Hallowe’en! Ok, so it was yesterday, but still, it seems appropriate to make this week’s Adventure of the Week the scariest named trail that we operate. Disappointingly, it is a deeply beautiful walk, however, if you do it at night I am sure it will become incredibly scary! (please don’t do this trip at night!).
The Harz Witches Trail is one of Germany’s best-loved long distance walking paths. The trail passes through The Harz, a magical region famed for fairy tales, witches and legends, from where the trail gets its name.
Distance: The trail is 96km and can be walked either over 5 walking days or 7 walking days, depending on how tough a walk you want.
Grade: The Harz Witches Trail is graded Moderate for the 7 day trip and Easy to Moderate for the 9-day trip. The first few days are a gentle ascent on well maintained, though occasionally rough, paths before ascending down to Thule at the end.
The trail is just a short journey from Berlin, where the Harz mountains rise from the North German Plain, covering an area of 100km by 30 km wide and straddling the former East/West German border. It has always been known for its outstanding walking and is an area that German outdoor enthusiasts treasure.
The landscapes that you walk through are so diverse and peaceful that the main draw (as it should be) is the walk itself. Walk through evergreen and coniferous forests, winding rocky canyons and beneath towering cliffs. Explore medieval half-timbered villages, charming little mining villages and the famous Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains.
One of the highlights of this wonderful scenery is walking through the Bode Gorge as your trip comes to an end. The river Bode cuts its way through the land, gouging out a gorge that reaches a depth of 280m. It is packed with flora and fauna and makes for a most memorable day’s walking. The woven mat of vegetation is littered with wildflower rock meadows while the mix of beech and birch dapple the light to add an enchanted feel to the gorge. And of course, there is a ruined castle, complete with its own legend.
And this type of lore is everywhere in the Harz. The reason behind the name, The Witches Trail, is due to the 133 witches that were burned in Quedlinburg in 1589. These witches congregated around the Brocken, the highest peak in the area, and indeed many people say that they still do. (Queue spine-tingling music!) There is also ‘evidence’ of horses hooves, from giants chasing princesses and mountains where the great leaders of Germany sleep, waiting for the day Germany needs them again. When you walk through this leavy, craggy, jagged region, you can see why so many tales have sprung up about the area. It has an otherworldly, fairytale quality about it that inspires thoughts about the supernatural side of life.
We recommend spending your final night in Quedlinburg. Aside from its obvious dislike of witches, it is a beautiful medieval town, with over 1300 examples of half-timbered houses, again adding to the fairytale appearance of this trip. Quedlinburg was the first capital city of Germany and dominating its skyline is the Abbesses’ Palace and St. Servatius church, both well worth a visit.
Another of the great joys of the Harz Witches Trail is its proximity to Berlin. It is a simple 2.5-hour train journey from Berlin to Osterode, where your adventure begins, couldn’t be easier. Berlin is well connected from everywhere in Europe by a host of low-cost carriers.
If you need any more information on the trip, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected] and one of our Destination & Adventure specialists will be more than happy to help you.