Sunday, 1 June 2014

Off the beaten track - cycling trip Mertzig - Lac de la Haute Sure - Heiderscheid - Mertzig

For some reason there are no official cycling routes in the hilly area south of Esch-sur-Sur. In the Lëtzebuerger Vëlos-Initiative map that area is empty what comes to cycling paths. Off the beaten track usually means to "be in a place where few people go, far from any main roads and towns" (Cambridge Dictionary). I am sure the real sportsmen, those who ride expensive road bikes and wear cycling team clothes, go there, but we foreigners who see bicycle more as a means of transport, do not, probably because of loooong uphills. I wanted to try, starting at Mertzig. I climbed up to the high plateau of Eschdorf and then down to the Lac de la Haute Sure to Lultzhausen. From there to Esch-sur-Sure - Heiderscheidergrund and back up to the plateau at Heiderscheid. From there to Kehmen and down to Feulen and back to Mertzig.

After the ride Bofferding beer refresh the muscular body of the cyclist. Here in Niederfeulen.

Esaias quenching thirst with Lada Niva

Don't miss Lada Niva in the background. Lada Niva is the legendary Russian 4x4 off-road vehicle (VAZ 2121) described by its designers as a "Renault 5 put on a Land Rover chassis." The production of Lada Niva started in 1977 and became an off-road bestseller in many countries, especially in Brazil.

This area is just wonderful with beautiful farm houses and small villages, breathtaking sceneries, sky is close and nature full of interesting details (birds, deers, foxes and flowers).

Here is the route recorded with Sports-tracker.

You would not expect a fancy castle-like villa in the middle of a forest. But here it is. This is by no means representative building in Luxembourg.

Fancy villa in the middle of forest

After a long uphill my reward was stunning landscape, like this.
Farm at Dellen

And this.
View from Eschdorf plateau

Upper Sûre Nature Park is Luxembourg's water region. In the center of the park is a water reservoir that produces 70 % of Luxembourgs drinking water, in addition to electricity and recreation (swimming, diving, sun bathing, hiking).
Naturla park starts here

Agriculture is very important. In the high plateaus there is practically no contaminants. This farmer seem to be fanatic radio amateur.
Farmer has big antennas

When approaching the water reservoir it feels like arriving to the edge of the world. The lake is in the deep valley ahead.
Approaching the Lake Haute Sure

Before arriving to the lake we appreciate singing of a skylark. The Eurasian Skylark  (Alauda arvensis in Latin, kiuru in Finnish, alouette in French and 云雀 in Zhongwen) is small, dull looking bird, but it's song makes it the king of the open farmland. Typically the male is hovering over the field, gaining altitude bit by bit up to 50 to 100 meters and then it plunges down quickly and starts the ascent again after taking couple of deep breaths. The female is observing somewhere if the male is able to hover high up until it is just a dot in the sky while singing loud all the time. In the video the skylark is in the upper center part and moves to the left. Loudspeakers on!

Another interesting thing before descending to the lake is the so called "European Sculptures Route of Peace" work of art. It is made by Polish sculptor Tomasz Domanski and called "Square forest at the crossroads". Art in Luxembourg tend to be very elitistic. This work is quite nice, tho. At least Don Esaias like it a lot.
Square forest at the crossroads

The road, recently widened and with brand new tarmac, leads from Eschdorf to Lultzhausen, next to water reservoir.
Down to Lultzhausen

Down by the lake.
Signs by the Lake Haute Sure

In fact it is better to descend straight to Esch-sur-Sure, not to Lultzhausen, because the road between Lultzhausen and Esch-sur-Sure is dull, there is nothing to see. This and the next two photos are the only decent views over the lake. Esch is not far, only 5 km, but the lake is hidden from your eyes.
Lac de la Haute Sure

Nevertheless, from the bridge you can observe a diving course.

This was the best view over the lake. Better views are available on the other side of the lake, but I didn't have time for that.
Haute Sure water reservoir

If you stay in Youth Hostels, which are high quality accommodations in Luxembourg, you may try the hiking paths that connect different hostels. They are marked with little white arrows.
Youth hostels are connected with hiking paths

Esch-sur-Sure is a charming place and highly recommended for a day trip.

Bridge over river Sure (Sauer)

Two km to the East from Esch, still by the River, is the popular recreational area Heiderscheidergrund. In May the campings are already full of Dutch tourists. A charming place. Here a traditional house and "La chapelle octagonal".
Heiderschiedergrund and octagonal chapel

Shortest way back to Mertzig is to ascend back to the plateau. There are two options: busy route national number 15 or very steep forest road "Bourwe" (more than 2 km) with no traffic at all. I took the latter, but had to walk. It is too steep for my bike. Here's a view from Bourwe.
Spruce trees

On this steep ascend I saw the first Digitalis this year. It is also called Foxglove, (Digitalis purpurea in Latin, sormustinkukka in Finnish, Fingerhüte in German and 毛地黄属 in Mandarin). Digitalis grows in acidic soil in partial or full shade. The whole plant (also roots and seeds) is very toxic and can cause vomiting, nausea, hallucinations and deadly heart disturbances. But medicine extracted from foxglove, digitalin, has been used for heart problems like arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation. Don Esaias has passion for plants and herbal medicines.

When entering Heiderscheid, the first thing we see is an old lavoir. Lavoir is a public place put aside for the washing of clothes. They are located on a spring or by the river. This is on a spring, but no more in use.

Vintage Heiderscheid
Old farm houses

Now we are back to the high plateau, in 499 meters from the sea level. This is ideal for producing wind energy.

And milk!
Cows on the slope

This is the sugar of the trip. On of the best, probably the best descents in Luxembourg. Small smooth road without traffic on the high plateau and down to Niederfeulen. Six kilometers of pure joy. With views that blow our mind. Highly recommended! It is called "Chemin de Kehmen". No name on the top end but well marked down in the valley.
Chemin de Kehmen

We had to stop the lovely descent when Don Esaias spotted this.
Vicia sativa - livestock fodder

It is Vicia sativa (also common vetch in English, rehuvirna in Finnish, 救荒野豌豆 in Mandarin), a livestock fodder that is member of the pea family Fabaceae. It is very nutritious especially for horses.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes in Latin, punakettu in Finnish, 赤狐) is common in Luxembourg.

Nice texture on a wheat field.
Lines on the field

These windmills are in Germany, in distance of 20 km.
Windmills in Germany

Don Esaias got very hungry after 40 km riding up and down. Russian style rye bread from Boulangerie Sinner is his favourite. We saw at least one rye field in the plateau, but unfortunately didn't take photo.
Esaias having rye bread

Back to Mertzig, where we parked our vehicle. Mertzig church.
Mertzig church

1 comment :

  1. Thank you, Esa, for more than six minutes of pure blog-reading joy! This is probably your best ever, i.m.o.!