Karla Baker is stunned by the beauty of the Black Forest and Rhine Valley during a tour of south-west Germany
Black Forest High Road - Ellbachsee Viewpoint
Renowned for its rich history, culture and diverse landscapes dotted with spellbinding castles, Germany had long been on my partner’s and my wishlist – and this summer provided the perfect opportunity to tick it off.
Having driven along the wide, flat motorways in France, we were struck by how the land grew around us upon entering the southern tip of the Black Forest. Vibrant green mountains were visible in the distance as we approached our first stop, Camping Belchenblick. This leafy campsite has a relaxed feel and is equipped with a heated indoor swimming pool, with guests also benefitting from free access to the large lido next door.
The first thing we noticed as we unhitched the caravan – other than the spectacular views – was the soothing sound of a babbling stream. It flowed past the site and into nearby Staufen, and a level waterside footpath made for a gentle 20-minute stroll into the small town.
If you’re looking for quaint, traditional Germany, Staufen is a good place to start; we wandered around on that sunny afternoon, soaking up the laid-back atmosphere, boutique shops and cafes, and views of the castle ruins perched on the hill.
The following day we headed further afield, a scenic drive taking us to Titisee-Neustadt. This pretty spa town sits on the edge of the largest natural lake in the Black Forest, Lake Titisee. We strolled along the high street, popping into shops that caught our eye – in one, hundreds of cuckoo clocks lined the walls, all intricately crafted and chiming at random intervals. If we didn’t already feel like we were in the heart of Germany, we certainly did then! Perhaps even more so when we ended the evening with a flavoursome currywurst on the glacial lakeside.
To learn more about the region’s past, the next day we visited the Black Forest Open Air Museum. This magical village, complete with a series of traditional houses, gave us a fascinating insight into what rural life was like hundreds of years ago. Although people no longer live under the same roofs as their livestock, other architecture we saw in the area remained largely unchanged; tall, half-hipped roofs still overhang ornate balconies decorated with colourful flower boxes – absolutely beautiful.
Abbey St Hildegard
The Baumwipfelpfad forest path
The Baumwipfelpfad forest path
Black Forest Open Air Museum
The pretty town of Triberg
From the largest natural lake and the oldest houses, we continued our accidental theme of ‘extremes’ in Triberg. The town is home to the world’s largest cuckoo clock and Germany’s highest waterfall! After stopping for the (unofficial) yummiest Black Forest cake, we went in search of Triberg Falls, situated surprisingly close to the town centre. After just a short walk along an asphalt path, we found ourselves surrounded by tall trees in an oasis of calm. It wasn’t long before the greenery parted and we were blown away by the sight of the impressive cascade – all 163 metres of it!
It was time to continue the adventure to our next campsite. We were blessed with crystal-clear skies throughout the journey northwards, interrupted only by the two-metre wingspans of soaring white storks. Kleinenzhof was to be our home for the next few days. This large, family-run campsite is nestled deep in a valley, surrounded by steep hills, dense with the dark pine trees that give the Black Forest its name. To the west sits the lively town of Bad Wildbad. Here, we discovered beautifully manicured gardens, thermal baths, countless cafes and, on the outskirts, the best woodland walk!
‘What makes it the best?’ I hear you ask. Well, in my opinion, Baumwipfelpfad has it all. Its smooth, fully wheelchair-accessible boardwalk begins deep in the forest, enjoying mottled sunshine as it breaks through the beech, fir and spruce. Gradually, it ascends into the canopy, getting you really close to nature. I’ll never forget the moment we spotted a black squirrel perching on a branch, nibbling on some nuts! The path ends with a monumental spiral lookout tower, which stands 40m above the trees. On that beautifully clear day, we could see for miles, with a sea of green laid out beneath us. A unique and unforgettable way to view the forest.
Another spectacular way to view it is by driving the unmissable Black Forest High Road. This sweeping, 40-mile route features a multitude of stop-off points from which to enjoy the landscape. We cruised from north to south, pulling in at the mystical Lake Mummelsee and the Lothar Path regeneration project, before finishing 921m above sea level at the Ellbachsee viewpoint. The views were simply breathtaking. By now, the sun was sinking, casting a warm glow on everything it touched, and it was incredibly peaceful, high above even the birds.
This marked the end of our time in the Black Forest, but our German adventure wasn’t over just yet. Heading northwards, we arrived at the Rüdesheim am Rhein campsite, which came second place in the ‘Accessibility’ category at the 2023 European Campsite Awards run by the Club and Alan Rogers.
Black Forest High Road - Lake Mummelsee
Black Forest High Road - Lothar Path
My expectations were already high – but they were quickly exceeded. Not only is it wonderfully accessible for people with disabilities, but it’s beautifully maintained too, with rose beds and ivy-clad pergolas giving it a fairytale feel. Its location on the banks of the Rhine offers direct access to a smooth towpath, which provides a relaxing walk/cycle directly into town.
Aside from the river, the region is known for its winemaking, so it would have been rude not to enjoy a sample. We ventured up the hill to St Hildegard Abbey, and selected a bottle that had been crafted by the abbey’s friendly Benedictine nuns. We spent the final evening of our trip sipping it in the late sunshine back at the site, overlooking the vineyards in which the grapes had been grown. I couldn’t think of a better way to end such a memorable road trip.
- If Karla has inspired you to visit this region, please visit camc.com/overseas to book the featured campsites.