Klaus and I both agreed that we like doing short bike tours as well as the long ones – three days gives you a real chance to travel further and do some exploring, but you only have to take one day off work.
So we had a look at our diaries and decided that the weekend in the middle of August would be suitable for a tour. Klaus put together a route for us, 350km over three days, and we made arrangements.
The tour was to be in Münsterland which is east of where we live, with rolling hills. We had ridden a little in Münsterland a few years ago, but this would be a chance to explore a bit more. Klaus also managed to route our track past lots of different castles, so we decided to call it a Schlössertour (Castle Tour).
This was the planned route for the entire trip:
We were both able to get the Monday off so our tour would be from Saturday to Monday.
Packing for our tours now takes just a few minutes – this is because what you need for a 3 day tour and what you need for a 2 week tour is mostly the same – 3 sets of cycling clothing, 1 set of normal clothing, shoes, wash kit, gadget chargers, iPad. Tools and waterproofs are usually already in the velomobile.
I had split the days up into three similar length days, with just the first day a bit shorter (this was due to a rather meagre choice of hotels).
Day 1: Kempen to Gescher
So on Saturday morning we set off in a leisurely manner after 10:30am, heading to Gescher.
The weather forecast was a bit unfortunate for the tour, with the first two days pretty rainy. Thus we started late, as it was forecasted to dry up as the day wore on. But we didn’t want to leave it too late!
The first fifteen minutes or so were in drizzle but it wasn’t too bad. We were cycling to Rees am Rhein which is a 55km route which we know really well. We also knew that food opportunities weren’t great after Rees, and our route actually bypassed Rees rather than going into the town, so I suggested we tried the café we have ridden past quite often on our way past Uedem – it’s Hochwald-Spargel but they have signs for a café too; we don’t usually stop there as we have already stopped at Büllhorsthof in Winnekendonk, but for a 115km ride Winnekendonk was a bit too soon for a cake stop, at 31km. The one to the east of Uedem would be at 40km and Google thought it would be open, so we decided to give it a go!
So we pootled along in the drizzle but it soon dried up and although the roads were still a bit wet it was fine for us. It was a fairly cool day, maybe 17 degrees, and I was feeling the chill a little from my wet cycling jersey. I hadn’t thought to bring my motorbike neckwarmer and that turned out to be a bit of a mistake on this tour!
In due course we arrived at Hochwald-Spargel and the Hufschen Henn Hofcafé. There was just one other group of people there but it was open and they had a selection of cakes which all looked pretty good.
The people were very friendly and as we sat eating our cake they brought out several new cakes which had been freshly-prepared in house. They all looked good!
We also saw the food that was brought to the other table for those having lunch and it looked really nice. So this café was definitely another good find!
As we left the café the rain started, and it stayed with us for quite a bit of the rest of our journey.
However, we are made of tough stuff and battled through!
Our castles started fairly early in the trip – just after Rees we passed Haus Empel. We couldn’t see it very well through the trees (we were riding fast on the B67) but it looks like this:
It was the first of many “Wasserschlösser” or castles with a moat that we saw over the next three days.
Just a few kilometres further on we passed Wasserburg Anholt which is another impressively-moated castle.
We rode along the border with NL but staying on the German side, past some places with excellent names: Dinxperlo and Spork.
At 86km cycled we crossed into the Netherlands, but there was almost nothing to see – no border post, no change in landscape – the only difference is the road markings and road signs are a bit different.
This section of ride was rather nice as it was through woodland. The 2km of road surface which was brick paved rather than asphalt was a bit annoying, but otherwise we enjoyed our brief foray into NL, crossing back into Germany 12km later at Oeding.
Oeding looked familiar, and indeed it was – I had stayed there on my Berlin to London ride. There was rather more traffic than we had seen so far on our ride, and we were restricted to a cycle path which was mostly OK but had its moments, but we headed east on the B525 between Südlohn and Weseke, eventually turning off to take a back way into Gescher. Riding along Bundesstraßen can be quick but isn’t always very scenic!
We arrived at our hotel and went to check in. I reminded them that they had offered us a room to store the velomobiles, but the chap said “but we have a wedding today! No space at all!” This was rather bad news as a wedding meant lots of people wandering about and if the velomobiles had to overnight out in the open where lots of people were carousing this was not great. The chap then offered some space in a carport (which was at least covered to keep the rain off) but this was, too, open to passers-by. In the end he said that in a couple of hours there would be a storage room inside the hotel free and we could put the bikes in there, but would have to get them out by 9:30am the following morning. That would be no problem, so we said we’d go for that.
We had our showers and then I decided to go for a walk to buy a few supplies to nibble on (we hadn’t bought any nuts with us). As I was walking past reception the man who had booked us in said that he had an alternative option, and what turned out to be the owner of the hotel handed me a remote lock for his garage; this was in his private house, opposite the hotel. It was very kind of him, and we were pleased to take up the offer – Millie and Emily were safely ensconced in the garage where they dripped gently onto the floor as they had taken on a fair bit of water today, although it was mostly just a fine drizzle or mist.
We ate in the restaurant at the hotel and it was very good food with efficient service. We also had some entertainment – not the wedding, there was also a Schützenfest going on which involved lots of young chaps walking around in uniforms carrying rifles and a brass band playing VERY loudly outside our bedroom window. During our meal a chap arrived with a squeeze-box and played some tunes very well, with lots of the restaurant patrons singing along.
This kind of thing happens in Germany!
We didn’t get a great night’s sleep because of the Schützenfest which seemed to involve lots of drumming and very loud brass band music. And to cap it all off, at 6am on the dot we had two marching band songs – and then silence again! Needless to say we were awake at that point.
Day 2: Gescher to Selm.
Early this morning Klaus received a message from a Velomobilforum member who saw that we were cycling in his part of the world and offered for us to pop in and see him to dry off from the rain. This was because the forecast for the day was 13mm rain, pretty much non-stop. Anyway, we said yes, and adjusted our planned track accordingly (we would go closer to Münster as that is where Otfried lives).
We had breakfast in the hotel and then noticed on the rain radar a band of dry weather between two huge rainclouds. Sure enough, the rain paused… and we thought it would be a good plan to get cycling during that break. We extracted the velomobiles, returned the garage remote control, paid the bill and then with the audience of most of those breakfasting (not the wedding party, I guess they were still hung over – this was a lot of pensioners!) we set off. Just as the heavy rain began to fall again!!
At times the rain was pretty heavy and it meant that we were both getting quite wet. Klaus periodically put on the Schaumdeckel but this then meant that he overheated and that when he stopped for a traffic light or something his visor steamed up very badly. So he mostly cycled open…
However, overall we were luckier with the weather than expected as we were able to catch up the band of dry weather we had noticed at breakfast and then cycle within it for quite a lot of the first 40km today.
Our first castle today was Schloss Varlar near Rosendahl, but it wasn’t somewhere we could actually get to.
Which was a shame, as the photographs show it is a beautiful building.
And an unusual shape for a castle, as visible from the aerial photo:
So having just looked at the closed gates we turned round and carried on.
We were making a reasonable pace with views of the gentle rolling Münsterland hills ahead.
Our second castle was near Havixbeck, Haus Stapel.
We didn’t manage to see this one at all from the road; the rain meant we didn’t feel like getting out of the velomobiles to look at anything anyway!
Our original route had us passing the second Havixbeck castle, Haus Havixbeck, but instead we stayed north of the main town and headed eastwards towards Münster.
Our alternative route to us to Otfried’s routed us near the third Havixbeck castle, Burg Hülshoff.
We arrived at Otfried’s in the dry but it looked like the rain cloud would catch us up soon. There was nowhere undercover to store Millie so Otfried lent me a cover he made for his Quest. It fitted Millie very well, although was no longer waterproof (he had warned me of this). But it’s given me some ideas if I can find a suitable-size tarpaulin – it would need to cover the whole Deckel and the Naca Duct too.
Otfried and his wife had made us a cheesecake. It was warm out of the oven so we got to admire it for the first round of teas while it cooled down.
When it was time for the second round of warming drinks, the Käsekuchen was judged cool enough to eat…
We spent two hours with Otfried and his wife and it was great to talk to them and share experiences of cycling.
The rain was coming down very hard when we left but we weren’t expecting it to improve so there was little point in waiting. We waved goodbye and headed off into the rain.
I noticed some very sweet and amusing road names on our tour through Münsterland, and one was just south of Otfried’s house – a road called Dingbängerweg!
We were now heading south, parallel to the A1, as it curved slightly to the east. We rode through Amelsbüren and then headed towards Rinkerode, where we passed Haus Borg.
And almost opposite this one is Haus Bisping.
After Rinkerode we crossed the little river Werse just before Albersloh and then headed south to Drensteinfurt.
There were two castles within 1.5 kilometres here. The first was Haus Venne.
The second was Haus Itlingen,
And not too far further along the road we came to yet another castle, Schloss Westerwinkel. This was another huge castle!
The size of some of these places is very impressive, but was totally dwarfed by the next (and final for this day) castle that we passed…
Schloss Nordkirchen is like a German version of Versailles!
Not a good photograph by me at all, here are a couple of better ones!
The amazing thing about this castle is that it seems to now be in use as a Polytechnic (Fachhochschule). What an amazing place to get your education!
Klaus and I were hungry after all this cycling in the heavy rain and we needed something warming so cycled further into the town of Nordkirchen and eventually found a restaurant that was open for hot food at 3:30 in the afternoon – a Croatian restaurant. We had a good meal and then set off for the final 10km to our accommodation in Selm.
We were overnighting in a small Ferienwohnung and the host and hostess were very friendly, letting us store the velomobiles in a store room under one of the apartments.
Both velomobiles were soaking wet but the rain had finally moved away and the forecast for our last day was dry, hurrah!
Day 3: Selm to Kempen
Klaus woke up with a headache, and realised he had not slept very well on the bed/pillow. This unfortunately dogged him throughout the day as the headache was often tending towards a migraine – but we had 120km to ride.
You can see from our reduced average speed that today was harder – not because of the weather (it was dry) or the terrain (less hilly), but as Klaus was feeling under the weather.
We set off at about 9am, enjoying the fact that the sun was shining at last, although it wasn’t particularly warm.
We were very soon at our first castle of the day, Schloss Sandfort. It was a bit hair-raising pulling into the driveway of this castle as there were lots of massive trucks barrelling along the country road to this castle. Some kind of building work was going on, so I quickly got a photo and escaped again!
Here is a better photo, from the inside:
We cycled through Olfen and then continued on roads which were busier than yesterday (Monday morning, to be expected). We used the cycle paths a bit more than we might usually do, partly because of the traffic but also because Klaus wasn’t feeling quite so energetic. Sometimes the cycle path is a bit of a challenge in itself – this one was full of twists and turns for a couple of kilometres:
Approaching Ahsen there was a road closure with diversion, which we followed. It turned out to be OK but one is never entirely sure if it will be a huge detour (it probably added 2km to the total so not too bad). We were riding alongside the wiggly river Lippe, and there is also a canal which had been above the height of the road earlier in our ride today.
We skirted north of Haltern am See but stopped for a coffee and cookie at a McDonalds as Klaus was flagging.
Suitably refreshed we carried on through Wulfren and then we arrived at Schloss Lembeck, somewhere Klaus has regularly stayed in the past (it is a hotel). We stopped, of course!
Despite it only being 20km since our McDonalds stop, we couldn’t resist the café…
We enjoyed a good break here, sitting outside in the sunshine rather than hiding from the rain as we had been doing the last two days!
We continued on in due course, once again to stop quite soon at another castle – Schloss Raesfeld. What a lovely place!
As we were having a relaxing day we stopped and had a bowl of soup whilst looking at the castle. It was a really lovely little area with quaint shops, no cars – just lots of people on bikes!
It was time to move on and we were now heading for Wesel, which is definitely our part of the world. The route Klaus had chosen avoided the busy main roads and took us through some lovely rural areas with fields, woodland and mostly good quality roads. It was lovely!
As we approached Wesel we had to stop for ten minutes as Klaus was feeling a bit seedy with his headache. He took another paracetamol and closed his eyes for a little bit, and then we were OK to carry on.
The route through Wesel isn’t particularly nice but eventually we were on the bridge crossing the Rhine.
Rather than the direct route back from Wesel that we had planned we chose a quieter and more scenic route through Menzelen before rejoining our route at Alpen – with a mega hill. The run back to Issum, Sevelen, Kengen, Saelhuysen and then home via Stenden felt like quite a long way for Klaus, I believe, as his headache was getting worse. But we arrived home safe and sound, unpacked the bikes, wrung out the water from the sound-dampening foam in Emily’s side pockets (Klaus was transporting about a kilo of water, I think!) and then it was time for a shower and for Klaus to lie down in a darkened room! He felt better after about half an hour.
Despite Klaus being a bit poorly on the last day, and despite the rain, we had a lovely tour. Münsterland is great to cycle through and we will definitely go back again. Thanks again to Otfried and his wife for their generous hospitality and Käsekuchen.