by a humble hiker
The morning mist lifted. A single blackbird was audible in the spruce copse behind us. And at our feet we saw things I had never met in the great outdoors before, and certainly not in the one spot: a giant ant hill and a circle of bright red toadstools with their ominous white spots.
I had agreed to a day’s hiking in the mountains south of Kreuth. And already the effort of getting out and about in the early morning hours was paying off. Two local women, Ursula and Helga, had agreed to show me around. And although I am far from fit, it turned out a perfect day of modest exercise and plenty of discoveries. We set out from amongst the Bavarian farm houses of Kreuth with their bright red shingled roofs and vast wooden balconies, whilst morning mists were still lifting from the wooded hills. A little later, we were passing small gurgling streams and an incredible abundance of mushrooms, which had sprung up after a few rainy days.
We stocked up on water at one of those crystal-clear streams. Being used to bottled water, this was another revelation to me: the Kreuth mountain water is the best I have ever tasted, and it’s free! By the time we came across the ant hill and poisonous mushrooms (called ‘Fliegenpilz’ because apparently they make you feel like you can ‘fly’), the clouds cleared off, and the day heated up rapidly. The uphill treck was not too steep, but I was happy to rest for a while in the shade of a traditional ‘Alm’. This is a mountain log cabin with a flat roof held down by rocks. The ding dong of cow bells rattled the air, a few sturdy work horses nibbled on the lush grass, and we definitely saw a couple of birds of prey, maybe buzzards, circle above the tall firs and pine trees. Onwards on narrow winding paths, we made it to the top, whilst Ursula pointed out various curative herbs and Helga shared her wisdom on the flint, limestone and quarz found in Alpine rock faces.
At the mountain peak we were greeted by a great commotion: a herd of cows were hovering around the summit cross as well as a pipe-smoking mountaineer with two giant Dobermans. The view was – stunning. Lake Tegernsee pale blue in the distance. An embrace of sharp peaks and gentle hills. The widest sky. And behind us, the Austrian Alps as far as the eye could see. I loved my sumptuous luncheon of Tyrolean smoked sausages and pretzels – and found it hard to believe how much faster we made our way down again. I definitely caught the hiking bug that day and really hope to spend more time in the Kreuth wonderland. Hope to see you there!
A few steps uphill from the Tegernsee Town train station, numerous hiking trails branch off into the surrounding hills and mountains. You can take it easy and saunter along the stroller-friendly ‘Höhenweg’ to Gmund – or push yourself that bit more and make the hike up to the Neureuth Mountain Inn. Whether you opt for the broad gravel path or the narrow and winding hiking trail, they will both lead you through an unspoilt mixed forest of spruce and beech, as magical in its green summer dress as it is on a sunny winter day when the world is clad in white. All paths are well tended and sign-posted, and within an hour’s time, even the least hardy mountaineers should be able to reach the top. There, a spacious mountain hut commands breathtaking views over the valley and serves hearty Alpine specialties from sausages with sauerkraut to goulash soup and a selection of divine homemade cakes.
Those setting out late in the day might need to bring along a torch and warm clothing as Alpine nights get very cold very quickly. The Neureuth Mountain Inn is closed on Mondays.
More information and table bookings at: +49 (0) 8022 - 4408