An Autumn Walk

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Walking in Germany

An Autumn Walk in Muenster

Going out for a longer walk or a hike at this time of year can be a bit of a problem. Once you have taken into account that you sleep a little bit longer (because staying in a warm bed can be pretty tempting when it’s still dark outside), that it takes you longer to get going (than in May or June when you wake up to birdsong) and that you will, as a consequence, take more time to finish your breakfast, you will find that the earliest time when you can be at the trailhead for your autumn walk is after twelve – when you have perhaps a maximum of three or four daylight hours left.

Plus there is the weather, of course: “being surprised by bad weather” in the summer translates into “running for cover in a sudden downpour”, something you can easily laugh off.

In winter, however, being drenched to the bone is much less fun. Apart from the fact that “bad weather” can mean four inches of snow. Ice on the roads or rails. An evening spent on a draughty platform in Palookaville waiting for a train that does not come.

Which is why the motto for successful winter walks is:

Keep it short, keep it urban.  At least, if and when the downpour arrives, there will be a pub nearby to seek shelter in.

In that spirit, we are inviting you on a daytrip to Münster, a historic town, roughly an hour by train from the Ruhrgebiet, Germany’s industrial heartland, but a town with a totally different flavour, which is why many people from the Ruhr love to go there for a day out, mainly for some historic sightseeing, museum visits and shopping.

Münster is a great place for walking, too.

We start at the city’s central station, cross the busy road in front right into Windthorststrasse (leaving the hotel on your right hand side) and continue straight past another set of traffic lights before turning left into the Promenade, …

"Start of the Promenade in Muenster for an autumn walk"

… Münster’s old city wall that was converted – way back in the 18th century – into a tree-lined walkway around the Old Town. You are now on the Promenade’s busiest section – the town’s pedestrianized shopping zone lies a few blocks behind the trees on your right hand size – which doubles up as a cycling ringroad for Münster’s many university students. But if you were to continue to complete the full circle (which is roughly 5 km long), you would find stretches where you are almost totally alone.

"along the Promenade in Muenster for an autumn walk"

We leave the Promenade as soon as we are catching sight of the Aasee lake and head straight for the Giant Pool Balls, made by the American artist Claes Oldenburg for the very first Sculpture Project show in 1977. (This exhibition takes place every 10 years, and some of the world’s most famous sculptors have shown their works here including Richard Serra, Rachel Whiteread and Joseph Beuys).

"Giant Pool Balls by artist Claes Oldenburg in Muenster Aaseeon an autumn walk"

From here, you can start on a walk around the lake – up to the bridge that you see in the distance – that would take you between 90 minutes to 2 hours. We would have done it had it not been for the rain. Honest. (We’ve done it before, under better conditions, and it’s a very nice walk, peaceful, tranquil and quiet, at least on an ordinary working day.)

"Further into the walking path along the Aasee of Muenster NRW on an autumn walk"

Alternatively, turn right around the lake and right again before the small footbridge into the Philosophenweg, the “Philosopher’s Lane”, so called because it was here where – so it was said – the professors from Münster’s old university looked for a quiet moment of contemplation, away from their books. (At the time, there would have been a garden and later the City Zoo on the other side of the pond.)

"The Philosophenweg in Muenster on an autumn walk"

Continue straight, returning for a brief stretch to the Promenade, until you reach Münster’s Castle, …

"Muenster's Castle seen from behind"

… the residence of the city’s “prince bishops” in the 18th century and nowadays the administrative HQ of the local university, one of Germany’s largest. There is a nice garden in the back of the building, partly used by the university to accommodate its hothouses and its collections of domestic as well as exotic plants.

"The Muenster Castle seen from the garden"

When you leave the garden through the side gate, you can already see the steeples of Münster’s two main churches, St Lambert (the tall one) and the Cathedral (the shorter, much older ones) in the distance.

"St Lambert church and the Muenster Cathedral seen from the castle gates"

Pubs, shops, restaurants with heated interiors – all awaiting you, a little more than 10 minutes away on foot. A, frankly, irresistible combination on a wet and miserable day such as we had.

And during the festive season, you can wrap up your day with a visit to one of Münster’s scenic Christmas markets

"Stand in Munster Christmas Market selling hand-made candles"

… for a bit of atmosphere and a glass of mulled wine. After a couple of hours in the wind and the rain, it will be like manna from heaven.

"Muenster Christmas Market stand offering Gluehwein"

Just what Santa Claus ordered, in fact.

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