Eder River Bike Tour
This tour of the Eder River Flats (Ederauen) from Lützel to
Guxhagen follows a path unknown to most tourist outside of Germany. It is a short
ride taking us only four days. It winds through a valley that is narrow at the top
and finally widens into one of the most fertile valley floors in Germany. It bypasses
a reservoir made famous during World War II. The path winds its way past red-tiled-roofed
villages and through a particularly picturesque area of Central Germany known as
Hessisches Bergland (Mountain land of Hesse).
August, 2000. This tour of the Eder River Flats (Ederauen)
will take you from Lützel (close to Erndtebrück and Kreuztal) to Guxhagen (close
to Kassel). This is a 4-day ride 93-mile (150 km) following the Eder River Valley
through a particularly picturesque area of Central Germany known as Hessisches Bergland.
Rick and Susan Burleigh, relatives of ours from Seattle, accompany us on this ride.
It is always fun to have another couple on the ride. When the party is slightly
larger, the experiences are more and the memories sweeter somehow. This tour is
The village we start in is off the main rail line so any train trip to Lützel
will undoubtedly require at least one train change. On your way here, watch carefully
for the stop at which you need to make that train change. In our case, the four
of us chat and do not paying much attention to where we are. As a result, we almost
get off one stop too early.
In Germany, you see, trains stop at small stations for only a minute or two at
the most. Those getting off move to the doors as the stop approaches then quickly
and orderly climb off as soon as the train stops. If you make a mistake and get
off early, the train will be gone by the time you realize it and you’re stuck. See
more about this and related subjects on my German Trains
Today, knowing that we are close so we get our bikes ready to depart the train
as it slows down. We keep up our conversation, thinking that we know what we are
doing. We have two bikes on the platform and two bikes in the process of being unloaded
(all within seconds of the train coming to a stop) and Maxa notices the sign at
the station is not what she expected. In German, she yells to the conductor several
cars away, “Is this Cölbe?”
“Nein, die nächste Station,” he barked back. We all understood even though three
of us don’t speak German. We turn on our heals and reload the two bikes back into
the train just in time to prevent antagonized stares from the conductor for slowing
the train. If we had slowed the train, who knows what would have happened to the
whole German railroad system with their Punktlichkeit would perhaps be
The sign for this route is a green icon of some distant hills with a meandering
river flowing from it. The route is overlaid on several “long distance” bike routes
that may have names like R-5, R-10, R-22, etc. Don’t be confused when these other
bike routes veer off in a direction different from that of the Ederauen
bike path. This route is reasonably well signed.
No one is perfect following bike routes though and if you get off the path, just
ask anyone, “Wo ist der Ederauen Radweg.” (approximate translation, "I
am lost, can you help me, by the way, your hair looks nice.") and you will
be given directions. Some of our most memorable experiences have come when we were
trying to find our way back to the path after taking a wrong turn.
The signage ends in Guxhagen close to where the Eder joins the Fulda River, However,
since that is a village without a major Bahnhof, we will end our tour in Kassel,
a few kilometers further down the Fulda.
There are many hotels, Pensions
and Zimmer along the route. Even Lützel, small as it is has two overnight
lodging possibilities listed in the back of the BVA map and guidebook we specify
below. While not as numerous as some resort and recreation areas in Germany, the
capacity of these accommodations is adequate to meet demand.
See our Overnight Accommodations
page for more detailed information on the Zimmer (advertised as Zimmer
Frei) that Maxa and I prefer and on Gasthäuser (Guest Houses),
Pensionen (pensions or bed and breakfasts), Jugendherbergen (Youth
Hostels), and hotels. We also discuss other issues about accommodations like advance
The most interesting stops are Bad Berleburg,
Schwarzenau, Frankenberg, and Fritzlar. The real pleasure of this ride is the scenery.
For a detailed map and guidebook we use the Ederauen-Radweg,
scale 1:50,000, published by BVA – Bielefelder Verlagsanstalt GmbH. There are other
maps such as BDR’s Deutsche Rad-Tourenkarte, scale 1:100,000, number 21 but the
scale is un-detailed enough to make it difficult to make it easy to navigate through
towns and cities. These BDR maps give useful information about the area in general
and a few of the towns on the map. The BDR maps also include helpful information
about biking in general. Personally, we prefer the smaller scale of the BVA guidebooks
as well as the bikeline series of guidebooks
Back to the top
Day 1: Lützel to Kapplermühle
Today’s ride will be short, only
17 miles (27 km), because of the train ride to the start point. If you want to stay
overnight in Lützel they do have a couple of accommodations. Right away, we have
to push our bikes up a long 260-foot hill near the Bahnhof only to drop
over 600 feet by the end of the day. There are several small hills between the three
or four larger ones. Not an easy day on the knees for the members of the Over-Fifty-with-Bad-Knees-Club
(of which you are automatically a member if you, like us, qualify). But we made
it and you can too.
We start our trip at the Lützel Bahnhof or train station, take
the road across the tracks to the south and begin the long, gradual climb up to
the springs that are the source of the Eder. The road is paved for the first three
Turning left off the paved
road onto a gravel path we see a wooden sign directing us toward the Eder Quelle
(spring). Hang on to your handlebars tightly – there are large stones on the path
that can sneak up and grab your front tire.
Here is another wooden sign
explaining that the spring itself is just a few meters off down the footpath. We
are bicycling not hiking – so we forego seeing the actual source of the river and
ride on. Just past the spring, turn left onto a smaller gravel path.
After dropping down 400 feet
in elevation over the last 4 miles, turn right off the pavement onto a gravel path.
This turn is signed but it is still easy to miss because it feels so good to stay
on the long gradual hill down the paved path.
We ride into Erndtebrück
looking for a coffee break.
After crossing a neat little
wooden bridge over the Eder, we leave the trail in Kapplermühle in search of our
room for the night. We follow R-45 signs toward Wingeshausen because we are told
that there are several guest rooms available there. The first Zimmer Frei
sign we see is booked for the night but the owner directs us up the 100-foot hill
to the home of Family Kroh. They have a lovely home with a great guest room and
a view overlooking the pastoral river valley. Today is Tuesday and it’s Ruhetag
(quite day) for most of the local restaurants. In the countryside, most public accommodations
are open weekends but at least one day a week they close for a day off. This can
be any weekday and usually it is somewhat coordinated so that all the restaurants
are not closed on the same day – apparently, the Kappelrmühle/Aue area
is the exception. Anyway, for our evening meal, we ride back down to the trail and
then 4 kilometers down the road to Grünewald. There we have a fine meal sitting
outside in the Biergarten. We watch the sunset before heading back to the
Back to the top
Day 2: Kapplermühle to Frankenberg
After one of the best breakfasts
we have ever had in a Zimmer, we bid Herr and Frau Kroh Auf
Wiedersehen and ride back to the Ederauen trail. Today’s ride is 45 miles
(73 km) and there are four hills in the morning but the ride flattens out in the
afternoon. Unfortunately, there are over 15 miles of riding on the shoulder of heavy-traffic,
primary roads. The shoulder is quite wide though and while this kind of riding is
not my preference, it can be done.
Of interest today is the Schloss at Bad Berleburg, the museum at Schwarzenau,
and the medieval town of Frankenberg.
At the trail in Kapplermühle,
I reset my odometer.
We ride past a Gästezimmer,
or a guest room. It is in the Alt Aue Restaurant. We were pleased with our accommodations
last night but if we had known about this place before we climbed the 130-foot hill
to the Kroh’s, we might have stayed here.
At this point, we choose to leave the signed bike path and
detour into Bad Berleburg. We want to see Schloss Berleburg and snag our morning
cup of coffee. We climb about 200 feet before dropping down into the town itself.
It is beautiful just like the guidebook claims. We skip the tour through the Schloss
but we do take our coffee at the restaurant across the street.
The Baroque Schloss was built in the 16th Century and later enlarged. Today,
it is a museum as well as a convalescent sanatorium and clinic are located in the
Schlossgarten. If you visit Schloss Berleburg, study the sundial on the side of
the Schloss. If you can figure it out, please send us an
e-mail. We are all college graduates (heck, Rick is even an engineer) but this
sundial has us stumped. We don’t know the purpose of the two posts on either side
of the dial and we can’t decipher what time it is either. That’s the purpose of
sundials isn’t it? However, as college graduates can do, we garnered the required
information from another source – straight up from the sundial is a clock. Quick
– aren’t we?
Bad Berleburg is an old community. It dates back to Celtic times during the Iron
Age, 800 years before Christ. The town was first mentioned in 1258 and it became
a center of commerce in the Middle Ages. Bad Berleburg has had several devastating
fires in its history; the last was 1825 when most of the 230 homes were destroyed.
Thereafter, the planners redesigned the town into what you see today.
Rather than ride back uphill to retrace our route into town, we take the bike
route signed as R-47 back to the bike Ederauen trail. The only downside is the heavy
traffic on this route. From the Schloss, ride downhill and turn left on Emil Wolf
Strasse and then right immediately after crossing the small creek (there is no sign).
Enter Schwarzenau after riding
over a 70-foot hill. This town has an interesting historical feature. In the early
18th Century, people from this community immigrated to Pennsylvania in the United
States. They hoped to escape religious persecution and find freedom to practice
their beliefs in Pennsylvania. Today the Church of the Brethren, a pietistic religion,
has over 1,000 congregations around the world. Annually, several members of the
Church of the Brethren conduct baptisms in the Eder River here where one of their
founders was also baptized in 1708. The community has a museum that explores this
religion and its beginnings in this area.
Both Rick and I are aging farm boys from Central Montana
so when we ride past an outdoor farm equipment museum we have to stop and look.
Enter Dodenau, a suburb
of Battenberg. Most people fail to make the right turn onto Ring Strasse at the
bottom of the hill. The turn is at the beginning of the hill and it is poorly signed
(there is a small “R-8” sign with an arrow just before the turn but it is too high
for most bikers to see). Good luck.
The path through this village is poorly signed – if at all. We rely upon the map
to guide us through town.
We enter Frankenberg in search of overnight accommodations.
However, it is a little late in the evening and Frankenberg has few Zimmer.
Tonight they all seem to be full so we check into one of the three hotels in the
center of the Altstadt (old town). Frankenberg is picturesque and the citizens
work hard at attracting tourists. The lack of Zimmer tells me that they
need to work a little harder. There are hotels for the business traveler though.
Even grubby bikers like us appreciate a nice hotel now and then, even if it is outside
Back to the top
Day 3: Frankenberg to Felsberg
Today we ride 48 miles to Felsberg.
It is a long ride and there are several hills, especially near the Edersee. There
are a few places before Fritzlar where one can stop but we set Felsberg as our goal
because of the quality of the restaurant there in the Alte Ratskeller.
Of special interest today are the towns of Fritzlar and Felsberg.
We start today at the Rathaus
in the Altstadt of Frankenberg.
We turn right in Ederbringhausen
and as we leave town, I note that the cool morning sun reflecting off the river
makes me think of diamonds floating on the water. We are riding through a forested
side hill just above the river. Rays of sunlight dapple the path and cause sharp
contrast on the leaves of this deciduous forest.
Enter Asel Süd
after riding on a secondary road (light traffic and a white stripe down the middle)
for the last 6 miles. The terrain has been rolling with two 70-foot plus hills.
There is a restaurant and a campground in this resort community.
up, the Edersee. A "See" is a lake, or in this case a reservoir
behind a dam used for electrical power generation. During the second world war,
four such dams were bombed using a technique called bounce bombing where the bombs
were dropped by low flying airplanes then they skipped across the surface of the
water to impact the dam, sink to the bottom, then explode. The operations was successful
from an Allied Forces perspective and a terrible catastrophe from the perspective
of the people in the village below the dam, over 70 of whom perished when the dam
burst. The Dam Busters is a 1955 film about this
mission, showing how the pilots trained and the a recreation of the bombing run
with Schloss Waldeck above the Edersee in the background. In truth, as opposed to
the fiction of the film, the loss of life was not as great as one might expect and
the disruption of electrical power was only felt for two weeks. The flood did damage
agricultural production in the Eder Valley near Felsburg and the mission was a political
and propaganda success. The dam was restored to efficiency in less than two years
after the May, 1943 attack. 40% of the airplanes did not return from the raid, and
many Allied lives were lost. Of the total of 1,760 deaths, over 760 were Allied
POWs working as forced labor down river from the dams. Real war is hell, not the
glory projected by the fiction writers.
We leave the Edersee just
before we get to Rehbach to follow R-5 signs toward Hemfurth and Affolderner See
(we will follow R-5 signs all the way to Fritzlar). From here, we climb 80 feet
then drop 260 feet into Hemfurth. Nice drop! However, stay in control because traffic
from the side streets can ruin your day if you go too fast.
Cross the Eder on the auto
bridge. Turn right on the north side of the bridge following the bike route signs
to Affoldern, Fritzlar, and Bad Wildungen. We’ll bypass Bad Wildungen but we do
ride through the outskirts of both Affoldern and Fritzlar.
This is the Affolderner
Dam and the 1150 year-old village of Affoldern. Further down the path, we stop and
allow a horse drawn wagon full of adults to pass us going the opposite direction.
As we pass, the driver tells us not to have any Angst about the horses.
He explains that the horses have already eaten one bicycle rider today and they
aren’t hungry anymore. (Everyone has a sense of humor.) They are headed for a picnic
we had seen setup in a meadow along the river. There were long tables covered in
white tablecloths with china place settings and silver service. On the tables was
a display of fancy German pastries with coffee. If the caterers had not guarded
it, we might have been tempted to stop and give some of the pastries a taste test.
After passing more campgrounds
at mile 29.2 and 35.7, we enter the outskirts of Fritzlar. Susan, one of our riders,
is experiencing some thigh burn so we look for refreshment in Fritzlar. The first
place we stop is closed for Ruhetag; the next is undergoing a remodeling
so we end up stopping at McDonald’s of all places. In all the years we have been
visiting Germany, this is our first visit to any of the American fast food establishments.
Well, we were experiencing a “sugar and fat” depravation emergency and where better
to get sweet and fatty foods than McDonald’s?
Fritzlar is well worth a side trip. Yes, you will have to ride uphill into town
but it is one of the prettier towns (of which there are many) in this part of Central
Germany. Quoting the English version of one of the pamphlets on the town, “The town
… now almost 1,300 year old, owes its origin to an act by St. Boniface, the 'Apostle
of the Germans' who, in the year 723, felled an oak tree, a holy shrine of the
Chatti tribe dedicated to the Germanic god, Thor. From the wood, … he built a church
dedicated to St. Peter and also founded a monastery.”
Fritzlar is a well-preserved medieval walled, city with modern industry and infrastructure.
Walk down Fischgasse and check out Spitzenhäuschen where the tourist information
office is housed. From there, look into the Cathedral (Dom) built, according to
some of the locals, on the site where St. Boniface practiced his forestry skills.
(You know, if I were a Chatti in 723 CE, I would not have been surprised that pagans
martyred the good saint a few years later. It probably was a little dangerous to
go around chopping down pagan shrines in a pagan land.) There are some excerpts
about St. Boniface from the Catholic Encyclopedia following this travelogue.
We have been following R-10 bike route signs for a mile or two in addition to
the R-5 signs. We leave R-5 in Fritzlar and continue following R-10 toward Felsberg.
Just after entering Waburn,
we find ourselves entering the parking lot of the Waburn Bahnhof. We zigzag around
the hedge to the left and ride out into the fields following the R-10 signs.
This is the end of today’s ride. We are at the intersection
of the Ederauen bike route and Steinweg (the main street through Felsberg). We ride
4/10th of a mile to the left to find the Alt Ratskeller, a nice Pension
where we spend the night. Their restaurant serves great food. The owners tell us
that the restoration of the Felsberg (the castle on the hill above us from which
the town takes it name) will be completed in 2001 and the community is planning
a huge celebration. The photograph on the left is a "Most von Bier" that
Rick bought me as a thanks for leading the tour. We only got lost twice.
Back to the top
Day 4: Felsberg to Guxhagen
It is a short ride to Guxhagen,
the town closest to the confluence of the Eder River and the Fulda River. From there,
you can catch a train into Kassel where one can make connections with trains to
all parts of Germany. You may also follow R-1 along the Fulda into Kassel (for a
travelogue, look at the end of the Fulda Tour. Today’s
mileage is 10 miles (16.4 km). The day is easy riding with only one hill at mile
We start the day following R-10
north to Neuenbrunslar.
Enter Neuenbrunslar next to
the bridge over the Eder. Turn left (do not cross the bridge) follow the R-10 signs.
Then turn right toward Wolfershausen.
After climbing a steep 70-foot
hill, turn sharp right off the road onto a bike path just where there is a small,
hard to see, wooden sign saying “Willkommen in Halldorf.”
Cross over Autobahn A-7 into
Guxhagen. When you get to Ellenberger Strasse turn left, following the R-1 sign.
You will pass a Zimmer Frei sign in 80 meters and just before you get to
the bridge over the Fulda, you will pass a Gasthaus.
This is the end of the ride.
You have just crossed the Fulda and are in downtown Guxhagen. Reiterating your choices,
you can ride to the Guxhagen Bahnhof and catch a train to Kassel where
you can make other connections. Or you can pedal into Kassel along the Fulda by
following the R-1 signs. The R-1 bike path exits Guxhagen on the right bank of the
Fulda just east of the bridge you just crossed.
What follows are a few of the
many paragraphs from the following URL: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02656a.htm.
These are the paragraphs I chose for my edification on the subject of St. Boniface
but there is quite a lot more there.
St. Boniface (WINFRID, WYNFRITH). Apostle of Germany, date of birth unknown;
martyred 5 June, 755 (754); emblems: the oak, axe, book, fox, scourge, fountain,
raven, and sword. He was a native of England, though some authorities have claimed
him for Ireland or Scotland. The place of his birth is not known, though it was
probably the south-western part of Wessex. Crediton (Kirton) in Devonshire is given
by more modern authors. The same uncertainty exists in regard to the year of his
birth. It seems, however, safe to say that he was not born before 672 or 675, or
as late as 680. [Ed: This last makes no sense to me.]
Descended from a noble family, from his earliest years he showed great ability
and received a religious education. His parents intended him for secular pursuits,
but, inspired with higher ideals by missionary monks who visited his home, Winfrid
felt himself called to a religious state. . . .
Boniface returned to Upper Hessia and repaired the losses which occurred
during his absence, many having drifted back into paganism; he also administered
everywhere the Sacrament of Confirmation. He continued his work in Lower Hessia.
To show the heathens how utterly powerless were the gods in whom they placed their
confidence, Boniface felled the oak sacred to the thunder-god Thor, at Geismar,
near Fritzlar. He had a chapel built out of the wood and dedicated it to the prince
of the Apostles. The heathens were astonished that no thunderbolt from the hand
of Thor destroyed the offender, and many were converted. The fall of this oak marked
the fall of heathenism.
Tradition tells us that Boniface now passed on to the River Werra and there
erected a Church of St. Vitus, around which sprang up a town which to the present
day bears the name of Wannfried. At Eschwege, he is said to have destroyed the statue
of the idol Stuffo. Thence he went into Thuringia.
Pope Gregory II died 11 February, 731, and was succeeded on 18 March by Gregory
III. Boniface hastened to send a delegation to the new pontiff, to pay his respects
and to assure him of his fidelity. The answer to this seems to be lost. In 732 Boniface
wrote again and stated among other things that the work was becoming too much for
one man. Gregory III congratulated him on his success and praised his zeal, in recognition
sending him the pallium, and making him an archbishop, but still without a fixed
see. He gave him instructions to appoint bishops wherever he thought it necessary.
Boniface now enlarged the monastery of Amöneburg and built a church, dedicating
it to St. Michael. Another monastery he founded at Fritzlar near the River Eder,
which was completed in 734. The church, a more magnificent structure, was not finished
In 738 Boniface made his third journey to Rome, intending to resign his office
and devote himself exclusively to the mission among the Saxons. He was accompanied
by a number of his disciples, who were to see true Christian life in the centre
of Christianity. Gregory III received him graciously and was rejoiced at the result
of Boniface's labor, but would not allow him to resign. Boniface remained in
Rome for about a year and then returned to his mission invested with the authority
of a legate of the Holy See. His first care on his return was the Church in Bavaria.
Charles Martel (Charlemagne) had died 22 October, 741, at Quiercy on the Oise and
was succeeded by his sons Carloman and Pepin.
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In Rome Pope Gregory III died 28 November, 741, and was followed by Zachary.
Carloman asked Boniface, his former preceptor, to a consultation. The result of
this was a letter to the pope in which Boniface reported his actions in Bavaria
and asked advice in various matters. He also stated the wish of Carloman that a
synod be held. In answer Pope Zachary, 1 April, 742, confirmed the erection of the
dioceses, sanctioned the holding of the synod, and gave the requested information.
The synod, partly ecclesiastical and partly secular, was held 21 April, 742, but
the place cannot be ascertained. The bishops appointed by Boniface were present
and several others, but it was mainly the authority of Boniface and the power of
Carloman that gave weight to the first German synod. Among its decrees the most
noteworthy are those ordaining the subjection of the clergy to the bishop of the
diocese and forbidding them to take any active part in wars, to carry arms, or to
Very strict regulations were made against carnal sins on the part of priests
and religious. The Rule of St. Benedict was made a norm for religious. Laws were
also enacted concerning marriage within the forbidden degrees of kindred.
A second national synod was held 1 March, 743, at Liptina in Hainault, and
another at Soissons, 2 March, 744. In this synod a sentence of condemnation was
passed against two heretics, Adalbert and Clement, the former a native of Gaul,
the latter of Ireland. They were strain condemned in 745 and also at a synod held
in Rome. Several other synods were held in Germany to strengthen faith and discipline.
At the request of Carloman and Pepin the authority of Boniface over Bavaria was
confirmed and extended over Gaul.
The rest of his life Boniface spent in confirming what he had achieved in
Germany. This he did by frequently holding synods and by enforcing the sacred canons.
He did much for true religious life in the monasteries, especially at Fulda, which
had been established under his supervision by St. Sturm, and into which Boniface
returned yearly to train the monks and to spend some days in prayer and meditation.
At his request Pope Zachary exempted the abbey from all episcopal jurisdiction and
placed it under the immediate care of the Holy See. This was something new for Germany,
though already known and practiced in Italy and England.
It seems that Boniface's last act as Archbishop of Mainz was the repudiation
of the claim of the Archbishop of Cologne to the diocese of Utrecht. The matter
was laid before Pepin, who decided against Cologne. The same decision must have
been given by Pope Stephen II (III) who had become the successor of Zachary, 26
March, 752, for after that time no further claim was made by Cologne. No change
was made until the ninth century, when Cologne was made an archdiocese and Utrecht
one of its suffragan sees.
Boniface appointed Abbot Gregory as administrator of Utrecht, and Eoban,
who had been [an] assistant, he took as his companion. When Boniface saw that all
things had been properly taken care of, he took up the work he had dreamed of in
early manhood, the conversion of the Frisians. With royal consent, and with that
of the pope previously given, he in 754 resigned the Archdiocese of Mainz to his
disciple Lullus, whom in 752 he had consecrated bishop, again commenced a missionary
tour, and labored with success to the East of the Zuider Zee.
Returning in the following year, he ordered the new converts to assemble
for confirmation at Dorkum on the River Borne. The heathens fell upon them and murdered
Boniface and fifty- two companions (according to some, thirty-seven). Soon afterwards,
the Christians, who had scattered at the approach of the heathens, returned and
found the body of the martyr and beside him the bloodstained copy of St. Ambrose
on the "Advantage of Death.” The body was taken to Utrecht, afterwards through
the influence of Lullus removed to Mainz, and later, according to a wish expressed
by the saint himself during his lifetime, to the Abbey of Fulda. Portions of his
relics are at Louvain, Mechlin, Prague, Bruges, and Erfurt. A considerable portion
of an arm is at Eichfeld. His grave soon became a sanctuary, to which the faithful
came in crowds especially on his feast and during the Octave.
England is supposed to have been the first place where his martyrdom was
celebrated on a fixed day. Other countries followed. On 11 June, 1874, Pope Pius
IX extended the celebration to the entire world. Brewers, tailors, and file-cutters
have chosen St. Boniface as their patron, also various cities in Germany. The writings
of St. Boniface which have been preserved are: "Collection of Letters"; "Poems
and Riddles"; "Poenitentiale"; "Compendium of the Latin Language"; "Compendium
of Latin Prosody"; "Sermons" (doubtful). FRANCIS MERSHMAN Transcribed
by Michael C. Tinkler The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II Copyright © 1907 by Robert
Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight Imprimatur. +John
M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
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