Perhaps not as famous as the Austrian Lake District in Stage 15 the route still visits some special places. The Gesause National Park, with its dramatic limestone landscape, looks particularly good (days 2 and 3) but so does the Hochshwab, another limestone range, and the Murztaler Alps, the last high altitude part of the E4.
Working out an itinerary has not been easy and it may still need some revision. Again I have had to use a German language guide without being able to speak or read German. The NordAlpiner Weitwanderweg 01 by Wurst/Rachoy/Messeritsch seems to be the definitive guide and forms the basis for the itinerary in Wikipedia. It goes from east to west however and doesn't always work the other way. Long days involving descent become longer days when your climbing.
The proposed approach to joining up with the E4 in Hungary is also very confusing. The route, using the 01, takes you to the Neusiedler See and then back again before heading south to the Austrian Hungarian border. Makes me tired even thinking about it so I'm cutting that loop off, heading south at Semmering, joining the 02 and then the 07 before crossing the border into Hungary. If your really interested there is a clever little graphic on the OEAV website which helps - I also have the Osterreichische Weitwanderweg map (1:800,000!) and Google Earth.
Anyway the net impact of all this is positive in terms of journey time. Instead of the 19 days proposed by Wikipedia I race to the border in 15 - could be in Hungary for the beginning of September.
The proposed itinerary is attached as a link.
After 2 tough days at the end of of the previous stage the first day of Stage 15 is a fairly gentle 6 hour walk to Admont, the gateway to the Gesause National Park and home to a famous abbey.
|Hess Hutte with Hochter behind|
Day 4 is a 20 km walk to the iron ore town of Eisenez - been mining iron for over 800 years.
Conserving height for another two days, Day 6 is a 17 km walk to the Voisthaler Hutte and Day 7 a 25 km to the hutte at Turnauralm. Leaving the Hoschwab range midway through Day 8 you drop down to the small town of Krampen, a walk of 31 kms but with a fall 700 metres.
Day 9 and it's into the Murztaler Alps, a climb of 1,200 metres over 31 kms to Schneealpen Haus. There is a more direct but less scenic alternative if an easy day is needed.
Day 10 and I'm proposing to go on past Karl Ludwig Haus (the recommended stop over) and press onto Wax Riegel Haus. The 01 has now split with a northern option carrying onto Vienna. Day 9 is a 28 km walk staying high all day.
|Karl Ludwig down to Wax Reigel|
Day 12 and I'm now making it up. My route leaves the 01, heads down the 126b and joins the 02 at Pfaffensattel. If I'm not totally lost I'd like to get to Monichkircken, a walk of 40 kms.
Day 13 and it's Landsee which sits in the middle of a Natural Park (with its own ruined castle) - a walk of around 30 km.
Day 14 and it would be great if I could make it to Koszeg, the first stop heading east on the Blue Countrywide Tour, the Hungarian section of the E4. Koszeg looks great (flat!) and will be a good place to stop and recover before the final journey to Budapest