Colston's School CCF Expedition 'Mullerthal Trail (Little Switzerland) 25th-29th October 2014.
From the start this was a strange one, a freak overnight stop in Luxembourg on a family holiday by the party leader Capt Cumine identified some beautiful walking terrain and stunning scenery. From then on it was Luxembourg you say? Why? Has anyone been there? Invariably the answer was no, followed shortly by where is it?
Not one to be put off we set to work on putting together an expedition with only 7 weeks from conception to departure. With a maximum personal contribution of £150 budgets were going to be tight, this was eased however by the generosity of the Ulysses Trust and a successful bid for CILOR.
The major concerns initially were would the walking be any good and could we afford to eat at £5.62 per person per day.
It was clear from research that no military unit had been to Luxembourg since 2007 and no one as far as we could tell to ever complete an expedition.
With 10 cadets signed up all that was left was to depart Bristol on a dark and wet Friday evening for the drive to Folkestone for an overnighter at St Martin's Plain before a 0815hrs ferry Saturday morning.
For the drive down from Calais on Saturday the word was rain, more rain followed by mist, then 50km out from our base in Larochette the skies cleared much to the relief of all and fortunately stayed that way throughout the expedition.
We base camped from Camping Birkelt a nicely maintained site with excellent facilities, heading out to complete the 35, 32 and 34km legs over 3 days.
Day 1 of the expedition phase was summarised by superb walking in wooded and open countryside in stunning T-shirt and shorts weather. With 29km of the route covered it was clear that doing the full 35km would not be possible before last light. Clear skies equals cold nights resulting in temperatures dropping to 1 degree overnight.
With a stiff start day 2 started with heavy mist, clearing by late morning. Having learned from the previous day and knowing we had slightly harder terrain ahead we decided to walk from Echternach to Condorf shortening the day to 25km. To say the scenery was stunning would be an understatement. Large cliffs, staircases cut into the rock, caves, streams to name but a few of the sights, day 2 turned out to be the group's favourite day. With the beautiful scenery came more challenging terrain and all found the 25km tough going.
Day 3, sadly our last day, we set off from the small town of Mullerthal the region's namesake to walk the 23km back to the Basecamp at Larochette via the beautiful town of Beaufort. Beautiful scenery again was the story of the morning but lunchtime brought some excitement. When you do your ML you learn about nature and group safety. Howeve, I don’t remember the section on wolves! Fortunately semi-tame and part of a film set we stumbled upon, I don’t know what presented more of a danger the wolves themselves or the cast of the German film telling the story of a man using LSD. After the excitement of the film set the long afternoon finished back at our Basecamp in Larochette.
All that was left was time for a dip in the pool, shower then out for a group meal. The 20 euros for a pizza and coke summed up what an expensive country that Luxembourg is.
The initial worries about walking conditions were dispelled immediately on setting foot on the hill, Luxembourg provides a fabulous wealth of walking in a compact area, clearly marked trails, good maps and stunning scenery as well as the easy drive from the UK, make it a firm favourite and will no doubt become an annual fixture in the Colston’s CCF Diary.
I would like to thank all the staff who attended, Capt Tom Richardson, Sgt (SSI) Richard Cain, SI Wilcox and Miss Linzi Williams for their assistance.
Capt Stuart Cumine
Colston's School CCF