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near Simonshaus, Nordrhein-Westfalen (Deutschland)
This attractive tour takes you on various Bahntrassen, former railways converted into cycling paths, between the valleys of the Wupper and the Ruhr, and also includes cycling paths on the Ruhr river. See the excellent website http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/ for more information on the cycling paths included in this tour. This tour will take you through tunnels and across rail bridges, through hilly countryside in the Bergisches Land, along the Baldeneysee and the Ruhr, and through the picturesque Düssel valley. The Bahntrassen are characterized by gradual ascent and descent, and the Ruhr valley is flat, making this tour relatively easy with only a few climbs. One stretch (13 km) of the Kohlbahn Bahntrasse is paved with finely crushed stone (‘wassergebundene Decke’), which I found quite easy to ride on a racing bike, and there is another stretch of 800 m of similar cycling path near the finish. The rest of the cycling paths are paved with asphalt. Some of the cycling paths on the Ruhr could be inundated at high water. All the way along the Ruhr you cycle through surprisingly quiet riverscapes. All the cycling paths can be crowded with joggers, hikers, skaters and other users; the cycling paths on the Ruhr are narrower than the Bahntrassen; be careful.
The track starts in Vohwinkel, and first takes you on a short stretch of the Korkenziehertrasse to the end station of the Wuppertal suspension railway, a unique train with hanging cars (see e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuppertal_Suspension_Railway). From here you enter the Nordbahntrasse, a recently paved stretch of railway through Wuppertal, very popular with joggers, cyclists and skaters. You pass through 4 tunnels and over two viaducts with good views of the city. After 13 km you enter the Kohlenbahn, another Bahntrasse which takes you all the way to the Ruhr at Hattingen in 21 km. The first stretch has recently been asphalted, but after the Schee tunnel at Alter Schee station, the cycling path is paved for 13 km with wassergebundene Decke, a little less solid than asphalt, but ok for racing bikes. In Hattingen you cycle to the Leinpfad on the Ruhr, another cycling path directly on the Ruhr which initially flows free but is later backed up by weirs. The cycling paths on the Ruhr take you past Dahlhausen to Essen. There is a stretch of slippery cobblestones on a bridge near Hinsel. Past Essen you follow a series of cycling paths a bit further from the river to the Baldeneysee, a popular reservoir with sailing boats on the Ruhr. You cycle past the Baldeneysee on another Bahntrasse to the reservoir dam. From the reservoir you cycle on close to the Ruhr on other cycling paths to Kettwich. Here you cross the river, and cycle through town to the recently paved Panoramaradweg Niederbergbahn. This cycling path starts with a steep scramble to get on the railway track and then slowly climbs from 75 m after the scramble to 265 m near Wülfrath, and then descends a bit into the Düssel valley. The Bahntrasse is a bit more than 22 km. The railway viaduct at the start is nice as well as the view near the top in Wülfrath. After this cycling path you cycle on several mostly small roads through the valley of river Düssel. You pass the village of Düssel, and climb out of the river valley at Schöller to get some good views of the rolling countryside before descending on a short stretch of semi-paved cycling path to the Vohwinker Strasse which you follow back to the starting point.
Quite a few former stations on the Bahntrassen have been converted into cafés or restaurants, and also on the Ruhr there is ample choice of places to eat and drink.
In Schöller you climb away from the Düssel valley with nice views of the valley and surrounding countryside.
Here you enter the former Ruhrtalbahn along the Baldeneysee. There is a bridge across the reservoir here, but you turn right along the reservoir. See http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw3_04.htm?w for more information.
This cycling path takes you along the Ruhr and on a bridge across a river branch. You can see a mine on the other side in Überruhr-Holthausen
Here you enter a cycling path along the Ruhr which is badly paved at the start, but otherwise good quality. There were a lot of people rowing on the river here. There is a railbridge close to Kettwig.
From here you cycle for about 5 km through the quiet Düssel valley. The Düssel is the small river after which Düsseldorf is named. A bit further downstream the valley is called Neandertal, famous as the finding place of the first Neanderthal.
Here you enter the Grugaweg, another Bahntrasse. See http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw3_05.htm?w.
Here the Nordbahntrasse is replaced by the Kohlenbahn another Bahntrasse. See http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw4_05.htm?w. The first part is new asphalt and takes you through the Schee tunnel to Alter Schee station. From here the cycling path is paved with wassergebundene Decke.
Here you are still on the Kohlenbahn. Waypoint placed to add some more pictures of the Kohlenbahn including the tunnel at the end.
From here the cycling path is semi-paved (wassergebundene Decke). The quality is good enough to ride on a road bike, maybe a bit slower. This whole stretch is downhill.
Here you enter a stretch of the Korkenziehertrasse (corkscrew route). This cycling path ends at the end station of the Wuppertal suspension railway, a unique train with hanging cars (see e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuppertal_Suspension_Railway). See http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw4_08.htm?w
Again you cycle close to the Ruhr. The water level here is quite high compared to the cycling path.
Here you enter the cycling path next to the Ruhr. Near Hattingen the river is free flowing while it backed up by a weir near Dahlhausen.
Here you are at the highest stretch of the Niederbergbahn near the Dieselstrasse with good views.
You change railtracks in Wülfrath. The last short stretch of the Niederbergbahn takes you past the young Düssel. See the website http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw4_03.htm?w for more information.
Here you enter the Nordbahntrasse with 4 tunnels and 2 viaducts. This stretch has recently been asphalted and is wide and very popular. See http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw4_06.htm?w
Here you enter the Niederbergbahn. See http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw4_03.htm?w for more information. You cycle for a total of more than 22 km on this cycling path. Near Wülfrath you change to another railtrack, but the cycling path is still called Niederbergbahn. The track has only recently been paved and is excellent with good views at the start and near Wülfrath.
Railbridge on the Niederbergbahn.
Here you find the not so high reservoir dam of the Baldeneysee.
Here you cross the Ruhr in Kettwig. The old town center is close to the bridge.
Small stretch (800 m) of semi-paved cycling path. Difficult for me to see the path through all the autumn leaves...
Here is a little bridge with cobblestones on both sides that can become slippery. Watch out. You enter another stretch of former Ruhrtalbahn, see http://www.bahntrassenradeln.de/details/nw4_04b.htm?w.
Here you pass the station Wuppertal-Loh on the Nordbahntrasse. Starting here you have various good viewpoints across Wuppertal, especially from two viaducts.