THE DANUBE CYCLEWAY: VOLUME 1
From the source in the Black Forest to Budapest
Author: Mike Wells
Softback 266 pages
Mike Wells has been doing his stuff again. With Cicerone guides to the Adlerweg, the Moselle Cycle Route and the Rhine Cycle Route already in his saddlebag, that he has turned his attention to one of Europe’s most popular cycle routes should come as no surprise.
Mike points out that the cycle tracks which most of the route follows can be very busy in summer, not that this is necessarily a bad thing and, as he says, there always seems to be plenty of accommodation. So, it seems that this is a very necessary and timely guide. Volume One – so we may hope that Volume Two is on the way – covers the route from the source of the Danube to Budapest, which takes the great river from its birth as a stream to the great flood of Europe’s water that flows powerfully past the grand waterfront in the heart of Central Europe. This is a distance of 1269km, out of a total length of 2888km. The second volume might be a long one!
Helpfully, the route description begins with a ride from Triberg station to the source. Interestingly the “official source” of the Danube is at Donauschingen, but the “Danube Headwater” near Martinskapelle is the true source or Donauquelle, being the longer of two stream that meet at Donauschingen. The first part of the route is therefore officially along the River Breg.
As with many long-distance signed routes that, in themselves, form a cohesive whole, the Danube Cycleway is made up of and signed as a mixture of Donauradweg and other routes. All together, they take one on a fascinating journey and a read through this guide opened up fresh impressions of the Danube in my mind. One expects the grandeur for the deep gorges and the buildings imperial grandeur of the great Habsburg cities, the ancient monasteries and castles. However, the important nature reserve of the Donaumoos, the sink-holes around Immendingen and the – blindly logical though it is – simple fact that the Danube starts as a small stream high in the Black Forest, do spring to mind so readily.
The usual Cicerone format is followed beginning with an introduction to the route and advice on how and when to ride it. It is especially worth noting that the snow can lie in the Black Forest into late spring. Food, accommodation, equipment and other maps and – very generously - guides are all covered. The development of on-line mapping is reflected in the link to an Open Street Maps version of Eurovelo Route 6. Detailed route description with snippets of information and more detailed panels on the main towns, cities and places of interest, form the main part of the book. Summary charts of possible stages, accommodation, refreshments opportunities and useful sources of information follow.
Most of the route is in Germany and Austria, with a short excursion into Slovakia, followed by a ride of around 130km to the end – for the present volume – in Hungary. There is a short glossary of useful terms. Hungarian is a notoriously individualistic language, so be prepared to have a go.
There are a number of alternative routes. There are alternative routes possible, especially below Bratislava, where the Danube divides into a number of channels. Indeed the author points out that it is a shorter ride to Budapest if one initially stays in Slovakia, but that tourist infrastructure is under-developed. Some may find that more attractive. In other places, where there is an occasional rough section of track, an alternative route is offered. Then there’s the chance to pick up a ferry every now and again.
Of course, when describing a route of this length, it will never be possible to cover much, other than directions, in significant detail. Cyclists will all find some excursions of their own, in any case. So, it is the task of the guide to introduce the reader to the Danube and sow the seeds of exploration and anticipation. This guide does this admirably.
Reviewed by Steve Dyster
REVIEWED FIRST PUBLISHED 2015