DAY 15 – With the temperature inside the tent reading 3degrees on my bike computer, and the weather outside the tent looking distinctly grey and misty, it was time to dig out the hats and gloves from the bags as we packed up and ate a quick muesli breakfast. Leaving our campsite on the bank of the river where the Mosel flows into the Rhine, we made our way through the city, stopping to take some photos of the monuments as we passed.
By the time we had cycled through the suburbs and left the city of Koblenz the day began to warm up, and the sun finally broke through and dispersed the mist as we rode south, passing the village of Braubach on the far side of the river.
Our days ride would take us through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2002 for both it landscape and historical significance. This 67km section is known as the most beautiful stretch of the entire 1300km Rhine river, and this soon became apparent as the sun burned away the last of the clouds, exposing the valley and the Medieval castles sat high at the top of the hills, overlooking the river and the quaint villages.
The cycle path closely follows the riverbank, and so too do the road and train tracks on either side of the river. These tracks are heavily used by both passenger and freight trains, which thunder through the valley, shaking the ground as they snake around the bends, leaving the sounds of the engines echoing all around. The river traffic is also quite heavy in this section, as large tourist boats join the industrial barges which move their wares along the river at a steady 10-15km per hour.
Despite the cold morning, we were fortunate with the weather, and couldn’t have picked a better time to cycle here. There were only a few tourists along the route, so there were no crowds, and the leaves on the trees were just starting to change colour with the onset of autumn, giving the valley a burst of yellow and orange that can only be seen at this time of year.
We rode all afternoon, passing many castles, small villages and outstanding landscapes, before we stopped in the village of Bacharach, and set up camp in the only campsite in town, right on the bank of the river. We arrived just as the sun was setting over the valley, and I don’t suppose we’ll have many more picturesque campsite locations on this trip.
A pasta dinner, followed by a quick beer in the campsite bar ended the most picturesque day of the trip so far.