Ruhr walk – between wild romance, industrial culture and thoughts

Ruhr walk – between wild romance, industrial culture and thoughts

Once again, we ended up in the Ruhr area for some time, more precisely at the campsite at the Ruhr Bridge near Essen.

Since the Ruhr cycle path passes directly on the other side of the river and is easily accessible via a cycle or pedestrian bridge, it is an ideal location to explore the cycle path network and of course the local hiking routes. Yes, because these actually exist. To say it straight away: the Ruhr area certainly cannot be compared with a southern beach holiday due to its existing industry, its sometimes-chaotic traffic volume and its multicultural residents with their typical customs. Nevertheless, there are idyllic corners that you wouldn't necessarily expect in the Ruhr area.

Integration – playful approaches or wrong policies?

ruhr wanderung 02And to say it right away, because these days it's all too easy to be pushed into a right-wing corner, which is really not our spectrum. But it's sometimes quite violent, which is reported by open-minded residents when you take the chance for a longer conversation. We were amazed at a huge green area that had been transformed into a large barbecue area by an even larger number of visitors, which actually doesn't have to be a problem. Thousands of visitors from all parts of the Ruhr area came especially to spend May 1st there. A registered large rally? No, not at all. Just like that. “I have no idea where they all come from,” said our interlocutor. Smoking barbecue fires as far as the eye can see. Of course, it is more likely to be rejected for environmental and health reasons, not to mention the waste after deducting the “thousand”. Lack of tolerance on our part? Is it just an oriental tradition? Adaptation or integration, never heard of? Not a trace! Isn't it also a physical nuisance to local residents when they try to make their sometimes-difficult contribution to environmental protection? Not to mention the effort involved in cleaning, the damage to the environment and also to the grillers themselves. Is this the freedom so praised? If so, shouldn't it apply to everyone? Misunderstood liberalism, as in so many areas of our country.

ruhr wanderung 03Actually, it's not our profession, such an excursion into social politics, but sometimes it's good to shed light on the background of why there is this right-wing spin in our democracy, which ultimately only leads to further curtailment of our fundamental rights. Anyone who is calling for a caliphate here, as was the case in Hamburg a few days ago, should please leave the country as quickly as possible and present their demands again in their original “homeland”. We'll see whether that's as possible there as it is in our democracy. Integration means adapting to the living and everyday situations of your “host country” or your “new home”, which also means at least partially foregoing your own traditions. And not the other way around. The same principle also applies to European travellers abroad, with the difference that they tolerate and accept the customs and rhythms that are common abroad and do not continually demand further adoption of European customs. In complete contrast to many of the new residents living here. But now back to the Ruhr!

Footpath along the Ruhr to the Railway Museum

ruhr wanderung 08A partly narrow path leads up the Ruhr along the banks of the Ruhr, which we followed to the railway museum. Partially overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, there had been a few breaks in which we observed animal life and vegetation. Whether it was the numerous wild ducks, the magnificent swans and the greylag geese that settled in large populations, cormorants and coots were looking for food in the still quite cold Ruhr, nature was in full spring mood and the first greylag geese chicks had already arrived. Numerous nature conservation and FFH areas in the Ruhr Valley offer animals and plants a really good basis for life. Many other species breed on the Ruhr and its reservoirs, such as the grey wagtail, kingfisher, grey heron, dipper, mallard, Egyptian goose, Canada goose, sand martin, great crested grebe, little grebe, pond rail and coot. The black stork feeds on the upper reaches of the Ruhr. Various species of ducks, black-headed gulls and other bird species can be found resting, especially in winter. Until 2015, the goosander was only in the Ruhr to overwinter. In 2015, the first two broods were found in Arnsberg and since then it has been a breeding bird in the Ruhr. But wait, almost hidden in the bushes, the first bather who had at least briefly climbed into the river bed.

Further stations on the Ruhr

ruhr wanderung 06At Harkortsee, the Ruhr makes a striking arc around a foothill of the Ardey Mountains before finally flowing further through the southern Ruhr area. In Bochum, the buildings of the Ruhr University stand on the heights above Lake Kemnader. There has been a bridge over the river near Hattingen for centuries, which was long used by the Hilinciweg. It was not until 2002 that a new bridge was built in almost the same place towards Bochum.

From Dahlhausen to Essen-Steele the Ruhr turns west, then flows southwest again around Essen-Überruhr through Lake Baldeney, affecting Essen-Werden, which with its monastery was an independent imperial abbey until 1803 and became a city on August 1, 1929 Essen belongs, and turns back to the northwest behind Lake Kettwig. Kettwig has a historic half-timbered core. Kettwig's Ruhr Bridge was first mentioned in a document in 1282. The southern districts of Essen lie along the Ruhr over a length of around 30 kilometres.

ruhr wanderung 07Today the Ruhr has an important economic significance in the supply of drinking and industrial water to the Ruhr area, for which the so-called Ruhr Association is responsible. The Ruhr is also of great importance in energy production. In the 19th century, the Ruhr was at times the busiest waterway in Germany. Currently, freight traffic only takes place on the last twelve kilometres of the river between the Mülheim Rhine-Ruhr port and the Rhine. The Ruhr Valley has therefore become a local recreation area for the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.

As we approached the old railway bridge, we saw a very brave bridge jumper who had climbed up to risk jumping into the cold water from a height. Only later did we find out that these were professional divers, dressed in neoprene and using sites that were more than 5 meters deep. Still brave.

ruhr wanderung 04We cross the Ruhr over the pedestrian and cyclist bridge and make our way back. Wide green spaces here make the use of the areas on the Ruhr impressively clear: a protected area for drinking water production. However, clear traces of the floods and flooding can still be seen, which happen again and again despite the damming by Lake Baldeney and Lake Kemnader with their immense retention potential.

It's a shame that so many people still don't understand the importance of the region for the population and therefore for themselves. How else can the rubbish left behind on the edge of the bank and flotsam in the river be explained.

Please read as well:

Cycling hike to Wiehe with a stopover at St. Ursula

Busking – a little stopover at the port of Marseille



Life | Outdoors