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Lahn canoeing – 1

February 28, 2019

Canoeing beside the Camino de Santiago

Wetzlar to Limburg (Click here for Limburg to Lahnstein)

The Lahn valley was once an important wine growing region. In the 17 century vineyards extended as far upstream as Marburg. Today, only two commercial ones remain, Obernhofer Goetheberg and Weinährer Giebelhöll, although abandoned ones are still visible at Dausenau and Nassau, and enthusiasts have recently been replanting at Runkel.

wetzlar to lahnstein camino

The distance boards on the bank measure from the historic border between Prussia and Nassau, a few km downstream of Giessen, but the river is canoeable from Marburg, 37 km above that point.

Click here for another account of the same trip.

WARNING – We made this trip in May 2015, and although I composed this blog the following winter, for some reason I never posted it. Perhaps I wanted to check the mileages or some other detail. Now I’ve forgotten. Please forgive errors.

9.5 km – Camping Wetzlar (click here). Car park and easy launch spot.

wetzlar campsite launch spot     DSC_0304

10.5 km – Railway and Wolfgang-Kuhle-Strasse bridges adjacent to each other.

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11 km – The beautifully curved E44 bridge.

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11.4 km – Brukenstrasse bridge. Weir below.  Canoe shoot right. Gentle slope. Easy.

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11.8 km – Arno Riedl pontoon footbridge (1985). Sculpture park, Old Town and Cathedral (Dom) left.

DSC_0320    DSC_0326      Wetzlar_Dom

The Cathedral of our Lady, at the start of the Lahn Camino de Santiago, has a statue of St James on the left of the door of the south tower.  The first stage of the camino heads south away from the river before turning west at Kirschenwaldschen to pass through  Nauborn, Laufdorf, and Solms-Oberndorf-Braunfels before rejoining the river at Weilburg. Generally the bank of the river was boggy and difficult going so pilgrims kept to higher ground.

Wetzlar to Weilburg camino

12 km – Old bridge with weir immediately after.  Portage on rollers right. Medieval bridge believed to have been built late 13th century. Defaced by fountains just below and a garish blue puppy dog statue on the bridge.  Don’t miss Restaurante al Camino (click here)

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DSC_0331   DSC_0343        DSC_0346

12.1 km -Road bridge


12.6 km – Suspension footbridge Muhlegraben


12.9 km – River Dill enters right


13.8 km – Railway bridge


16 km – Weir left. Lock Altenburg right channel.

schleuse altenburg     DSC_0362    DSC_0363

18.7 km – Albshausen left, Oberbiel right. River splits into three channels. Right to weir. Middle to hydro electric power station. Left to lock channel.

19 km – Oberbiel lock

DSC_0366    DSC_0373 DSC_0374

20 km Niederbiel lock.

niederbiel lock

Between here and Selters the river flows well with numerous tiny rapids and riffles.

20.5 km – L3283 bridge


23.5 km – Lahntours camping right (click here).

24 km – Footbridge and 12.8 km – E44 bridge


25 km – Brukenstrasse bridge. Leun right.  Some little rapids below.

DSC_0386    DSC_0384

The river leaves the Hessian mountains enters the Rhenish slate massif through which it will pass for the rest of its course.

26 km – Camp right after Leun Bivouac German style; toilet, shower and someone comes round to collect the fees about 6pm.

lahn Leun campsite

28 km -Railway bridge

railway bridge below Leun

29 km – E44 bridge


30 km – Biskirchen right. Look out for turtles

lahn biskirchen

34 (check) km -Sewage pipe bridge


35 km Selters left followed by

view from bank at selters

35.9 km – Lohnberg footbridge


36 km – Lohnburg weir and mill right. Lock left

Lohnburg weir and mill   lohnberg mill   Lohnburg lock

38 km -Ahausen bridge

Ahauser weg bridge    Ahausen bridge

39.5 km -Railway bridge. Weilburg right

railway bridge Weilburg  weilburg lahn

From Weilburg the camino follows the south bank for a mile or so before leaving to run over higher ground to the southwest until rejoining at Vilmar.

weilburg to limburg   weilburg to zeil camino

39.7 km – Weilburg tunnel left.  The distance markers on the bank follow the main river course.  So you save about 2km paddling distance by going through the tunnel.  The tunnel is large and airy and about 200 metres long.  The far end is visible as soon as you enter, albeit partially obscured by the lock gate at the exit. There is no landing stage above the lock so you have to climb directly up a metal ladder to work the gates. Fine for two in an open canoe but would be tricky for a single person in a kayak.

weilburg tunnel entrance   lahn tunnel entrance   lahn tunnel exit

Ignore main channel under 456 road bridge to weir, castle, old Lahn bridge.  Beyond that steel footbridge

Weilburg Oberlahnbrücke   weilburg weir castle and bridge     weilburg steel footbridge

41.5 km – Emerge from Weiburg lock at downstream end of the tunnel

ship and railway tunnel exits below weilburg

Bivouac campsite right bank opposite the tunnel.   There’s said to a plaque on the left bank marking the site of the crash of Zepellin Z II on 24 April 1910 (more here). I couldn’t see it from the river.

42247181  z2_web_a  z2_web_b

44 km – Footbridge (Odersbach right, Kirschofen left) followed by Camping Odersbach right (click here)

IMG_2436   odersbach reception   Camping-Odersbach (4)_large

45.5 km – Kirschofen weirs left (an unusual pair of weirs in series). Keep right for Kirschofen lock

kirschofen weirs

48 km – Camping Graveneck left Lovely site adjacent to old railway tower and sidings.

DSC_0402    DSC_0406   DSC_0394

DSC_0409      DSC_0399   DSC_0403

48.5 km – L3452 bridge


50.5 km – Furfurt town left. Followed by Furfurt weirs, another double set, left.  Furfurt lock right.

furfurt weirs   DSC_0412   DSC_0415    DSC_0414

Small rapids below Furfurt


42.7 km -Bridge.  Aumenau right.  Access right.

DSC_0427        aumenau lahn   aumenau from the cycle track

44.6 km – Railway bridge

DSC_0429    DSC_0430

47 km – Arfurt right

arfurt church

48.2 km – Camping Runkel right a bivouac site. Don’t confuse with the much larger Campingplatz Runkel near the mouth of the river at Lahnstein.

62.5 km – Unica quarry right, Marble bridge.  Followed by Vilmar left. Marble from the abandoned Unica quarry, now a museum (click here) was once a popular ornamental stone. It was used in the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the Kremlin and the lobby of the Empire State building

DSC_0439   DSC_0440   Villmar marble bridge

62.8 km – Weir. Power station left. Lock right.

DSC_0445    DSC_0449

The camino joins the river at Vilmar, and apart from a couple of short cuts follows the bank more closely now.

Vilmar to Diez

61.2 km – The precipitous limestone cliff left is topped by a stature of King Konrad 1st

DSC_0456     DSC_0461

65 km – Runkel. Slipway right. Wine making in Runkel, which had gone on for many hundreds of years, ended in about 1930. Over the last few years a group of enthusiasts have attempted to revive it. They’ve planted a vineyard  on the slopes directly opposite the campsite, and have produced a few vintages of Runkeler Roten or “Runkel Red”. More here.   To be honest I couldn’t see the vineyard at all in 2016.

Runkel red vineyard   Runkel red label

65.2 km – lock right. Weir left under Runkel bridge. The camino passes through Runkel

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53.5 km – Camping left after the bridge (click here). A popular canoe hire start and finish point.

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53.8 km – Steedener bridge

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55 km – Railway bridge



59.2 km – L3448 bridge. Dehrn right.  Marina right

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72 km – Burg Dehrn right

IMG_2452     IMG_2453

60.9 km – Kurt-van-der-Burg footbridge 1989. Dietkirchen, dominated by St Lubentius Basilica on the limestone cliff right. Site of a ferry since 11th century.  The small vineyard on the southern slopes below the Basilica, planted in 1998 makes Dietkircher-Lubentius-Ley, a sacramental red wine.

DSC_0496    DSC_0502  DSC_0506

IMG_2454 dietkirchener lubentius ley    DSC_0513

61 km – Emsbach stream joins left. The site of an ancient ford.

62.6 km – Intercity railway bridge followed by N3 motorway bridge, currently being widened.

DSC_0526   DSC_0532


64.6 km – Limburg. Cathedral left. Camping right (click here). Alternatively keep left and by the no entry sign, left bank  just above the weir, Limburg canoe club allow camping.  Small site, best to ring ahead.

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The camino which has been following the river on high ground to the south descends the hill in a zig zag and then goes straight up to the cathedral.

Keep right for lock channel.  Left another set of two weirs in series. Followed by Limburg bridge

Limburg 2nd weir      DSC_0547   DSC_0549

65 km – Limburg.

limbur to obernhof

For Limburg to Lahnstein click here.


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