Also known as the Koenig Ludwig Weg or King Ludwig’s Way. The eccentric Ludwig II succeeded to the throne of the then independent kingdom of Bavaria in 1864, as a youth of 18. On 13 June 1886 he and his physician Dr Godden were found dead in the water of the Starnbergersee (Lake Starnberg); the question still remains - Did Ludwig fall or was he pushed? He was a strong swimmer and a post-mortem established that he did not drown. But no one has succeeded in unraveling the mystery. The Koenig Ludwig Weg starts at the Votivkapelle (shrine), which marks the actual spot on the lakeshore ( near the hamlet of Berg) where the bodies were found. The route ends 60 miles away near Ludwig's own fairy tale castle at Neuschwanstein. This walk, which is one of the favourite longer walks in Germany, links places particularly dear to King Ludwig who was himself a keen walker. It is not a mountain walk and much of the route is on farm tracks and country lanes, but the surroundings are delightful, with a host of splendid buildings to admire in magnificent settings and plentiful opportunities to stop for refreshments! The plains surrounding Munich give way to gentle rolling hills that become ever higher as one approaches the great wall of limestone that marks the start of the Alps proper. The route passes two of Bavaria's most scenic lakes and through charming villages of geranium bedecked chalets with typical onion shaped church spires. There are masterpieces of baroque architecture, the Andechs monastery, the wonderful cathedral of Diessen on the Ammersee Lake; the monasteries of Wessobrunn and Rottenbuch, as well as the Wies or 'Meadow' church are on the route. The highest point (988m) on the walk is the summit of Hohenpeissenberg hill, considered by many to be the finest viewpoint in Bavaria. We end our tour at King Ludwig II’s most famous architectural masterpiece- the castle Neuschwanstein and at the nearby castle Hohenschwangau, both in Allgau on the Austrian border, where Ludwig spent most of his childhood. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of King Ludwig II (in 1995), the route was extended to begin at the Votivkapelle in Berg. It is a popular walk so early booking is recommended.
Each day stage involves approximately 15 to 25kms (9 to 16 miles) walking, which can be shortened by using taxis or in some cases by the use of public transport. Much of the walk is on gravel tracks or quiet asphalt lanes, but there are also long stretches of footpath. The traverse of the Ammerschlucht (Day 4) can be difficult in wet weather but it can be bypassed by taking an alternative route. At least 50% of the route to be on tarmac road approx.. The rest is mingled between good forestry tracks, wide gravel paths and only occasionally on muddy single trail (the gorge section for example)
Make your own way by train to Starnberg. This small resort town is attractively situated by the Starnbergersee (Lake Starnberg), with views up the lake to the distant Alps.Those arriving early can take a boat trip to Leoni on the first afternoon and walk the first 7 km/4 miles of King Ludwig's Way back along the lakeshore via Berg where a chapel overlooks the point in the lake where King Ludwig was found dead to Starnberg.
Accommodation: The chosen hotel dates from around 1850 and many of the spacious rooms, now all fully en-suite, retain original features such as inner and outer doors. The hotel is unclassified however is equivalent to at least a 2 star hotel. Our alternative hotel in Starnberg is more modern however the ensuite rooms are less spacious.
On occasions such as the annual Munich Oktoberfest in late September and early October accommodation in Starnberg may be fully booked well in advance, but in this case we may be able to provide alternative hotel accommodation in the delightful lakeside village of Leoni, which is only 1 km from the start of King Ludwig’s Way at Berg. Leoni has a ferry service from Starnberg, so it is possible to reach; however if the ferry is not operating you will need to take a taxi from the S-Bahn station in Starnberg for the 7 km/4 miles to Leoni.
From Starnberg you walk through the well wooded Maisinger Schlucht (Maising Valley) to the Maisinger See (Lake Maising - a wetland nature reserve). Stop at Andechs, this world famous pilgrimage church was originally built in 1420, and rebuilt in the rococo style in the 18th century. The tower rises high above the hills overlooking the Ammersee. The church belongs to Andechs Monastery, and you will have an opportunity to taste some of the monastery’s own traditional dark and potent 'Andechser' brew. You then walk down through the woods to Herrsching, another deservedly popular lakeside resort, on the eastern shore of the Ammersee, where you can relax at a cafe while you wait for the ferryboat across the lake to Diessen; a nice way to round off the day.
Accommodation: There are 2 hotels that we use here, depending on availability, both 2 star properties. The first is in the village centre in an older building that has been extended in traditional style. Rooms are ensuite with a balcony. The second a modern-style, low-rise building on the lake shore, has its own large garden and offers seasonal specialties.
The longest day’s walk of the tour, much of it level although with a steep ascent and descent near the end. You start with an opportunity to visit the baroque cathedral (Marienmuenster) in Diessen before walking through the forest and across meadows to Wessobrun monastery. An opportunity for lunch at a wayside Gasthof in Wessobrun. Continue via St Leonhard-im-Forst with a fine village church to the summit of Hohenpeissenberg hill (988m/3241 feet), the highest point on King Ludwig's Way, with its splendid views. On the summit are a pilgrimage church, an astronomical observatory and a café with a scenic lounge. Then a steep descent across haymeadows to Unterbau to overnight. Walking time does not include sightseeing stops.
Accommodation: A small 3 star Gasthof (Pension) in a rural setting 1.5 km/1 mile from the village centre. It is on the lower southern slopes of Hohenpeissenberg hill.
Not a long walk, but traverses the wildest landscapes of the tour. From Hohenpeissenberg village you descend into the depths of the romantic Ammerschlucht (Ammer Gorge). The main trail through the Ammerschlucht is a delightful mix of forest and riverside walking in a steep sided valley. There is also a longer alternative climbing high above the valley. Rottenbuch's Augustinian Abbey, formerly a Stiftskirche (now a Pfarrkirche – parish church), was originally a Romanesque basilica dating back to the 11th Century. It was extended in gothic style and between 1730 and 1750 it was decorated in the rococo style. The jovial nature of the style is seen in its decoration with cherubs. Overnight at Rottenbuch.
Accommodation: At or near Rottenbuch - Our first choice is a small 1star hotel right by the historic gateway of Rottenbuch itself. Rooms have en-suite or private facilities. Downstairs is a cafe popular with day visitors for 'coffee and cake'. Evening meal is available at two nearby restaurants in the historic square of the monastic village close to the celebrated church. Our second choice is a small country hotel in a farming hamlet 1.5 km/1 mile from Rottenbuch. All rooms are fully ensuite and some have a balcony. The hotel has its own large enclosed garden and heated outdoor swimming pool. There is also a 'Wintergarden' (conservatory) for guests' use. This hotel has its own restaurant for your evening meal.
Carry on to Wies (also known as Wieskirche), which boasts Bavaria’s most beautiful Pilgrimage church, built in 1745-54 under the supervision of Dominikus Zimmerman. The name means 'meadow' or 'meadow church', and the incongruously surrounded by hay meadows. After lunch at the conveniently situated Gasthof you continue along the base of the densely forested Alpine escarpment to the prosperous village of Trauchgau.
Accommodation: Our hotel is located near the village of Trauchgau. It offers an amazing panoramic view. The hotel has large comfortable rooms, TV, swimming pool, sauna and steam room. There is no official rating but it is equivalent to a 2 star rating.
The final day’s walk takes you via the Pollath gorge to the castles of Neuschwanstein. Descend to Hohenschwangau castle and the Alpsee, before walking on to the historic town of Fuessen where you overnight.
Accommodation: For two nights stay in a very comfortable hotel with a 4* rating is situated in this historical old town. The hotel is conveniently close to the train station for your departure.
A day to explore the town of Fuessen and its beautiful surroundings. Easily accessible are a large number of walks and excursions, including the Tegelberg, a high level wonderland for walkers at 1800m, reached by cable car. Also close to Fuessen are the beautiful Alatsee and Alpsee (lakes), with delightful circular walks. You can also take a boat trip on the Forggensee or nip across the border into the Austrian Tirol (only just over a mile away, even closer from Alatsee or Alpsee).
After breakfast, make your way to the train station for your onward journey.
The route instructions were excellent. An excellent trip and walk. Thoroughly enjoyable with good accommodation, food and scenery. All accommodation and arrangements worked perfectly - no problems at all.
P. Copsey, East Sussex, UK, 20 Jun 2016
Per Person, Twin Share