May – the month of the long weekends in Europe! We have four days off during the Ascension weekend and I hit the trail together with Elien for a last hike before the big deal. Our destination is the ‘Little Switzerland’ area in the Grand Douchy de Luxembourg, a 5 hours train journey from home. The term ‘Little Switzerland’ was invented in the early 20th century to promote tourism in the region – the landscape has very little to do with the mighty Alps. In this area, lush beech forest and towering Jurassic sandstone formations attract walkers from Belgium, Holland and Germany. Funny enough, Joery also published a blogpost blogpost about a walk in the area just a week ago.
We start on thursday afternoon in the town of Mersch and quickly climb out of the village. On our first day, we walk a connection trail to the ‘Mullerthal trail’, a 110km waymarked tour along the highlights of the region. After a warming up of two hours, we zigzag through the Noumerleen sandstone formations and rock corridors, a nice preview of what to expect during the coming days. We find a nice bivouac spot in a field near the Meysembourg castle.
Slight rain ticks on the flysheet of the tent most of the night, but the morning brings glorious sunshine again. Our second day is presumably the least interesting of the trip. The trail mostly follows forest lanes and field roads, but also contains some nice sections through narrow valleys like the Gluedbaach and Ernz Noire valleys. In the late afternoon we reach the Schiessentumpel waterfall, presumably the most photographed piece of nature in Luxembourg. And yep, after not encountering any hikers the entire day this spot is pretty crowded. I cannot even take a picture of the nice waterfall and the old bridge without any people on it.
The trail nows steeply climbs through the beech forest up to the valley flanks and we enter a fairytale world of towering sandstone formations and rock labyrinths. Wood mice contantly rustle through the litter at the forest floor as we pass by. We continue for half an hour, then leave the path and steeply climb through the forest out of the valley to find another nice bivouac spot in a field NE of the hamlet of Breidweiler.
The next morning, blackbird morning songs guide us through the wonderful Goldkaul and down to the Constrefer watermill. A bit further, the path suddenly enters a very narrow rock corridor. This is the famous Rittergang, the most spectacular section of the Mullerthal trail. We have to push our backpacks in front of us because it gets too narrow, and even need our headlights for a pitch dark section! Another splendid corridor, the Déwepëtz, follows shortly after. Then the paths climbs up to the plateaus, winds it way towards Scheidgen, and descends all the way to Echternach through the pretty Deisterbaach valley. It’s already late afternoon and still a long way towards the next bivouac locations far enough from civilization, so we stay at a local camping for the night and a shower.
On the last day a long staircase leads us back to the trail. We immediately enter the Wolfsschlucht, perhaps the most famous of the rock corridors in Little Switzerland (although this is mainly due to its proximity to the touristic village of Echternach). A pretty section upstream along the Aesbach leads us to the Houllay caves, where smoke below the vault of the cave indicates someone has camped here last night.
The path steeply climbs towards the village of Berdorf, where we fill our water bottles again at the camping. The trail quickly plunges back down into the beech forest and the last fine rock corridors and ravines rapidly succeed each other. When we round the trail near the Schiessentumpel waterfall, we climb towards the village of Consdorf the catch a bus back home. A nice region to visit!