Stage 15 -Through the Salzkammergut

Although Bregenza, the starting point for Stage 14, is in Austria, most of the Maximilianweg is in Bavaria and Germany.  If you follow the sub-alpine variant it's not until you get to Salzburg that you start to walk through Austria in a sustained way.  I have walked in Austria three times (including the test run earlier this year) and it's very walking friendly.   There is a  really strong walking tradition, well marked trails,  lots of good fun places to eat and stay in the mountains, and because of long history of tourism (both winter and summer) lots of good value accommodation in the towns as well.   It shares with Switzerland a brilliant public transport system and is an easy country to travel in.

Have also stayed in Salzburg and Vienna and both are really interesting places.  Vienna in particular with its imperial legacy is fascinating.  Austria, which after all is quite a small country, has a capital which a hundred years ago was the centre of a huge and complex empire.  The empire has gone (almost overnight) but the imperial architecture remains.  

You could go via Vienna if you stick to the sub-alpine variant of the E4 but I have now just about convinced myself that going along the sub-alpine variant and then switching over to the Alpine variant presents the fastest way to Budapest.  You could held south from Salzburg but instead I plan to continue east to Steyrling and then head south for just a few kilometers (along the Osterreiche Weitwanderwege 09) until I hit the Alpine variant at Spital am Pyhrn.  

Stage 15 has two obvious highlights, Salzburg itself and Salzkammergut, the area often referred to as the Austrian Lake District.  I have walked in the Austrian Lake District and it was so wet (like the last time I walked in the English Lake District) that I was forced to take a trip down the famous salt mines - a legacy of the industry which gives the area its name.  Both Salzburg and Salzkammergut are world heritage sites.

Salzburg of course is the birth place of Mozart, the location for the filming of the Sound of Music and famous for its baroque architecture.   Will be a great place to stay for a day after two weeks or so on the Maximilianweg.

The Salzkammergut has a reputation for some of the best walking in Austria.  It has its own Cicerone Guide "Walking in the Salzkammergut" by Fleur and Colin Speakman and offers truly varied walking from tough Alpine to lakeside strolls.

The plan is to do the walk from Salzburg, through the Salzkammergut, and down to the Alpine variant in 7 days. The total walk is 180 kms, with 5,500 metres of climb.  Most of the days are fairly easy although I'm planning to do a 12 hour, down hill all the way day.  The last day to Hinterstoder is very short so it will probably make sense to carry on along the Alpine variant of the E4 to the next stop.

The walking looks excellent.  Day 1 involves a climb up the Gaisberg, a mountain close to Salzburg and apparently very popular with the locals.  End of the day accommodation is at Faistenau, which looks like a small ski resort.  Day 2 involves two lakes, Fuschl am See and Wolfgandsee (via St Gilgen) and then up to the spectacular Schafberg.   Day 3 is a nice short walk down to a lake side stop at Wiessenbach am Altersee followed by a steep climb up to the Rieder Hutte on Day 4, again set in a spectacular location.  Day 5 is the long day with three lakes, Traunsee, Offensee, and finishing at Alamsee.  Day 6 involves a walk to Preisegg and then down the valley to Spital am Pyhrn where I can join the Nord Alpenweg 01 for the next stage which takes me to Hungary.

The proposal schedule can be found via the link.

Fuschl am See

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