Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Friday, 13 July 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 12 - Weißenstein (1527m) to Bolzano (262m)

Yesterday, after our late afternoon descent through woods laden with black squirrels, buzzards, nutcrackers, chaffinches and other bird species we couldn't identify, we wandered into the welcoming arms of the Weißenstein sanctuary. And how pleased we were to have decided to wing it instead of staying at Fontanefredde. We spent the evening in the company of Bruno, a dignified priest from Udine, and with Tony and Mariuccia, from Bergamo. For the second day running, we spent the evening with someone who had spent time in Chester. Tony had taught English to Italians there at a summer school. We enjoyed a long chat with him which we continued this morning. Hello Tony and Mariuccia, and for good measure you are pictured above with us in front of the immaculate Baroque-style church.

After the excitement of the photo shoot with T and M we had a look around the sanctuary, which apart from the church, with its huge collection of ex votos (offerings made in fulfilment of vows), has the hotel, with views east to major Dolomitic peaks and west to even higher snow-clad Alpine summits, a youth hostel, a cultural centre and a congress hall.

By 9.30 we were on our way again, on the short last lap of this stage of our walk. A pleasant stroll through fairly open woodland took us down the Forstweg Alte Säge, a pilgrims' route past the Twelve Stations of the Cross, unassuming shrines that lead up to the sanctuary.

Today we started for the first time on the second side of our now well worn Kompass 121 strip map. This second side will take us to beyond Solden, so whatever reservations we may have about the dated nature of the paths marked on the map, we certainly can't complain about the weight - and we have no maps to send home at this stage of the trip.

Easy paths through woodland steaming on the clear day with Dolomitic views then led past fifteen mountain bikers having a morning chat and around the head of a valley, to the sprawling village named after its seventh century Bavarian tribal settlers - Nova Ponente, or Deutschnofen (we are now in dual language territory). It was a lovely sunny day with temperatures in the low 20sC. Ideal for walking, and also for sitting outside a café with caffe macchiato and Mohnstrudel, a local delicacy - poppy seed pastry (pictured).

It's on these occasions that Gillian's guide book is at its most useful. Anyone can walk the E5 armed with the 1:50,000 scale strip maps and a compass, simply by following the waymarks, but the research into local history and culture carried out by Gillian and conveyed in her writing couldn't all be picked up by casual walkers of the route like us. Thanks again, Gillian, and we hope you don't mind a selection of the fruits of your labour being reiterated on these pages. So, thanks to our guide book we had been able today to plan an 11.00am elevenses at a place where we could sample a local delicacy.

Luckily, route finding for the rest of the day was simple in our south to north direction thanks to the copious waymarking, as I'd somehow contrived to lose the compass we use when waymarks are sparse or uncertain. [I think Josh said he got a little misplaced coming north to south, so it may not be quite so easy in that direction, but it may be that having started from Bolzano he just took a little while to get into his rhythm. It was good to hear from him today.]

After Nova Ponente we continued amiably past a children's camp ground, following The Path of the Legends, one of which we may recount later. The terrain was to a large extent more of the same, as pictured in the previous posting, but with frequent fine mountain views to treat us in between the welcome shade of the woodland sections.

All too soon, at 2.30pm, we reached the Colle/Kohlern cable-car station at 1135 metres. The brainchild of a local hotelier, this cable-car dates back to 1908 and was the first such system in the whole of the Alps, though nowadays the original double-tiered bench system has been superseded by a conventional cabin. As such, we felt bound to use this ancient form of transport to perform our 'landing' in Bolzano, especially as the E5 route takes this 'path'!

But not before cold drinks at the café and a visit to the nearby huge wooden watchtower, which sadly was locked, preventing access to its expansive views over the Bozen basin and its surrounding attractions and peaks.

At 30C, the 3km walk across Bolzano to our comfortable hotel was a slow affair. I'll be pleased to give the 15kg load a little rest in a wardrobe and enjoy the pleasures of Bolzano without the encumbrance of its company for a couple of days. Not that I mind carrying it. After this short break I'll be raring to go again on Sunday morning, when the initial straight line of the E5 route looks very appealing!

After enjoying a rare visit to the Tour de France on TV, we popped round the corner for an excellent pizza.

Then we 'crashed out'.


Patrick - thanks for the path advice, but we decided to avoid the heat of path 4 and take the cable-car, which after all is the route taken by E5!

Josh - it was great to hear from you. We were delighted to see that you made better use of Fabrizio's hospitality than we were able to...

Nick - thanks for the Constance info, and good luck with the move (keep cool, Daniella!).

Ethan - good to hear from you. Good luck with any exams you may have, and I hope you have an interesting summer planned.

12 July 2012
17km in 5 hours with 400m ascent, plus 10 minute cable-car to Bolzano from Colle (1100m), and then 3km+ walking around in Bolzano
Cumulative on E5: 223km with 11,200m ascent
Other E5 walkers - none in evidence
Flower of the Day - Grass of Parnassus

Itinerary -

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