Highline 179 – Austria
During our recent trip to Germany where we were camping in Schwangau, Bavaria, about 10 minutes away from Neuschwanstein Castle, we had made plans to take the train and cable car to the top of the Zugspitze Mountain, the highest point in Germany at 2962 metres. We had hired a car and when we started planning our route to get there realised that the quickest way would mean dipping into Austria…boy were we in for a treat…the scenery on this route was absolutely amazing! It turned out to be a trip full of surprises.
We travelled south from Schwangau past Fussen along the route of the Lech river, then as we were approaching the border with Austria I caught a glimpse of an opening and the river to our right “What’s that?” I stopped pretty sharply and pulled into the parking area and we set our eyes on the first of many surprises of the day! Lechfall is where the river flows over an 18th century dam ladder then into a beautiful gorge!
There is a cool bridge which crosses the river here so you are able to get a really cool view over the river and into the gorge, you can continue your walk into the woods on the other side of the river as well, we didn’t stay for too long though because we were still eager to push on to get into the mountains.
We crossed over the border into Austria and the views really began to open up…couldn’t get The Sound of Music out of my head…never even seen it! We took the B179 and continued on our way, the road was pretty cool running between a cliff face on one side and a steep hillside the other, then I caught a glimpse of something which crossed above the road over us. “What the hell was that?” It had to be some sort of bridge but we couldn’t quite figure out exactly what it was. We pushed on further into Austria and the scenery just got more and more breathtaking.
We found ourselves in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena…another place added to the list we were going to have to return to and explore more…this was scenery straight from a movie scene…this kind of scenery doesn’t really exist does it? We were both awestruck by the beauty of the area. We were determined though not to get drawn away from our goal for the day though so we continued and had a brilliant time at the top of the highest peak in Germany! Look out for my post on this part of the trip in the future.
Whilst there we had a coffee and some cake in a cafe/restaurant with the best views of the mountain scenery and I took my phone out…pretty surprised I still had some internet reception. That bridge was still in the back of my mind…nagging at me…I needed to find out what it was…were we missing out on something? I retraced our route on Google Maps and found Highline 179, that must be it! A pedestrian suspension bridge linking the Ehrenburg ruins with Fort Claudia…sounded interesting…the website (www.highline179.com) described the bridge as being at a vertigo inducing height where visitors can test their head for heights! Sounds really interesting! After taking on The EdgeWalk at the CN Tower in Toronto and standing at the top of cliff faces overlooking the fjords in Norway, although these activities were by no means easy and without fear for me I was pretty confident that this would be an enjoyable experience rather than a massively challenging one. I showed my fiancee the website, she wasn’t as optimistic as me about it…always has a more realistic view of these kind of things! We agreed to go and take a look though on the way back.
There is no mistaking that this really is an incredibly beautiful place, and we were so lucky that we had bright clear sunny skies whilst we were there which made it an even more enjoyable experience. When we parked the car and actually took a moment to look up at the bridge…that was when he first nerves kicked in! Just driving under it, passing under it hadn’t given us the full scale of the thing! Over 100 metres off the ground and nearly half a kilometre long, anchored in on either side of the crossing….it’s an amazing feat of engineering let alone anything else! What a great idea for someone to come up with though, and so brilliant that they actually went through with it and did it! I felt the nerves and thought to myself stay positive, once you let that negativity in that’s when you make it harder for yourself!
We got our tickets at the self service ticket machine and I was really surprised at the price, 8 euros for adults, 5 Euros for kids??? I was expecting nearer the 20 Euro mark, this is brilliant value!
We began the walk up to the start point, it’s a fairly steep walk, and in the heat I worked up a good sweat! But it was a pleasant walk up the hillside through the trees with some nice views across to the other side, there were information posts as you went (a nice excuse for a breath catching break!) which tell the stories of local legends and myths. We passed the ruins which had restoration work going on whilst we were there, but its a very pretty spot, plenty of people were taking the chance to have a bit of a picnic and a drink here, although it really wasn’t crowded at all.
We stopped to look across and to take some pictures “I’m not sure about this” Katalin said….neither was I but I wasn’t going to let on! “It’ll be fine, we’ve done the EdgeWalk!”. We scanned the tickets at the gate to let ourselves into the entrance point of the bridge and looked across. The view from one side to the other is awesome, but it really set in then just how long the bridge was, I allowed those first negative thoughts in, the “What if” thoughts!
We began the crossing, and my legs went completely to jelly! What made it worse was that the floor of the bridge is like a metal grid, I couldn’t look down! Then it moves! Being a suspension bridge I guess the design has to allow for a certain amount of movement. Honestly I couldn’t let go of the rail at the side…this was up there with the most frightened I have been doing something like this…for some reason I found it even more of a challenge than hanging over the edge of the CN Tower 356 metres up just supported by a rope. Katalin was making all kind of noises panicking saying she didn’t want to do it, she didn’t know if she could. We got a bit further out so we were almost over the road and I had a weak moment…”I don’t know if can do this” Katalin said “Shall we turn back?”…I contemplated it, then thought how gutted I’d be if I gave up and didn’t do it now we were there…we decided to carry on.
Katalin is really funny in these kind of challenging situations sometimes, she decided that the only way she was able to do it was by holding her phone up and watching it through the screen on her phone…then it didn’t feel so bad! I had my sights locked on the far end of the bridge and was taking small steps but could not let go of the rail! I couldn’t even really taken any photographs except for holding my phone in one hand doing it! I noticed that there were quite a few people just walking along as if it were any bridge in the world, usually going in the opposite direction!
When I did take a second to look at where I actually was, it was breathtaking! What an awesome part of the world!
We carried on and eventually got to the other side and had a break. Katalin was wondering if there way another way down, she was not keen on going back across the bridge, I was a little unsure, but having gone across it once I was pretty certain going back would be easier and more enjoyable and I might even be able to get some better pictures! We chilled out for a bit and took in the views back across the crossing and of the area, it really was amazing.
There were gliders drifting around silently in the sky whilst we were there, what a brilliant place to have a hobby like that! There were a few people doing the same as us here, chilling out taking in the scenery, there is a really cool viewpoint here as well. I’m not the biggest selfie fan in the world but I couldn’t resist the urge here!
We decided that both of us would go back across the bridge, we were both so happy that we did! On the way back I was like a different person and I had so much fun, I could of stayed on that bridge for hours!!! I was stopping putting live videos up on social media, taking photographs, I didn’t realise that Katalin had gone all the way across and I was on my own!!! I was so wrapped up in it this really was an awesome experience in one of the most beautiful places!
WE were both so happy we had stumbled across this and so pleased that we had pushed ourselves that little bit, it was a great experience, fantastic views, unique, and we found it quite rewarding as well, the place is even open till 10pm and is lit up for night crossings!…if you are ever in the area…or even nearby…make the trip out to B179 near Reutte, Austria….and turn back when you pass under that bridge!! It is an experience you will never forget!
You can check out some more reviews and some cool photographs over on TripAdvisor as well.
As always…thanks so much for reading…hope it’s fuelled your need for adventure! Happy Travels!