It’s been more than three years since I started organising hiking events in the VRR area (and around) and there has always been an area that we never visited. This is because of the way the train lines are created in this area: There’s essentially an elongated (to east and west) rectangle that connects Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Dortmund and Hagen. Then in the middle, there’s one line connecting Essen and Wuppertal.
So far I have always organized hikes in which the trails somewhat touched the edge of this void, making it slightly smaller every time, but I never succeeded in making a decisive trail to cross it without making it overly long. Today, as we got a long weekend, which was meant for our weekend trip to Liège which got cancelled due to coronavirus, I decided to create a mind boggling 22 km hike to trace a line in this void for the first time.
Despite coronavirus and despite being a long trail, a lot of people signed up, probably not realising what they were up to. I sent a warning in the previous evening, which I don’t think made any significant difference. And so we started hiking from Gevelsberg Hbf. In order to avoid creating a cluster, I had to leave the train station very quickly.
This large number of people can be also attributed to the weather – it was a brilliant sunny day. If you go to one of the main rivers in this region (Rhine, Ruhr etc.), you can see huge crowds everywhere in such a weather. With the corona restrictions partially lifted, I’m pretty sure that it would have looked chaotic today. In this sense, I’m pretty sure that it was a good decision to organise a hike today to scoop up a few people from those crowds to reduce the density there.
So we finally came to this unknown area, which I thought would look pretty much like in Velbert. And indeed it did :). The VRR area is such a diverse area with different characteristics in different regions. When you go below the river Wupper, you can see the beginning of Sauerland, which starts becoming quite hilly and forestal. Above the Ruhr, it’s a hugely flat area with mostly fields. Today, we were exactly in between, and both the types of nature we could see and the terrain, it was exactly somewhere in between. We had both forests and fields, changing the landscape regularly. And the hills were indeed there, but not like the mountains we usually see in the south of Wuppertal or Hagen. The slopes were very mild, which made me think actually this is the right kind of walk if you just want to get fresh air on weekends.
One reason why it was so difficult to organise a hike in this area which I didn’t state above is here: highways. Most of the large motorways around the Wupper are in the north of the Wupper, which is understandable considering the fact that the south of the Wupper is quite mountainous. Even though the area we visited was amazing, we had to live with the surrounding noise at the same time.
There were a few villages along the way (it’s kind of weird that there are only villages in such a large area inside VRR), but we had a break in this relatively large town Sprockhövel, which is Thomas’s hometown, where he still lives. Sprockhövel is a weird place when it comes to eating out, with myriads of possibilities to take for such a small place.
While I talked endlessly with Thomas, everyone else was quite silent. I’m pretty sure that it was really not easy for the new people.
We did a good job taking a group photo while not violating social distancing. Well, social distancing was not quite respected today. I didn’t really talk about it today. Probably I should next time.
Here’s the problem with MeetUp: it sort of gives the impression that the admin has an infinite power, which is something I really don’t like, as I stated in my first post on this website. Today, after the break, I told everyone not to wait for me while I was folding my chair, but they refused to go without me. I really have to make sure that people understand this point in the coming sessions.
In the third consecutive year, we are having a dry summer, at least for now. Actually since the beginning of the lockdown, it hardly rained. We can clearly see that the nature is suffering right now.
This area between the Ruhr and the Wupper seems to have been an important place during the war. You can still find some historical artefacts, like this one. Apparently this was a sort of bunker with a wall as a protection from bombing attacks.
For some people, 22 km was obviously too much. I was walking with one newbie at the end, who was evidently not feeling well. He got slower and slower, with the sun shining on his face, which must have exhausted him. I hope he could get back home safely still (he left us as soon as we arrived in Hattingen).
For the first time in weeks we could get an ice cream after the hike. From this weekend, we’re allowed to be a group of up to 10 people, so we simply let those go back home who wanted to go and walked around in the city of Hattingen.