Day 6 – Back to nature

Just downstream from Neuburg there is a large nature reserve- mostly woodland, but with open heath areas too. I spent the morning here, aimlessly cycling along paths deep inside the nature reserve. At one stage the track narrowed to just a dirt track along a river channel, so I definitely got off the beaten track. Met a photographer here who looked like quiteness and seclusion were what he was most seeking, but while he did tell me kindly that he was trying to photograph wildlfe, I suspect my trundling through his demesne at that time disturbed hours of precious set up time.

In one open area, called the Jeckl-Brenne biotope, I spent some time searching out butterflies. There were plenty of marble whites, map and dark-green fritillary, as well as the usual whites, blues and peacock. Was delight to see (and identify) short-tailed blue butterfly, a new species for me.

I stopped for a break and while sitting there I saw both black and great-spotted woodpecker and was serenaded by a golden oriel, nightengale and cuckoo.

In the afternoon much of my route took me along the top of the flood dyke constructed often as part of the dam network. At this point much of the Danube has massive dams every so often, giving you a sense of just how important it is for electricity generation. The dykes are great for they give you a great view of the river and the surrounding landscape. The sloping banks are also well drained and full of wildflowers, so there is always something to see. A constant companion is the Banded Demoiselle – they are everywhere within flight of the river. I did have my first encounter with a snake as it slid away in front of my bike – I know I should cherish all wildlife equally, but I really would perfer not to get too up close a personal with them. I also got a bit too close to a young family of greylag goose and the parents let me know in no uncertain terms to feck off and leave them alone.

The higlight of the afternoon’s trip was a short boat trip down the Donaudurchbruch, where the river flows through a rugged gorge with no road. This provided great views of the gorge, while eating a currywurst mit pommes! And it was an effortless way to get to Kelheim.

I decided to continue to Regensburg for the evening, another 30km or so, to get to the nearest camping site. Regensburg is familiar territory for me, for I spent a week here learning German shortly after I got married, so that I could understand my new in-laws. Actually, so that I could speak to my in-laws; as anyone will tell you, you need to be equipped with more than a common language to understand in-laws!

Had covered 119km by the time I rolled into Camping-AZUR that evening.