Prior to COVID-19, we traveled extensively across Europe year round. So much so that my wife Jules often lamented how infrequently we enjoyed the confines of our own home. With travel restrictions in place across Europe that is no longer a problem. In some ways we are now under house arrest.
Unfortunately, this time of year is not ideal for being under house arrest.
When the last rays of summer warmth dissipate into the brown and crumbling leaves of Autumn in November, the fog descends on Bayern like a cheesy 1980s horror movie set. Our little river valley in Deutschland can be a very foggy place. For days on end. With no end in sight.
Sometimes it takes 20 minutes driving to escape the fogbank. Sometimes it only takes a five minute drive to the hill upon which the A3 sits to see the sun that is shining above our foggy valley.
This particular Sunday was another day that was supposed to be sunny but turned into another fog filled day where the fog was never to burn off above our home. Sitting in my back pocket was a castle excursion plan that would take us east to the Czech-Deutsche border to what appeared online to be one of the more preserved castles in our area. Some time ago I discovered this great site for castle ruins in Bayern and needless to say, it will keep our family busy during our stay here in Deutschland.
The only thing holding me back from executing this plan was inertia. It was Sunday, a chill in the air that gets in your bones when it’s foggy and low 40s Fahrenheit, we ate brunch instead of breakfast, we were coming off a busy Saturday with events all day, and it was already 1300 which meant we had three and one-half hours of sun left in the day. Because this castle trip was a one hour drive each way that would only leave 90 minutes of actual time at the castle site. No, I am not a senior citizen incapable of driving at night. I simply prefer to drive during the day so I can enjoy the Deutsche countryside which reveals new insights on a daily level if you keep your eyes open (and the sun is still shining which allows you to see it).
At 1309 I told the kids to go the bathroom, grab some water and snacks and get in the car. And that’s what broke the inertia. My children. I know it’s hokey to say this but since they came into my life, my children have been the best influence. They remind me every day why it’s important to be honest, hard working, to eat right, and to exercise. Because our children mimic our behavior. I want my children to be constant explorers of life in every facet. I want them to get out of the house and explore every day, whether they are living overseas in Europe or in a small town in Oklahoma.
The drive wasn’t too exciting in the beginning as the drive closest to your home never is but after twenty minutes we emerged from the fogbank covering our area. It was actually something to behold. The fogbank was clearly defined and unmoving.
For folks living in Parsberg, the drive is 71 minutes. This is one of the times our geographic location was beneficial as our drive was only 55 minutes.
The area around Burgruine Kurnburg reminds me of the small hill communities you pass through when driving from the Edelweiss Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau without the snowcapped peaks in the background.
It was clear we were approaching our destination when we began to see cars parked not only in dirt lots on the side of the road but along the shoulders of the road as well. During our visit, the road to the parking area just below the castle was restricted due to paving so we parked in this field nearby.
What’s great about life is you can look at things two ways–either as opportunities or setbacks. Even though Eva complained about having to ‘walk further’ because of the paving, she instituted an immediate game of tag. This game of tag was next level because of the ditch that had been excavated while the road was being paved. This allowed the children to employ leaping/crashing into and over the ditch as part of the game.
After less than one half mile we found an area that appeared to be the normal parking area for the castle ruins and we turned into the forest and started the ascent. Because this was a sunny weekend day, the trail from where we parked to the castle was like an ant colony attacking your picnic–there was a steady stream of families and couples identifying the path forward. Had those folks been absent there was also a faded wood sign that clearly identified the path forward.
This castle hike was different than many others in our area in that there are extensive trails going in several directions on the castle grounds. Additionally, they have many items labeled with signs and plaques so that you can learn about the nature that surrounds the castle. This could have easily turned into a five hour excursion on the ground for our family. Knowing the sun was setting within two hours of our arrival we focused on the former fortress and headed in what appeared to be the most direct route.
The route from our car to the top was roughly one mile (but would be considerably less when the designated parking area is open). I say roughly one mile because of course Hunter, Eva, and Acadia rarely stayed on the trail. It was interesting to note the main trail is sunken significantly into the ground due to erosion–a telltale sign this is a very popular burgruine. With that said, the trail is fine for young children although strollers may be best used on an alternative trail that is a bit longer.
Just outside the fortress is a picnic table for snacking for those without COVID fears!
From the picnic table you can see one side of the former castle. The view is not imposing. However, once you walk across the bridge and enter the ruins your level of appreciation grows. The images online do not do this historic site justice. It is much larger, much grander than it appears online. Furthermore, it is more extensive. After entering the interior Eva and Acadia were off running and disappeared to a completely different section from where Hunter and I were exploring. For that matter, it did not seem crowded when we first arrived but were in the ruins with perhaps 15-20 other people.
We explored nearly every inch of the castle and stayed past our planned departure. We failed to walk along the perimeter of one side of the castle however we were the last individuals inside the castle, leaving at 1600.
Our total time at the site was 1 hours and 41 minutes with a total distance walked of 2.54 miles although much of that distance was accumulated running back and forth exploring the interior of the ruins. As I said, we could have easily spent half a day exploring the castle and surrounding trails. Additionally, I know both Hunter and I could have sat in the third floor stone arch for an hour watching the sun set in the valley below. Conversely if you are near this area, you could visit the ruins in 45 minutes if you are focused and the parking area is re-opened following paving completion.
For our family, we hope to return with Jules who was left home, regulated to work duties. As we drove away all three children chattered away about what we will do when ‘we come back with mommy’. A sure sign your children had a good time.
The pathway is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Total Walking Time Including Photo Time At Top: 1 hour 41 minutes
Total Walking Distance: 2.54 miles
Total Incline: 381 feet