Over hills and valleys into the Ruhr area
The white St. Andrew's cross points the way from Winterberg to Duisburg, from the source of the Ruhr river to its confluence with the Rhine.
The Ruhrhöhenweg (“Ruhr heights trail”) winds along over 240 kilometres, from small beginnings to a large ending, as it were. From the small towns and villages in the Sauerland region, it follows the river course to the metropolitan cities of the Ruhr area. Over ten stages of between 20 and 27 kilometres each, hikers can enjoy the beauty of nature in the Ruhr valley and find out more about the cultural and industrial history of the state along the way.
However, anyone wanting to tackle the whole route should put in some training. The altitude difference along the way is more than 11.300 meters. The individual tours are also ideal for an extended day trip, however.
The first stage, for example, leads from the “Wald als Wirtschaftsraum” (“forest as industrial area”) activity station on the Rothaarsteig, past the estuary of the Neger, an 18-kilometre river that flows into the Ruhr, to the Kneipp spa town of Olsberg, where some “pedicare” might be needed after a hard day’s hiking. The viewing platform on the Ehmsen monument in Arnsberger Eichholz, which was built in 1897 in honour of the founder of the Sauerland region mountaineering club, Ernst Ehmsen, offers a wonderful view out over the Ruhr valley at Arnsberg.
The old town of Arnsberg is also worth a visit, with its classical Neumarkt square and the Resurrection church built in 1825, and just a few kilometres further, the Neheim synagogue, which is regarded as being the best preserved in Westphalia.
The Ruhr area gets closer as hikers pass through the Lennebergland and Elsebach valley regions. The first stop here is the Hohensyburg castle in Dortmund, with castle ruins, Kaiser Wilhelm monument, Petersbrunnen fountain, Fincketurm tower, church - and casino.
At the second-to-last stage, hikers finally spend the whole day in the Essen area, strolling through the Steele gardens with their art nouveau hall, enjoying the view of the Baldeneysee lake or visiting the Villa Hügel built by Alfred Krupp, with its 28-hectare landscape park (“Hügelpark”), before the hiking tour ends where the Ruhr flows into the Rhine - just behind the largest inland port in the world, in Duisburg.