Day 70 Thursday 9 august 1984
In a pine wood near Villach. Austria. Mountainous, rainy. 61km. Total 3996km.
Say good bye to the Austrian farmer and find trees to shelter us while we perform ablutions. The road becomes very steep, a narrow, gritty track and we watch the misty view below us through the pine trees. Part of the view is a strange three towered, walled grass enclosure, distant on a hillside, which we later come to, near Sorg.
We leave the cycles beside a tree and walk up the path. Inside the castle is a man divining for metal, he has come on a motorcycle which was also inside the castle. Fairytale views of churches perched on misty rockface, walls within walls, intricate windows, trees growing between stones. We buy milk at a surprising shop further on , and find a rugby field, views and benches all around it, so eat muesli, for breakfast.
We are at Feldkirchen for elevenses. Another konditorei of high standard, At the information centre we find out about Radwanderweg; cycle routes on small lanes, which we take, feeling privileged to be down in the quiet valley away from the traffic. We follow a stream, which goes to the lake; mist hangs on the tops of the ridges. We join a busy road along the Ossiachersee, and find a mown garden with bench and table beside the lake which seem open to us. So we set out our muesli on the table. The owner comes but is only worried that we might be camping and is interested in our trip.. Heavy rain falls as the muesli meal is ended; the trees beside the water give good shelter. Moorhens are enjoying it.
We travel on past campsites into Villach to buy supper, coffee and beer. Read the paper in cafes. I very much enjoy this – the weather forecast, any foreign news. We are rained on again. The road from Villach rises quite sharply between pines. To camp wild we find a secluded spot in the woods, just off the narrow road leading to Heiligengeist. A tree stump makes a flat place for the cooker, and the site is elevated above the road so that it seems to be an eyrie. A crackle of thunder echoes back from the opposite hillside. The rain begins in earnest. I think of Sweden where you are freely allowed to camp on farmland provided it is one hundred metres away from any house. A peculiar sour milk cheese is sampled, a transparent brown colour; it looks like a Pears soap, and has egg white in it. Most unpleasant.