical Ardennes hard short climb. This took me over a tunnel housing the railway as it snakes away towards Belgium, eventually reaching Léck, better known by its French name Liège, maybe. Round and round over some little bridges, in and out, and the route finally joins a lovely old train path the Vennbahn. I ride only a few kilometres of this, but it is a wonderful 125km long track which is highly recommended.
Sadly I must soon leave it at the Buurgplaatz, erroneously considered the high point of Luxembourg. In fact a nearby location is a full 1 metre higher; this is The Kneiff. I prepare myself for the climb. In fact it’s a miserable three or four hundred metres on the National Route 7, clearly news of the 1.5 metre passing law still hasn’t reached this far north yet, cars so close I could touch them all. This is really the only uncomfortable road of this entire ride, and it is really very short. Finally I turn onto the unmarked farm track while a few spots of rain patterned the muddy path and as I achieve the ‘summit’, and think I should don my rain jacket.
As far as peaks are concerned this is definitely more at the Imperceptible Crest of a Hill end of things rather than the Sweeping Majesty, but I enjoyed the initial freewheel away as the rain picked up. Heading due south on cycle ways and minor roads as thunder rumbled and threatened all around.
Up and down over this beautiful rolling countryside I found myself following a signed bicycle route named “Panorama”, and if the little section I followed was typical then this too was worth another trip. There are several nice little routes up here; I later found myself on another, called “Jardins”.
The weather had cleared as I was heading towards the river near Vianden, it was all so glorious here, well worth the effort, and I certainly did not mind the odd wrong turn I took, some of the signposting far from perfect. After Vianden you join the Three Rivers Cycle route, the first shortish section is not ideal, being on a main road, but soon afterwards, and for miles upon miles it is just fabulous.
The Our and Sauer (Sure) Rivers are beautiful and full of bird life. I saw also many campers happily playing on inflatables in the river and eventually steamed into Waasserbëlleg whilst the summer’s evening was deeply golden. I paused at Op de Spatz and unlike the understated white stone at the Kneiff, here there is a sign proudly displaying the altitude of just 132 metres above sea level. I dipped my hands in the exact point the Sauer meets the Musel (Moselle) and my 100km long, 423 metre descent was complete.
I can fully recommend this ride, and you can of course choose your own route, maybe Cycle Travel can help you plan. Also use the CFL website to find trains to and from Troisverges and Wasserbilllig. Bikes have always been free on these, and soon people will be too.
Do you have any ideas for arbitrary points to join by bike in the Grand Duchy? What ‘adventures’ have you found along the way? Why not share them with us below?