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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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The Harz Witches Trail, Quedlinburg
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Highlights

  • Enjoying the beautiful forests, lakes and rivers of the Harz Mountains
  • Climbing Brocken in the footsteps of Goethe
  • Taking in the history, views and spirituality of the Brocken
  • Arriving in Thale via the Bode River Valley Gorge (Bodental)
  • Exploring Quedlinburg, one of the best preserved medieval and renaissance towns in Europe

One of the “Top Trails of Germany” the Harz Witches Trail long distance walking trail crosses The Harz, a magical region famed for fairy tales, witches and legends.

Just a short journey from Berlin the Harz mountains rise from the North German Plain, covering an area of 100km by 30 km wide straddling the former East/West German border and have always been a popular holiday destination, especially well known for great walking.

The Harz Witches Trail traverses the Harz Mountains and National park from West to East from Osterode to Thale taking in evergreen and coniferous forests, rocky canyons, towering cliffs, medieval half-timbered villages and the famous Broken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains and the focal point of the pagan Walpurgis night festival, when witches and devils abound.

Starting in the historic town of Osterode the Harz Witches Trail climbs for the first few days through the forests, dams and canals of the Oberharzer Wasserregal to reach the Brocken. You then descend gradually through beautiful countryside and pretty former mining villages such as Rübeland and Treseburg. The walk through the Bodetal gorge is a final highlight before you reach Thale where the trail ends. We recommend spending your last night in the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Town of Quedlinburg, one of the best preserved medieval and renaissance towns in Europe.

You can choose to walk the Harz Witches Trail over either 5 or 7 walking days and our self guided walks the Harz Witches Trail include hand picked accommodation in guesthouses and small hotels, daily door to door luggage transfer, maps, detailed route notes and emergency backup and support.

DAY 1: Arrive Osterode

The historic old town of Osterode has many half timbered houses, churches, a pedestrianized area and the old Town Hall dating from 1552 is an impressive backdrop to the market square.


Hannover and Berlin are the closest airports and Osterode is easily reached by train from either (2h10 and 2h30 respectively).


Overnight: Osterode


DAY 2: Walk from Osterode to Dammhaus

Starting from the centre of Osterode the Witches Trail follows the Hundsche Weg, an old mining road that brought supplies to the Oberharz mining area. Midway through the day you reach the World Heritage “Oberharzer Wasserregal” (Upper Harz Water Regale), an intricate system of 110 dams and 550km of ditches built between the 16th to 19th centuries, which supplied power to the mines of the area. The trail continues to climb past the charming Hubhaus Polsterberg where you can enjoy a welcome drink until you reach the Sperberhaier Dammhaus, where we will collect you for your short transfer to Riefensbeek where you will stay overnight.


Walk: 21 km (16 miles), 600m ascent, 7 hours


Overnight: Riefensbeek


DAY 3: Walk from Dammhaus to Brocken

After the short transfer back to Dammhaus you can look forward to a fabulous day of walking on some of the Harz’s most beautiful trails.Your day begins through tranquil forests and along water ditches before you join the Magdeburger Weg, widely regarded as one of the finest walking trails in the Harz which leads you up to the summit of Torfhaus, where you can clearly see the summit of Brocken, your objective for the day.


Johann von Goethe was well known for having summited Brocken in 1777, 1783 and 1784 and from here on you will be following the Goetheweg footpath to the summit of Brocken. The Brocken has always featured in myths and legends of witches and devils and interestingly gave it’s name to the Brocken Spectre, an optical illusion whereby your shadow, surrounded by a rainbow, is cast on the clouds below.


The Brocken was used extensively by the Russians for surveillance and espionage but today it is open to visitors again and the old television tower is now a hotel.


Walk: 21 km (13 miles), 560m ascent, 7 hours.


Overnight: The Brocken Hotel


DAY 4: Walk from Brocken to Königshütte

Leaving Brocken the trail heads downhill past the Trudenstein viewpoint to the Drei Anne Hohne railway station, a “must” for railway fans. The route continues through beautiful countryside past the Königshütter waterfall to Königshütte, your overnight stop.


Walk: 16km (10 miles), 50m ascent, 4 hours


Overnight: Königshütte guesthouse


DAY 5: Walk from Königshütte to Wendefurth

There is a noticeable change in the countryside today as you walk into the chalk downs around Rübeland. You can still see the evidence of chalk mining as well as the showcaves of Baumannshöhle and Hermannshöhle, discovered in 1536 and 1866 respectively and both worthwhile visiting. History buffs will enjoy the historic mining village and area at Neuwerk before continueing along the River Bode to Wendefurth.


Walk: 19km (11.5 miles), 200m Ascent, 5-6 Hours


Overnight: Wendefurth


DAY 6: Walk from Wendefurth to Thale

The final stage of the Harz Witches Trail follows the River Bode soon reaching the “Grand Canyon of the North”, where the gorge walls tower up to 250m above you. A real highlight of the trip and quickly followed by the opportunity to climb Hexentanplatz or Rosstrappe, where you can enjoy fabulous views of the Bode River Valley.


Walk: 19km (11.5 miles), 200m ascent, 5 - 6 hours


Overnight: Thale or Quedlinburg


For your last night you can choose to stay in either Thale, a charming small town or Quedlinburg, a beautiful medieval town on the UNESCO World Heritage list made up of half timbered houses and dominated by the castle and the cathedral on the hill above town. Quedlinburg is one of the best preserved medieval and renaissance towns in Europe.


DAY 7: Onward Travel

Regular trains connect to Berlin (3h) and Hannover (2h) and other destinations throughout Germany. We also offer an optional return transfer to Osterode between 9:00 and 10:00 each day.


Relaxed 9 Day & 8 night Itinerary (7 Walking Days)

Code: WGSHWT2


Days: 9 (7 Walking Days)


Nights: 8


Grade: Easy to Moderate


Description: With more time to explore and shorter walking days this itinerary covers the Harz Witches Trail in 7 walking days.


DAY 1: Arrive Osterode

The historic old town of Osterode has many half timbered houses, churches, a pedestrianized area and the old Town Hall dating from 1552 is an impressive backdrop to the market square.


Hannover and Berlin are the closest airports and Osterode is easily reached by train from either (2h10 and 2h30 respectively).


Overnight: Osterode


DAY 2: Walk from Osterode to Buntenbock

Starting from the centre of Osterode the Witches Trail follows the Hundsche Weg, an old mining road that brought supplies to the Oberharz mining area.


Towards the end of your walk you reach the World Heritage “Oberharzer Wasserregal” (Upper Harz Water Regale) , an intricate system of 110 dams and 550km of ditches built between the 16th to 19th centuries, which supplied power to the mines of the area. The small village of Buntenbock is surrounded by woods and lakes and has always been a favourite of visitors to the Harz.


Walk: 12 km (7.5 miles), 460m ascent, 4-5 hours


Overnight: Buntenbock


DAY 3: Walk from Buntenbock to Altenau

The trail continues to climb through the dams and ditches of the mine works through forests and past lakes before you reach the charming Hubhaus Polsterberg where you can enjoy a drink until you reach the Sperberhaier Dammhaus, and continue through lovely countryside to Altenau, where you spend the night.


Walk: 15km (9 miles), 180m ascent, 4-5 hours


Overnight: Altenau


DAY 4: Walk from Altenau to Brocken

Today you can look forward to a fabulous day of walking on some of the Harz’s most beautiful trails. Your day begins through tranquil forests and along water ditches before you join the Magdeburger Weg, widely regarded as one of the finest walking trails in the Harz, which leads you up to the summit of Torfhaus, where you can clearly see the summit of Brocken, your objective for the day. J.W. von Goethe was well known for having summited Brocken in 1777, 1783 and 1784 and from here on you will be following the Goetheweg footpath to the summit of Brocken.


The Brocken has always featured in myths and legends of witches and devils and interestingly gave it’s name to the Brocken Spectre, an optical illusion whereby your shadow, surrounded by a rainbow, is cast on the clouds below. The Brocken was used extensively by the Russians for surveillance and espionage but today it is open to visitors again and the old television tower is now a hotel.


Walk: 15 km (9 miles), 520m ascent, 4-5 hours.


Overnight: The Brocken Hotel


DAY 5: Walk from Brocken to Königshütte

Leaving Brocken the trail heads downhill past the Trudenstein viewpoint to the Drei Anne Hohne railway station, a “must” for railway fans. The route continues through beautiful countryside past the Königshütter waterfall to Königshütte, your overnight stop.


Walk: 16km (10 miles), 50m ascent, 4 hours


Overnight: Königshütte


DAY 6: Walk from Königshütte to Rübeland

There is a noticeable change in the countryside today as you walk into the chalk downs around Rübeland. You can still see the evidence of chalk mining as well as the showcaves of Baumannshöhle and Hermannshöhle, discovered in 1536 and 1866 respectively and both worthwhile visiting.


Walk: 10km (6 miles), 150m ascent, 3 hours


Overnight: Rübeland


DAY 7: Walk from Rübeland to Treseburg

History buffs will enjoy the historic mining village and area at Neuwerk before continueing along the River Bode to Wendefurth and then on to Treseburg. The walking is easy going and rewards with some wonderful viewpoints.


Walk: 17km (11 miles), 100m Ascent, 5-6 Hours


Overnight: Treseburg


DAY 8: Walk from Treseburg to Thale

The final stage of the Harz Witches Trail follows the River Bode soon reaching the “Grand Canyon of the North”, where the gorge walls tower up to 250m above you. A real highlight of the trip and quickly followed by the opportunity to climb Hexentanzplatz or Rosstrappe, where you can enjoy fabulous views of the Bode River Valley.


Walk: 11km (6 miles), 100m ascent, 3 hours


Overnight: Thale or Quedlinburg


For your last night you can choose to stay in either Thale, a charming small town or Quedlinburg, a beautiful medieval town on the UNESCO World Heritage list made up of half timbered houses and dominated by the castle and the cathedral on the hill above town. Quedlinburg is one of the best preserved medieval and renaissance towns in Europe.


DAY 9: Onward Travel

Regular trains connect to Berlin (3h) and Hannover (2h) and other destinations throughout Germany. We also offer an optional return transfer to Osterode between 9:00 and 10:00 each day.

Accommodation


We specifically select your accommodation to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay on the Harz Witches Trail. We use a mix of small family run hotels and guesthouses. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.


Which accommodation you will stay in depends on availability at the time of booking, but we regularly use the following:


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers


If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.



This walk is available for solo walkers but we would recommend that you are experienced in walking and navigating alone. If you are travelling solo the holiday is slightly more expensive as some costs are not shared.


Availability

The Harz Witches Trail is available to start on any date from April to mid-October. In April the Harz is still likely to have snow, especially The Brocken. You can start on any day of the week but we would advise avoiding a Wednesday/Thursday as the Brocken can get very crowded over weekends.


Time of Year

Traditionally July/August has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although I believe any time between April and October offers a wonderful experience.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. This walk is available for solo walkers but we would recommend that you are experienced in walking and navigating alone. If you are travelling solo the holiday is slightly more expensive as some costs are not shared.


Grade & Terrain

The standard 7 day tour is graded moderate; perfect for regular walkers, some days will be more challenging than others and the terrain will be varied with some rough and rugged footpaths. You should be a regular walker and have a good level of walking fitness to get the most from this holiday. The relaxed 9 day version is graded easy to moderate but still has some longer days, which individually would be graded moderate.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The Harz Witches Trail is generally way-marked and we supply you with detailed maps, route notes and a pre-departure information pack so that you should have no problem following the route each day.


Baggage Transfers

Your bags will be transferred between your accommodation as per your itinerary. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Getting to Osterode

By Air: Hannover and Berlin are the closest airports and are Osterode is easily reached by train from either (2h10 and 2h30 respectively).
Visit the DB Bahn website for train times and fares to Osterode.


By Train: You can travel from London to mainland Europe via Eurostar, then take further onward trains to Germany.


By Car: Parking is available close to your first night’s hotel and we can arrange a transfer back to Osterode between 9:00 and 10:00 on the morning after you finish your walk.



Getting from Thale/Quedlinburg

Regular trains connect to Berlin (3h) and Hannover (2h) and other destinations throughout Germany. Visit the DB Bahn website for train times and fares.

Included

  • Accommodation for 6/8 nights in comfortable small hotels and guesthouses.
  • 6/8 Breakfasts
  • 5/7 Packed lunches
  • Daily door to door luggage transfers.
  • Detailed route descriptions with maps and a comprehensive pre-departure information pack
  • Transfers to/from accommodation as described when not staying on the route (except if you have specifically requested to stay in Quedlinburg; in which case the train from Thale to Quedlinburg is payable locally - approx. 9 mins).
  • Transfer from Thale or Quedlinburg back to Osterode if required.
  • Local emergency support and telephone backup from our UK office.

Excluded

  • Flights and transfers to first / from last accommodation
  • Train transfer (if you wish to stay in Quedlinburg instead of Thale) between these locations; payable locally - approx. 9 mins.
  • Dinners
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned in the program

Extras

  • Single room supplement(s) if applicable
  • Solo walker supplement if applicable
  • Additional nights before, during or after the walk.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the region is very popular over the Summer months, especially during public holiday periods. However, we will always try our best to accommodate your plans. 

How fit do I need to be?

The standard 7 day tour is graded moderate; perfect for regular walkers, some days will be more challenging than others and the terrain will be varied with some rough and rugged footpaths. You should be a regular walker and have a good level of walking fitness to get the most from this holiday. The relaxed 9 day version is graded easy to moderate but still has some longer days, which individually would be graded moderate.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask that you limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person. 

What equipment do I need? 

Your detailed information pack will be sent to you after you book. This has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking/trekking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.

What is the best time of year?

Traditionally July/August has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although I believe any time between April and October offers a wonderful experience.

What happens if I can't walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop. 

 

An easy but delightful walk

5

I like visiting places a little off the usual tourist track. This walk provided a relatively easy walk and the local representatives were helpful in solving weather-related problems.

Ricardo

Nottingham

Witches in the woods

4

Walk - interesting and varied walk. Not too tough but just about the right level of distance per day (this was the 5 day option). Well signposted throughout but route notes were useful (map perhaps on too great a scale to be truly helpful). Climb to the Brocken was steady incline over two days so not as steep as anticipated. Uneven path on the final day in the Bode gorge was perhaps the trickiest part but overall nothing to deter a reasonable walker. Walk was soundtracked to constant bird song (not the gloomy pine forests I was expecting) and we saw fire salamanders, newts, jays, red kites, and heard cuckoos and woodpeckers. Accommodation - all of a reasonable standard, being comfortable and clean. Beer/wine and cakes were all enjoyed! Service - no issues whatsoever with the organisation and baggage service, which worked well. Tips: you generally tend to make your package lunches from the same food provided at breakfast, so you might get bored of cheese and cold meats quickly. There are a couple of supermarkets at Osterode so stock up there. The water provided is generally fizzy, which is less enjoyable during a heat wave (which is what we experienced). Again you might want to stock up at Osterode. Brocken accommodation struggled with serving evening meal - people after us had to wait close to 2 hours for their first courser and then it wasn't cooked right. You do want to go to dinner as early as possible here.

Mark

Edinburgh

true

Great trail! Would do it again.

4

I have read some negative reviews that this hike is mostly through the forest. Yes It is but for me this is the beauty of the trail. It was so peaceful. There were a few challenging climbs but nothing someone who is active can't handle. I would do this trail again. We did need support for one of our group who became unable to complete the hike due to an injury and we were very well taken care of.

Catherine

Canada

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Well organised and very interesting

4

Everything (except the weather!) worked: the accommodation was fine and our bags were always waiting for us. The walking was easy, and the route very well marked with frequent witch signs. The route notes were good and very detailed, although hardly necessary. One thing to bear in mind is that the route passes very few shops so it's as well to stock up on snacks in Osterode; the hotels and pensions all provided lunch packets (included in the deal); the one from the Brocken hotel even contained a small bottle of herbal liqueur. Overall the trail had plenty of interest. The first couple of days passed through the 'Ober Harzer WasserRegale', a complex system of dams, channels and reservoirs constructed to serve the (now disused) mines; there are many information boards but these are in very technical German so it's worth doing a bit of research beforehand. The Brocken is obviously iconic in the German psyche and very popular; the display in the small museum there of the DDR days was eye-opening and worth a short visit. The caves in Rubeland are worth a visit. Some of the route was shared with trails describing the industrial archeology and geology of the region, interesting if your German is up to reading the information boards. The last day's walk through the Bodetal gorge was dramatic, with some plunging views over the boiling Bode river. There wasn't a lot of wildlife to see, though there were lots of jays and nuthatches in the woods lower down, and black redstarts in the villages. We were pleased to find a couple of salamanders in Treseburg. Overall it was a very interesting trip, even though it rained heavily every day and it was so foggy on the Brocken that we had trouble finding the hotel. A short round-trip on a steam train from Quedlinburg rounded it off nicely.

DrJ

Oxfordshire

true

The best self-guided holiday we've done - so far!

5

In addition to the above points, the walking notes were very much appreciated for their detail and accuracy.

The ranchers

Dorset

true

Well Planned; Well Run

5

This was a well planned and well organised walk. The map provided was well suited for walkers, and the guide book precise in its descriptions and directions. The times I got lost were due to my inattention, probably due to tiredness.The accommodation provided was good and comfortable.Otherwise this walk was hard to fault.

Edward

Sydney

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Magic abounds in the deep green

5

This is an amazing trail of magic and history. The locals are helpful and friendly tho it helps to learn as much of the language as you can before adventuring there. The mountains and forests abound with beauty and a sense of deep green magic. The services of Mac's and their counterpart Wandern im harz made this adventure delightfull. They handled the logistics so all you need worry about is hiking the miles I would do this trail again but have a wish list of so many other offered adventures Can't wait for my next one Elvin Baer Denver Colorado

Elvinthorn

Denver Colorado

true

Super walking

5

For us it was a very good walking route. A lot of ascent/descent, but not too strenious. We had perfect weather - only ½ hour with light rain. The route was very well marked and we did only use the provided "turn by turn" booklet once - and misread it!!! At lot of walking in forrest sheltered from the wind, and some fine views. We did "Brocken" on a semi-sunny day and had some astonishing views from up there. We had had some fears about the stage along Magdeburger Weg, but no worrys. Not a pice of cake, but not as big a challange as we thought. All accommodations were great with friendly staff. Our German is rather ok and we had no trouble. It was our second trip organised by Macs Adventures, and it is absolut not the last one.

Aksel-Ilse

Ry, Denmark

true

Interesting and unusual walk.

4

A very enjoyable walk. Excellently, even pedantically, waymarked and extraordinarily good underfoot, bar the Bode Gorge and a section on the ascent to the Brocken - where the occasional need to look where you're putting your feet comes as a pleasant surprise. Highlights were the beautiful water channels left behind by C17th and C18th century hydraulic engineering, the Brocken itself (touristy but otherwordly), the Bode Gorge and Quedlinburg (a mini Prague). Pine forests can be a trifle unremitting and lacking in incident; if it's misty when you leave the Brocken consider sparing yourself several kilometres of tarmac by taking the train to Drei Annen Hohne. If it's misty when you arrive at the Brocken, don't despair: the weather may well clear in the early evening to give stupendous views from the hotel's viewing platform. A smattering of German is useful but a smile serves almost as well. A small German-English dictionary can help when decoding the menu on the first night; subsequent menus will look astonishingly familiar! If staying an extra night at Quedlinburg consider popping into the bookshop in Heiligegeiststraße and investing €4.95 in Lehmstedt's outstanding "Quedlinburg in One Day". The geology of the area is fascinating and you can brief yourself thoroughly by downloading various leaflets (all available in English translation): google "harzregion landmarken". For the Harzer Hexen-Stieg you need Landemarke 4. "Brocken"; Landemarke 11. "Alte Burg Osterode am Harz"; Landemarke13. "Baumannshöhle". Train tickets in Germany, as in England, are generally significantly cheaper if bought in advance: google "german train tickets".

Jim & Jean

Devon

true

'Which Way?' The Harz Witches Trail.

5

The Harz Witches trail is a superb walk. The route is exceptionally well-signposted indeed you hardly need the map at all! The walking notes offer re-assurance. All the accommodation was welcoming and comfortable but do be aware that as you cross the mountains fewer people speak English, but why should they! The baggage transfer was so good in some places we were simply asked to leave the luggage outside out rooms and it appeared as if by magic in out next room. German restaurant food is very high quality and reasonably priced, a two course meal for two with wine never exceeded 55Euros.If you are seeking a relaxing holiday where you can spend the day walking in great scenery and then settle down with a meal and your book this is for you. An extra day at Quedlinburg at the end is a great way to round off your holiday. Another must is the King Ludwig Way in south Germany also a first class experience.

Freddie

Lincoln

true

The Harz Witches Trail

4.5 13

100.0

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