A Pilgrimage on the Way of St. James from Speyer to Hornbach
When thinking of the Way of St. James, a certain longing resonates. One goes in search — not only of the real way but also of relaxation, new ideas, life, of oneself.
“Wanderer, there is no path. The path is created by walking.” (Antonio Machado)
The most famous section is the 800 km long Camino Francés. It leads from the Pyrenees to the tomb of the apostle in Santiago de Compostela.
But also less known and shorter sections are worthwhile. So on a gloomy October day, I set out on the road from Speyer to Hornbach.
I decided to take the southern route. This leads in 6 stages from Speyer via Germersheim, Landau, Bad Bergzabern, Bruchweiler-Bärenbach, and Eppenbrunn to the Koster Hornbach. Shell symbols at the wayside show the direction as a trail marker.
First stage: Speyer — Germersheim
My way starts in the cathedral of Speyer. It is the city’s landmark, visible from afar, and was built between 1030 and 1061 by the Salian Emperor Konrad II. The intense energy that one can feel inside the building spurs my mood and gives me a new boost of motivation.
Through the pedestrian precinct, I then walk out of the city past the memorial church.
In keeping with my buoyant mood, a few rays of sunshine come out. The further I leave the houses behind me, the calmer my thoughts become.
Along the arms of the Old Rhine, I reach Germersheim after 19 km. There I first marvel at the massive fortress and then go to my hotel. For the overnight stay, I have chosen the Germersheimer Hof, located in the middle of Germersheim’s historic old town.
Second stage: Germersheim — Landau
Today I follow the beautiful Rheinauen cycle way for several kilometers in the direction of Hördt. I make a small detour to the Sonderheim brickworks, which is now classified as a historical monument. There are several old locomotives and in the former engine shed a fascinating natural history exhibition of the animal and plant world in the Rheinauen.
I will stay overnight at the Parkhotel Landau, a cozy hotel located directly at a beautiful park, the Schwanenweiher. After the distance of 35 km, I will feel my feet — first of all, a hot bath.
Third stage: Landau — Bad Bergzabern
With a severe muscle ache, I start today in addition to that thick fog. My motivation is at rock bottom. But already after the first steps, my mood brightens up. Since the fog has disappeared in the meantime, I can enjoy an impressive panoramic view from Kleine Kalmit. The Kleine Kalmit is with 271 m, the highest elevation in the Rhine Graben. I continue through the vineyards until I reach my hotel in Bad Bergzabern after 21 km. From my hotel Pfälzer Wald I take a short walk to the Renaissance castle.
Fourth stage: Bad Bergzabern — Bruchweiler-Bärenweiler
The fourth stage begins at the Kurpark and leads along a Kneipp nature trail. It then continues steadily uphill to Erlenbach. There the path leads me past Berwartstein Castle, built in the 12th century. Afterward, I continue uphill through the Palatinate Forest. In the forest, there is a feeling of heavenly peace. Only the chirping of the birds. I notice how the silence spreads inside me, too, and breathe the fresh, spicy air.
Only the last 1.5 km is downhill again, and after 19 km, I reach Bruchweiler-Bärenweiler. There, a quiet evening awaits me at the Hotel Felsengarten.
Fifth stage: Bruchweiler-Bärenbach — Eppenbrunn
Today the weather is not suitable for me. Dark clouds in the sky and constant rain accompany me. It goes through the forest, but as soon as I arrive in Fischbach, the sky clears up. In Ludwigswinkel, I make a detour to the barefoot path. This is elaborately laid out and offers ten stations. There is a lot of variety from forest soil and tree bark over a sand bed with elements for balancing, wood, sand, moorland soil, concrete, a stream bed, and grass.
The trail continues past the marble lake and up a steep path, the Eselsteig. After 25 km, I reach the Hotel Kupper in Eppenbrunn.
Sixth stage: Eppenbrunn — Hornbach
The Way of St. James leads directly past the hotel, so I set off straight away after breakfast. After a short time, I reach Hilster Mill. I continue through the forest and over meadows and fields. From time to time, I stop again and again to enjoy the views. After 24 km, I arrive at my destination, the Hornbach monastery. I make a detour to the Pirminius Chapel, which was built in 1957 as a memorial site.
The Hornbach monastery was founded in 735 by St. Pirminius and is now a hotel and museum. Here I also stay overnight.
A beautiful path where you can find peace and yourself. I got many ideas in the silence, which I recorded in the hotels in the evenings. The duration of six days was ideal for me. The preparation is effortless: you can plan well for six days, and your backpack will not be too heavy. You can also choose and book the hotels in advance. April to October is a suitable season.
The signposting of the paths is sometimes a little sparse. Therefore you better have a map with you.
It is a somewhat different way to take a vacation. I have never been so relaxed and clear in my head after a holiday.