Now the navigation challenge set by cycling down the Danube is not that great, particularly for a Geographer. Find the river- it helps that it is generally the biggest around – then find the path that runs along the river, and head off in the direction of the flow of water. Simple, any old eejit can do it. Yet get lost I did- headed off to a nearby town. But evidence that there is a God out there, for had I not got lost I would never have experienced the Mengen Street Festival. The town was crammed with revellers, stuffing their faces with all kind of food from a multitude of stalls. There was music from stage and street, and all sorts of family events. A favourite was the cow milking competition right in the middle of main street, where teams took turns to see who could milk the cow the fastest. I should add it was a life-sized plastic cow that was being milked, not a real one (don’t know if that makes it better or worse!). This was serious business. Being a keen observer of such matters, I saw there were two approaches used to different effect; there were the teat pullers and the teat strokers. And it seems the teat pullers won the day. I wonder, if the cow was asked would she have agreed?
Once back on track the route took me through rich farmland overlooked by charming towns and villages of wooden framed houses with red slate roofs, each village more picturesque than the last. It really was picture postcard stuff. But you couldn’t help notice everything was tidy and nothing was out of place. I’d say its not an easy place to live, specially if you are a messer.
The route followed small hard-surfaced roads and well maintained farm tracks, beautiful for cycling on. This is stork country, a delight to see their huge nests in farmyards; at one spot there were 10 white storks feeding in a field within 50m of the track. I also got close-up views of a green woodpecker and a red-backed shrike. It is always nice to see birds that don’t occur in Ireland, but generally this is a heavily managed landscape.
Close to Ehingen there were a series of lakes by the river. They mostly seem to be used for fishing, but some were left as nature reserves from what I could make out. They must be good birdwatching here during migration.
The last bit of today’s route was a dogleg upstream along the Schmiech valley to see as the guidebook says the ‘spectacular Blautopf blue lagoon, source of the Blau River’. We’ll see tomorrow if it is as spectacular as the guide book says ( ince bitten twice shy and all that). I stopped in Schmiech for the evening a few kilometres from the Blautopf. Schmiech itself is a lovely quiet village nestled into a small intimate wooded valley.
When I stopped I had cycled 97km for the day.