Kempen 15 March – Windmills and Beer Bottles

Friday 15 March 2013

This morning was cold but at least there was no more snow.

I decided to do a mid-length cycle ride this morning and walk Poppy in the afternoon. This is partly because I’m going out to meet some people for breakfast in Krefeld tomorrow which means I need to leave by bike at 9am and I don’t suppose I’ll be back till 1pm. Poppy will need to chill out in the morning rather than expect a walk so I thought I’d use today to get her used to the change of schedule.

So Pops and I had a very short round the block walk this morning and it was then time for me to get Alfie out and go cycling.

Today’s route was from a booklet provided by Kempen Tourist Information which lists lots of different cycle rides with maps and points of interest. Unfortunately GPX files (to download onto a Garmin bike satnav) don’t seem to be available so I used the map to plan the route on and then downloaded it to my Garmin. Today’s route was called “Alte Rheinarme” (referring, I think, to an old meander of the Rhein which has now become a lake up at Rheurdt).

15 March map

Part of the reason for picking this route was that it headed north-east which is a direction I haven’t as yet explored. I set off and within a mile found myself in some woodland.

The route wound its way through the woodland and then popped out at the bottom of the hill to Tönisberg which, of course, I then had to climb.

At the top was a strange concrete structure. The guidebook says “In Tönisberg befindet sich ein stillgelegter Förderturm. Ein kleiner Hauch Ruhrpott am Niederrhein.” It’s a headframe over a mining shaft. It was very obvious as I cycled towards it but I didn’t photograph it, assuming there would be a better shot later. Sadly the later shots weren’t as good but you can just see it peeping out behind these trees.

Here’s a photo I found on the Internet:

Förderturm Tönisberg Schacht 4

I had to go wandering back along the road to try to get that photo (I also needed to scale a grassy bank and didn’t quite feel up to that in my SPD cycling boots. Here is Alfie waiting patiently for me.

I cycled on 100 metres and found a side road which led to a huge windmill. And a slightly better view of the Förderturm.

Alfie and the Kastenbockwindmühle (windmill)

The windmill

It’s a historic memorial.

I loved the way the support for the mill came through the staircase. A staircase that you can wander up!

The view from the top of the stairs – Tönisberg is hill that appears out of an otherwise flat landscape (the guidebook calls it an Endmoräne which I think is something to do with where a glacier dumped all its contents when it finally melted at the end of the last ice age).



The view down from the steps.

Alfie and the millstone.

I left the windmill and cycled into Tönisberg which had yet another tall church.

This is looking back at the church as I made my way out of Tönisberg.

The route goes up to a place called Windberg (and it was windy!) and then turned north-east and started heading through some woodland. At first the path was OK, not asphalt but manageable if bumpy with ice-filled potholes.

But then it turned into a forest path which was very muddy.

I could feel grot getting flicked up inside my mudguards and it was very hard going. I was not impressed with the track and when it came to a main road and the route required me to go straight on through more off-road path I decided to sort out my own route on the main roads, so I did a detour to Neukirchen.

Look at the state of my hub gear!

There was so much mud in the cable run for the gearchange that the Alfine had a few hiccups in higher gears. I also removed a stick that was caught around the gear cable which did not improve its running!

The route curved round towards Rheurdt and the ridge of landscape (of which Tönisberg is the end point).

There were some good cycle paths alongside the main road as always.

A lot of the place names around here are Dutch rather than German. The general area (Kreis) is called Kleve which is Cleves of Anne of Cleves fame.

This building was another old railway station. No sign of the railway line now.

This is a common sight in Germany – a barn roof entirely covered in photovoltaics.

It’s a big industry in Germany although my chum Olaf wrote an interesting article about how the German solar industry isn’t as competitive as we think:
Olaf’s article

Now it was time to cycle back over the Endmoräne landscape hump thingy. This time it was what was probably an old route as it’s cut really deep between the trees. The concrete surface was a bit rough at times.

I zoomed down the other side heading north-west towards Aldekerk.

I just nipped the corner off Kerken, then turned southwards towards Kempen again.

I’ve seen a lot of these plastic figures to encourage people to slow down as children might be playing. The flag is a bonus addition though.

I zoomed down several miles through open farmland before finding myself in familiar territory to the west of Escheln, having crossed the A40 motorway on a bridge.

As I hadn’t visited a bakery yet today I decided to divert to Sankt Hubert to get myself some rolls for lunch. This involved crossing a railway and the crossing lights started flashing as I got there.

The train came through less than a minute after the barriers came down – pretty quick really!

I bought my rolls at Sankt Hubert and then returned home.

Statistics for this ride:
Distance – 20.63 miles
Moving time – 2 hours 14 minutes
Average speed – 9.17mph
Maximum speed – 19.44mph
Average heart rate – 116
Maximum heart rate – 160
Calories burned – 817
Total Climb – 277ft

When I got home I took Poppy out for a half hour walk. She’s clearly getting into the German spirit as she found, beside the road, a discarded plastic bottle that had been flattened. It’s unusual to find litter and she decided to pick it up and bring it home with us in order to tidy up!

Once back she flopped out on the rug whilst I ate my lunch.

After faffing around a bit this afternoon I decided it was time to go out to REWE (supermarket) in Kempen and return my beer bottles. These were the bottles of beer I had bought for James whilst I was in Mönchengladbach in December; they have a Pfand which is a deposit for the glass bottle – if you return the bottles to the supermarket you get a discount from your shopping.

Of course, the extra fuel used in bringing eight bottles back to Germany with me would probably offset the money returned but it felt like a good thing to do as the Germans do.

So I strapped the beer crate to the back of Alfie.

I cleaned some of the mud out of the Alfine hub gear cable zone and his gears were working fine again – there were some big clots of mud stopping the cable moving correctly.

And here is where I went, to the mini industrial estate with a REWE (supermarket), Lidl, FressNapf (Pet shop) and Getränkemarkt (booze supermarket).

Beer trip

I went first to REWE as I knew they would have a bottle return area, which indeed they did. I stuck all eight bottles in and got this back:

I bought a few groceries, using my discount of course, then went to FressNapf to see if there were any goodies for Poppy (nothing jumped out at me) and then I headed for the Getränkemarkt to refill the beer crate.

There were 11 holes in the crate for bottles of beer so I bought 11 different beers. Here they are in the trolley.

And here they are arranged in the crate on Alfie’s rack.

Time to head off home. I assumed the journey would be even more rattly than the way here – 3 miles of cycling with different-sized glass bottles in a plastic container isn’t exactly a peaceful experience.

A lot of choice of unleaded fuel here in Germany. Notice diesel is cheaper than in the UK – it’s even cheaper than that in the Netherlands.

I arrived home and enjoyed my toffee pastry thingie I had bought in REWE.

Statistics for this ride:
Distance – 6.39 miles
Moving time – 40 rattly minutes
Average speed – 9.45mph
Maximum speed – 15.08mph
Average heart rate – 120
Maximum heart rate – 159
Calories burned – 271
Total Climb – 60ft


  1. What a fancy beer crate with only enough room for 11 bottles rather than a regular 12! Pleased to see Poppy is doing her bit for the environment .

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