This guide takes the hard work out of planning a holiday cycling up the Rhine, 1100 km (700 miles) from Hook of Holland to Basle in Switzerland. The River Rhine runs from the Swiss Alps to the Dutch sea coast. The tour starts from the Rhine estuary in the Netherlands, twists around, under and over Rotterdam’s bustling harbour to reach the historic city of Dordrecht. The next days are spent crossing peaceful Dutch countryside on Dutch Long Distance Route 12, before climbing, just the once, over a hill in the ...
This guide takes the hard work out of planning a holiday cycling up the Rhine, 1100 km (700 miles) from Hook of Holland to Basle in Switzerland. The River Rhine runs from the Swiss Alps to the Dutch sea coast. The tour starts from the Rhine estuary in the Netherlands, twists around, under and over Rotterdam’s bustling harbour to reach the historic city of Dordrecht. The next days are spent crossing peaceful Dutch countryside on Dutch Long Distance Route 12, before climbing, just the once, over a hill in the Netherlands. Yes, there are hills in that somewhat flat country. Then Germany looms. The way is onwards along the lower Rhine on Rheinradweg/Vélo Rhin Route into North Rhine Westphalia through Kleve, associated with Henry VIII’s Anne of Cleves; through Xanten with its new Roman buildings set in a park; past Duisburg with the biggest inland harbour in Europe; along the elegant promenade in Düsseldorf whose Altstadt has the longest bar in the world; to Cologne and its cathedral to reach Bonn, the former capital village of the Federal Republic of Germany. The route leads into Rhineland Palatinate passing Remagen and the ruins of its famous bridge, through Koblenz with its flower gardens and statue of the Kaiser on a horse at the confluence of the Rhine and the Mosel; through the castle strewn Rhine Gorge where the vintners sometimes need to be roped up to prune the vines, so steep are the vineyards; into Mainz with its cathedral, Gutenberg Museum and Roman ships; along the edge of the gentle hills of Rheinhessen famous for their Riesling wine, to Worms with yet another cathedral, its connections to Martin Luther and the Reformation, its Jewish synagogue and cemetery, through Ludwigshafen past the gleaming spires of BASF; Mannheim where the bicycle and the motor car were invented; to Heidelberg on the Neckar and its ruined castle perched above the narrow streets packed with quaint pubs filled with roistering students and tourists; to Schwetzingen, the summer residence of the ducal family where Mozart was paid to dash off the odd quick ditty for a cocktail party and to Speyer with its cathedral. The route crosses into Alsace, France, without let or hindrance. There’s a chance to see the Maginot Line fortifications in Schoenenbourg near Wissembourg and in Marckolsheim. Farther on the route winds its way through the Rhine meanders to Strasbourg, where Rouget de Lisle wrote the Marseillaise, with its cathedral, European Parliament, half-timbered houses and its German quarter. Our favourite stretch of the route follows: along the level, straight Canal Rhône au Rhin with lime trees shading the towpath, just climbing a few feet by the locks and the keepers’ houses. The route then wanders through quiet, pretty little Alsatian villages to Neuf-Brisach and nearby Breisach in Germany on the right bank of the Rhine. Farther south the route passes Neuenburg set on a hill with its excellent cafés and rejoins the Rhône au Rhin canal to run into Huningue. The route crosses the Rhine for the last time across the longest pedestrians’ and cyclists’ bridge in the world: The Passerelle des Trois Frontières between Huningue and Weil am Rhein. Basel in Switzerland is a few hundred metres away.
The guide advises when to tour, what to do in case of an accident or illness, discusses road safety, suggests local food to eat and public transport back up, what to pack and describes the route in detail when necessary and sketchily when the signposting is good. It offers information on: accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, Youth Hostels and on campsites, on bike shops and on bike hire.
Judith and Neil Forsyth are British, pensioners, keen cyclists and hill walkers. They live in the Rhine Valley near Heidelberg. Judith worked for many years as a teacher in a British high school; was an instructor for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and so was invited to Buckingham Palace, led expeditions to wild and unmapped parts of Norway and sang in a choir that undertook international tours. She came to Germany and then worked as a teacher of English as a foreign language, a university lecturer and a copy editor for a German scientific publisher. Neil worked in the nuclear industry in the UK and Germany, then migrated in his late forties to work in the publishing department of a German learned society. His life was not as adventurous as Judith’s, although he did once sip a pint of bitter standing next to Lord Snowdon, was introduced Mrs. Thatcher and ghost-wrote a speech in English for a provincial president in Germany.
They started writing cycling guide books largely because when Neil came to Germany over 30 years ago, he fell in with a group of cyclists. He started cycling again after a break of about 20 years and enjoyed it. Judith lived in the UK at this time. On hearing that he had taken up this activity, she decided that he had a death wish, but was persuaded to try touring when they finally got married and she came to Germany. Their first major tour on a fairly new seven-gear touring bike (his) and a three-speed mail order clunker (hers) was along the Danube from its source to Vienna. It was exhilarating in spite of dreadful weather at the start and a stomach disorder at the end. They then started to look farther afield and discovered that there were few books in English about cycling in Germany. They also noticed that some of the German cycle guides appear to have been written using a car for major portions of the trip. They thought this was a bit off (more than a bit, actually) and that there was room in the world for cycle guides researched on bicycles. At the time both of them were working in scientific publishing and had found out a bit about book publishing. Over a couple of years they chatted to various souls in the publishing business about a series of cycle touring guides. There was absolutely no interest, so they decided to publish them themselves. They founded Bergstrasse Bike Books.