There's something about walking through forest anywhere. For me, it's a pleasure. There's life, or not in some cases, and everywhere the landscape is changing constantly. The next visit to a place is never the same.
I took all these shots just of the trail scenes as I walked along, here a moss laden rock, there a carpet of leaf litter, somewhere else bountiful new tree growth.
Soon after the trail started to descend. Not with the rapidity of the Schmilke ascent but a steady incline as I neared Bad Schandau. When I came to the sealed road it was right next to a bus stop so obviously that might be an option for some.
From memory it was still about 2 kms back to base but, what did I care?
It's all so pleasureable. Hope you enjoy.
It was a sandstone fantasy land. Rounded crags appeared everywhere. Around every corner a new vista would unfold, each as impressive as the last.
At one stage I clambered up on one of the smaller rocks and gazed across to another big lump (pic 5). I was amazed when I saw people walking around it on a made walkway.
Sadly, time didn't allow me to venture over there but it highlighted the fact that there are enough walking trails in the area for you to spend a fortnight and never use the same trail twice.
Every shot in this group is vertical, and that's the impression you'll be left with. Tall vertical sandstone spires in every shape imagineable.
I'm sure you'll be as moved as I was should you venture on to the trails.
I knew that when I had climbed a certain amount I would reach an intersection where I had to turn left and that became fact some time after the trail flattened out (pic 3).
You might think that the national parks body have signs everywhere and you'd be right. The problem is not the signs but finding a map with the trails on them. So far I've found it well nigh impossible.
You can obtain maps with some tracks on them but an up-to-date one with all the trails is rare indeed.
Anyhow, I'd worked out that Elbleitenweg would be a good track to follow, so when I reached a green and white sign that said Kliene Bastei - Elbleitenweg (pic 5) I was relieved and moved in a northerly direction. I hadn't gone far when the first of the ramparts greeted me (pic 4).
It was the beginning of a wonderland of natural beauty and awesome scenery.
It started out as a walk along the Elbe from Bad Schandau to Schmilke. The weather was initially unkind but, by the time we settled into a hot chocolate at the bar in Schmilke, it hadn't snowed or rained for about half an hour so I made a decision to try for the heights and leave Rosemarie to catch the ferry and train back.
I had seen the sign so I knew where to start. An inconspicuous beginning between houses leads you up the first of many stairs you'll have to ascend.
Your first goal will be the lookout (pic 4). It offers nice views along the Elbe but, if you want to take a photograph you will really have to pick your time because, for most of the day, you'll be shooting into the sun. I would recommend very early morning or very late afternoon.
At times the trail can be so littered with leaves that it disappears beneath them and you have to guess where each individual step is but you won't lose the overall trail.
Rosemarie and I started on a walk towards Schmilke from Bad Schandau. We had little idea exactly how far it was but I figured an hour would put a hole in it.
I'd like to say it was pleasant but initially the weather was bleak and we were beset by snow and sleet for about 20 minutes and Rosemarie wanted to go back. I encouraged her to push on a little further, despite the cold.
This turned out to be fortunate because it cleared soon after and the rest of the walk was in overcast, but fine, conditions.
The route is sealed the whole way. In fact, much of the Elbe has walking and bike paths beside it so you enjoy sections of the river for most of its length.
Eventually we reached Schmilke in something over an hour and I took the extra steps just to go across the old Czech border towards Hrensko.
We then had a lovely warming hot chocolate in the pub on the corner. In fact, from my brief observations, it was the only place open.