A Walking Tour In The Eifel And Moselle Districts
( Originally Published 1921 )
SEVEN years later, Mr. J. L. Roget, who in the meantime had completed his studies at Cambridge and was now following the profession of the law at Lincoln's Inn, took a short trip on the Continent, of which he has left a detailed account. This time the circumstances were somewhat different, as this was principally a walking tour with two friends, and it embraced some less well-known districts in the regions of the volcanic hills of the Eifel and the banks of the River Moselle. We are fortunate to be able to illustrate the account with examples of Mr. Roget's skill as an artist by reproducing a few sketches from his ever-ready pen and pencil.
As in 1844, the crossing was made from London to Antwerp, starting on August 30th. As to the journey out, Mr. Roget writes : " We had a very tolerable passage from London, but the late stormy weather left an unpleasant swell behind, which made me a little seasick in the evening. We soon gave up our intention of crossing in the fore-cabin. I passed the night on deck, where we stretched mattresses, and with the aid of my rug and a thick cloak, borrowed from a friend, managed to keep myself warm, and to sleep comfortably until suddenly awakened by a brilliant rocket sent up close to my ear as a sign for a pilot to take us up the Scheldt. Towards morning the weather became colder and the sky overcast, and when we reached Antwerp the rain was descending very steadily." During a look round the town the trio visited the museum, which, he says, we ought certainly to have visited in our tour of 1844. The Rubenses are magnificent.
A great number of bearded little artists, in blue frocks and dirty linen, were standing on steps and copying the finest pictures. We walked through the beautiful Bourse, which was just then crowded with merchants coming on 'change. Our strange appearance in odd-looking caps and wet coats dripping about the cloisters seemed to attract the attention of the honest men of the commercial interest. . . . We again started, knapsacks in hand, to the railway station, where we arrived long before the train started, as we had allowed time for losing our way. We accordingly seated ourselves in the third-class waiting-room, which room became filled with Belgian soldiers, who seemed as boyish in their manners as in their appearance. One, who was in a somewhat ` glorious ' state, entertained the company with theatrical recitations and French revolutionary songs (so far as we could make out). The train started, and we whirled along, packed pretty tightly with our noisy little warriors, who, however, left us at Malines, before which the vinous (or perhaps beery) youth had roared himself to sleep." There is no need to dwell upon the halt at Brussels nor the railway journey on to Liège, where the little party proceeded another five miles in the train to Chaudfontaine, where they spent the night of September 2nd. It had originally been intended to walk to Chaudfontaine from Liège, but this was prevented by rain.
On the following day they " left Chaudfontaine in the rain at seven, and travelled by railway to Pepinster, whence an omnibus took us through a succession of very pretty valleys and some picturesque villages to Spa,' where we break-fasted. We set off with our knapsacks on our backs for Malmedy. The road ascends for four miles and crosses a large moor, from which, how-ever, is an extensive panorama, very like those from the high ground in Devonshire, the views being coloured by patches of sunshine in many places. On crossing the Prussian frontier we asked whether our luggage was to be ` visited,' but were told that the authorities at Malmedy Spa became famous later on as the German headquarters during part of the Great War and the scene of various Conferences afterwards would see to that. No one, however, did ask for either passport or baggage, which was rather extraordinary. Malmedy [see Fig. 12] is a picturesque town, famous for shoeleather and smelling of tanpits. It is prettily situated amongst green valleys, and the clean, well-appointed houses of the tanners give a lively appearance to the suburbs. The inhabitants seem very civil people, and the children are charming." On account of the bad weather the continuation of the journey to Hillesheim was made " cooped up in the Schnellpost," through Butgenbach, Losheim and Stadt Kyll.
" The diligence was comfortable enough, being much more roomy than the English stage-coaches, the chief difference consisting in the atmosphere in the former being somewhat thick with tobacco smoke, in consequence of the number of pipes usually at work therein. There was but little to see on the road, the country being very dreary nearly the whole way. It is by no means unpleasant to be entirely out of the beaten track of the English travellers. Our fellow-passengers and guests at the inns seem to be chiefly German bagmen. . .
[Sept. 5th.]-At length we have been favoured with a tolerably fine day, and have taken advantage of it by walking from Hillesheim to Gerolstein. Not being pressed for time, we halted occasionally and made use of our sketchbooks, some of the results of which halts I hope to convey home some fine day.
Our road led us through several small villages ; near one of them is a fine old ruined castle called Casselberg. It is remarkably picturesque, with a fine tall keep, and skirted by graceful foliage. In the courtyard and ruined banqueting-hall are plenty of shrubs and bright little wildflowers. One great charm is the absence of guides and commissionnaires and traces of English tourists. In one of the outworks we started a couple of owls. A number of hawks has been hovering over our heads during the day. We are now in the heart of the country, amongst the German peasantry, and a remarkably civil and intelligent set they turn out to be. They seem very industrious, and their fields often bear a thoroughly English aspect.
Gerolstein, little more than a village, is situated on the side of a steep hill, crowned with an attenuated ruin. On the opposite side of the valley is a rather remarkable hill, on the brow of which are some bold volcanic pieces of rock, and on the summit is a dry crater surrounded by lava. In a well close to the River Kyll (a tributary of the Moselle) is a constant supply of mineral water, which comes bubbling from I know not where and affords a most deliciously cool and refreshing draught, superior to anything which Messrs. Schweppe & Co. ever manufactured. There are many little customs here which cannot but delight a lover of the picturesque. The carts and agricultural machines drawn by oxen, the herds of goats and cows driven through the streets, the large long baskets carried on the backs of the women [see Fig. 13], their fashion of tying a clean white handkerchief over the head, etc.
We left Gerolstein on foot. Our road led us through Pelm, a village near the Casselberg mentioned above, and then, turning to the right, crossed some dreary country to Kirchweiler. For a considerable way we followed two parties of pilgrims, one consisting of about twenty women and the other of rather more, each being headed by one or two men. The women were arranged in two columns, and marched side by side repeating rosaries. Their appearance, with clean white handkerchiefs over their heads and brightly coloured ones round their necks, and their gowns pinned up round their waists, each carrying a basket or bundle, and all umbrellas, was highly picturesque.
From Kirchweiler we proceeded to Hintersweiler, and thence to Dochweiler, and made our way by a road through a park-like Wald or forest to Daun, a prettily situated place with a sort of château occupying the site of an ancient castle. Here we took a butterbrod, and then, guided by an intelligent lad, pursued our way down a pretty Devonshire-like valley, and up a steep path to three very remarkable crater-lakes or maars. The first, the Gemunden maar, is surrounded by brushwood ; the second, which is the highest, the Wehnwelter Maar, is very dreary. One little church (only used for funerals) is perched on one side of the ,rim. Numerous shrines and crosses marking the spots where people have been lost in the snow are to be seen on the road. The road passes between this maar and the Schalkenmeere Maar, lying at a lower level with the village of Schalkenmeere on its bank, and then crosses a good deal of high tableland. We reached Brocksheid, and a young man accompanied us for some distance into a wood and pointed out our path. He was a good specimen of an intelligent peasant, but laboured under the common German delusion that there were no mountains in England. We offered him a trinkgeld, but it was with great difficulty that we could persuade him to take it. Emerging from the Wald, we came to the villages of Eckfeld and Buckholtz, and down through a beautiful wood to lower Manderscheid.
I was totally unprepared for the extraordinary beauty of this place. The River Leiser makes two or three elaborate bends at the bottom of a richly wooded valley, and encloses within one of its windings a fine bold rock, upon which is perched a highly picturesque ruin of a castle, with a group of still more picturesque cottages at the base. On the opposite side is a steep road leading to Manderscheid itself ; this we ascended, and presented ourselves at the door of the inn, opposite the Post Expedition and kept by Herr Pantenburg.
The landlord, an oldish man, with his hands in his pockets, received us in a fatherly manner and told us that we should have our supper very soon. [This gentleman's portrait is given in Fig. 15.] We employed ourselves meanwhile in making our notes and finishing our sketches, while Herr P. sat on the sofa and watched us until he fell asleep. He slept some time, but at length woke up, apparently hungry, for he began to bustle about, and in a short time our supper appeared, and Herr Pantenburg joined us in our repast, as well as a man who appeared to be the waiter and boots, etc., and a pleasant kind of traveller, I suppose a bagman. The supper turned out to be excellent—a dish of delicious trout, followed by sauerbraten (meat steeped in vinegar), peas, salad, etc. We did ample justice to this meal, but being somewhat cold after it, M. asked Frau Pantenburg, who waited upon us, whether there was any punch to be had. The good lady, who had naturally a very forbidding aspect, seemed to consider the question as an insult, and repelled it with some asperity. Next morning our friend the bagman (I suppose he was a bagman—he called himself a merchant) informed us that we were in the good graces of Herr Pantenburg. It appears that he had said that we were ` good boys,' but that all the other English were ` naughty boys.' After breakfast we went down into the ravine, explored the castle, made one or two sketches, and bathed in the river.
We then bid an affectionate farewell to Herr Pantenburg.
[Sept. 8th.]-We walked as far as Wittlich. A guide from Manderscheid conducted us during the first half of our day's journey, as we were anxious to visit on our road some curious extinct volcanoes. The first, called the Meerfeld, is very large, and contains in one part a maar or crater. lake. The path to this crater lies through a pretty wooded valley, which was rendered the more interesting by groups of peasants scattered among the trees enjoying their fine Sunday afternoon. Leaving the Meerfelder Maar, we ascended the Mosenkopf, an old volcano with. a very perfect crater, now filled with bog earth (peat), which is collected for fuel, as in Ireland. Our guide was very communicative, and who acted as our interpreter, extracted from him a good deal of local information. The peasants in that part, he told us, live almost entirely on potatoes. They eat meat once a year only, but then they devour as much as they can. He told us that not long ago two wagons full of arms presented themselves at Herr Pantenburg's door to invite the people to rise, but the people would not. He said he thought that if they had done so they would have obtained plenty of money. In the midst of a beautiful forest our guide left us, having pointed out the way, and we soon emerged from the wood, and walking through the villages of Grosslitgen and Minderlitgen, we came down by a winding road into the plain in which Wittlich is situated, leaving behind us the round isolated hills of the Eifel, and having in view before us the long range of the high banks of the Moselle. Wittlich is the largest place we have visited since we left Malmedy. It is a picturesque and dirty town, but presents little to interest the traveller. [A view of the Wolf Inn, where the party stayed, is given in Fig. 17.]
The next morning we again loaded ourselves with our packs and set forth southwards. We followed the course of the Leiser until it reaches the Moselle, two or three miles above Berncastel. The Moselle is here confined between sloping banks covered with vineyards. We followed the road along the left bank until opposite Berncastel, a picturesque row of houses, with a brown church-tower in the middle, and, of course, a ruined castle on the height [Fig. 18]. From this point to Trabach the river makes a bend of fifteen miles, but a steep path across a narrow neck of land conducted us there by a short-cut of three miles. On the way we were joined by a quaint little German [Fig. 16], who was on his way to London to see the Exhibition.' Trabach being a most filthy town, though highly picturesque, we preferred putting up at Traben, on the left side of the river.
[Sept. 9th.]--We followed the river as far as Reil, and a little beyond struck up a very steep path through the vineyards, and crossed the narrow neck of land to Alf. Here we left our packs and returned to a point of view called the Prinzen Kopfchen, near the castle, or rather the fortified nunnery, of Marienburg, whence a fine view of the whole bend of the river is obtained. Returning to Alf, we took our butterbrod and half-bottle of Moselle wine, and then, crossing the ferry, pursued our way through a beautiful wooded valley to Senheim. At Senholtz, on the opposite bank of the river, we had intended to sleep, but as we had still several hours of daylight, we determined to push on to Beilstein. Arriving at Beilstein, we found it more picturesque and dirty than usual, but there was no appearance of an inn. So we pushed on again to Ellenz, a little village on the left bank, and were there pointed out a little den of dirt, which they told us was the gasthof. This rather disconcerted us, and we determined to march on for two stunden (two hours' walk) to Cochem. We were rather tired, but the walk turned out to be agreeable enough, as the river improved here in beauty. We reached the place in a brilliant moonlight. This is the most beautiful spot on the Moselle that we have seen yet. There is a great sameness in the scenery of this river. The high, sloping banks are generally covered with vineyards from top to bottom, and the towns are generally situated on a little ledge close to the river. Imagine a row or two of highly picturesque old houses, with a pyramidal church-tower, a few filthy narrow streets, and an archway leading out to the ferry across the river, then place a tower and a few ragged walls upon an eminence overlooking the houses, and you have a fair idea of the towns on the Moselle.
[Sept. 10th.]-Today, having paused for a while to sketch the town and castle of Cochem [Fig. 19], we followed the course of the river, which still bears the same character as heretofore, to Carden, a small town on the left bank below Treis. Leaving our humps at the little inn at Treis, we walked up a stony path and through a wood on to a very pretty valley, in which is situated the romantic castle of Elz, which is still in a great measure in its original state. After wandering round and round the castle and fording and crossing a stream two or three times, we found the path, which ascended, and made our way under an old bridge, and then over it, and through a dark archway or two, into a strange little courtyard surrounded by high buildings and turrets. As soon as we entered it, two or three large dogs rushed forth and commenced barking furiously at us. As they presented a formidable front, we hesitated to advance, but after a time, plucking up courage, we advanced towards the door, and my trusty `Schlappie ' managed to keep the dogs at bay until the portal was opened by a fat, surly-looking man, who pointed out another door by which we were to enter to see the apartments. Here a sour little woman showed us through two or three ordinary looking rooms, with a little bit of tapestry and two or three suits of rusty armour, and then turned us out again amongst the dogs ; but " being now accustomed to their barking, I brandished Schlappie, and they turned tail. We retraced our steps with some difficulty, in consequence of the darkness, but finally with success. Here (Carden) we have met with the first English-man we have seen since leaving Brussels.
[Sept. 11th.]-Today we were obliged to make another forced march. After breakfast we set off along the left bank of the river, and passing Müden and Moselkern, crossed the ferry at Brodenbach and, leaving our humps at the gasthaus, walked up a valley to the castle of Ehrenbach, a picturesque ruin. Taking our midday butterbrod, we again set for that a good brisk pace along the right bank, hoping to reach Cobern in time for the steamer to Coblenz. There is a curious old round chapel on a height above Cobern, said to have been built by the Crusaders in the thirteenth century. We made an excursion up the hill to see this, and enjoyed a beautiful prospect therefrom, with the additional pleasure of seeing our steamer quietly sailing down the stream with its stern pointed towards Cobern. There was nothing for it but to walk on. So we crossed the ferry once more and followed the right bank of the river. The hills gradually become lower and the scenery/ less romantic at this part of the Moselle. At length our road turned off to the right, and passing through a dirty village in the dark, among harnessed oxen and bad smells and barking dogs, we emerged upon a broad road between rows of trees, and after a somewhat dreary walk we came upon a public garden outside the walls of Coblentz, just as the moon rose on our right. Passing the drawbridge and great gate of the town, we entered a large open platz planted with trees, and asking our way to the Hôtel Belle Vue, a gentleman very kindly accompanied us there through some rather fine streets. We entered the hall amongst bowing kellners and clean napkins, dusty, rough-looking travellers as we were, and were lighted by bougies up an interminable staircase into clean bedrooms overlooking the Rhine, where we soon were relieved of, our humps, and made ourselves look as respectable as we could before appearing in the salle à manger. It seems quite new to us to wander about in shirts and collars among ladies and gentlemen. I scarcely know how to behave myself. There is a degree of comfort about it, nevertheless. Had we arrived here by daylight we should probably have put up at some modest little pothouse instead of this grand hotel. Having now accomplished the first part of our journey, we are giving ourselves half a day's rest to look back upon the pleasant time we have spent, to calculate our past expenses, and to lay our plans for the future. We have hitherto lived at the average rate of between six and seven shillings a day."
On the following day the trio walked on, in the afternoon, up the Rhine to Braubach, where they put up at an old inn which had formerly been a château, and inspected the castle of Marks-burg, then " inhabited by a garrison of Nassau troops." The next resting-place was Mayence, which was reached by steamer.
"After attending mass at Mayence (I have not become a Catholic), and walking about the town for a little, looking at Thorwaldsen's statue of Gutenberg and at the Prussian and Austrian soldiers strolling about the streets (there is always a regiment of each army at Mayence [see Fig. 20], and of course great rivalry is displayed between them), we walked across the bridge and took our railway tickets for Frankfurt. There being four classes on this railway, we chose the third, but found it rather too respectable, not to say aristocratic, the seats being cushioned and the company of a high order. At Frankfurt, leaving our knapsacks at the railway station, we took a walk round the town. I was a little surprised at seeing nearly all the shops closed? Frankfurt contains a fine street and some handsome buildings. The older part of the city, however, is dirty and wretched enough. One street is particularly interesting, as being inhabited entirely by Jews, of whom there are great numbers in Frankfurt. The more wealthy now live in other parts of the city, but formerly all the Israelites were confined to that one quarter, and were subject to several strict and tyrannical laws. It is curious to see the walls hung with advertisements in Hebrew. Returning to the railway, we again set off for Heidelberg by the third class. (On this line the fourth class provides no seats.)"
There is no need to dwell upon the brief sojourn at Heidelberg, the beauties of which have already been referred to in these pages. From Heidelberg the train was taken to Mannheim, whence the steamer took the travellers via Bingen to Brohi, a little village on the left bank of the Rhine, a few miles below Andernach. From Bingen, the cabin of the steamer was filled with Nassau soldiers, apparently going home on leave, fine, active-looking fellows some of them, and more like English soldiers than any I have seen." Part of the next day was spent in exploring the valley of Brohl, including the " singular lake of Laach. It is nearly circular, and the sloping sides, covered with fine trees, have a pleasing effect ; but the most interesting object is the old Benedictine convent. The valley contains some curious quarries in the form of caves." After this diversion, the steamer was resumed to Remagen in order to explore another side valley, that of the Ahr. Most of the next day was accordingly spent in walking along by the windings of that river to Altenahr. " We have seen nothing," the account continues, " to be compared with the romantic situation of Altenahr. Lying in a deep hollow amidst precipitous walls of basaltic rock, a castle perched on one of them, and vineyards or rich foliage covering the sides of others, it presents a scene of surprising beauty.
A long procession of pilgrims from the neighbourhood of Bonn has just passed through the town on their way to Trèves. They were headed by a boy with a scarlet banner surmounted by a cross. He was followed by two long rows of women with white napkins over their heads, and either rosaries or hymn-books in their hands. Two rows of men in blouses succeeded, some with books and others with umbrellas, and two wagons with white covers containing baskets, probably of provisions."
The return to Remagen was made on foot, where the steamer was boarded from an open boat (in the rain). " There appears to be," he writes, " a stream of Englishmen setting towards home. The steamer to-day contained a great many passengers, evidently on their return from Switzerland, as one could see by their alpenstocks and boxes of chalets, which they were bearing along in triumph." After a brief halt at Bonn, the train was taken on to Cologne, where the following report is made of the cathedral: The works have been steadily proceeding since we saw it (in 1844), but there is still to be completed about one-third in height of the nave and transept, two-thirds of one tower, and I think the whole of the other."
" On Tuesday, rising before daylight, we em-barked by railway for Malines, where we arrived by a very long train at about four o'clock ; being near the end of the train, we were shaken a good deal and nearly smothered with dust. The reason of so great a number of travellers is the fêtes which were being celebrated at all the Belgian towns in honour of the Revolution. We had our knapsacks slightly examined at Verviers, but our passports were not demanded." On the following day the railway journey was continued to Ostend, with halts of a few hours at Ghent and Bruges.
" At Ostend we walked straight on board the steamer, the Panther, a very good boat, in which the passengers were fast assembling. The evening was foggy and the decks quite wet, so we were all huddled together in the cabin until such time as shelves and mattresses could be arranged for our accommodation. We may consider ourselves lucky in being permitted to stow ourselves away along a high ledge in the stern of the ship, whence we had a bird's-eye view of the floor covered with mattresses, and with booted and mustachioed foreigners snoring under tables and chairs in uncomfortable attitudes. At two we started, and in my dreams I heard many footsteps and voices, and knockings and creakings above my head, but after a time I slept soundly, and did not turn out till we were off Margate. We had a beautiful passage, the sea like a mill-pond, and it entered not into the stomach of man, or even of woman, to be sick. The noises I heard overhead have been since explained. The weather being very thick, the Triton, a steamer belonging to the same company as ours, had run into the pier and stove in two planks, and we were making exertions to tow her off without success. Our tow-rope broke and we left her to her fate. We sailed up the Thames without adventure, excepting a good substantial breakfast, until off Blackwall. There something wrong happened to the engine, which delayed us again. However, it was soon mended, and we arrived at St. Catherine's Wharf about one o'clock. Here our luggage was examined, and as we had only one pack apiece we were taken in the first batch and let off easily, though I cannot say much in favour of the arrangements for the comfort of travellers generally. After having been kept waiting for a long time, standing in a species of dog-holes, they are scarcely treated with civility by the officials, and are then charged sixpence for every package they possess. We walked to London Bridge, and then, after a lift in an omnibus, walked to our respective homes."