Back in November, the weather got cold. Daytime temperatures were barely scraping up to freezing, and night time as low as -9. Everything around us was frozen (including the husband who was off out training). Upland, where the ski runs are, got a good covering of snow. We rubbed our hands in glee at the thought of some family time on the slopes , maybe the chance to try out snowboarding, and booked a hotel in the very pleasant resort of Willingen. By early December, the real snow had melted away but we were still hopeful. The snow makers would save the day! Or so we thought. Sadly, by last weekend the temperature was so unseasonably mild, even the snow makers couldn’t power into action and our hopes of festive family time on the slopes were dashed. But being people who like to make the best of things, and knowing Willingen has a lot to offer besides winter sports, we decided to go ahead and get away for a couple of days anyway. Sometimes you’ve just gotta roll with what comes your way, right?
One of the upsides of the mild weather was that the Summer toboggan run has been reopened. This was our first try on one of these, despite many years in Germany and I was a little apprehensive, but it turned out be very good fun. So much so, we went for a second run. I did the second run with the ‘Ski Sunday’ theme tune running through my head whilst pretending I was tearing up the luge. So. Much. Fun. You’ll find these ‘Rodelbahn’ rides all over Germany. Details of the one we rode here
In search of a winter-esque and festive activity to round off the day, we decided to go ice skating. This is definitely an activity that is harder than it looks, and I think gets harder to pull off the older you get. I had visions of myself skating with grace and style, but spent more time clinging to the edges and falling over. Our Little Chap had a penguin to hold onto to help him find his ice legs, and I am absolutely sure there is a market for adult sized versions of these. Well, it would have worked for me, anyway.
Despite the lack of usable snow (some of the man-made stuff remains but not sufficient in quality or quantity to get the slopes open) the mountains are still there and they are still beautiful and so we decided to venture up anyway. We took the Ettlesberg Seilbahn to the top of the Ettlesberg , about 830m up. The views across the valley on the ascent are beautiful.
Reaching the summit, we decided to go a little higher by exploring the Hochheideturm tower. At 875 m above sea level, this is the highest viewing point in North Western Germany. The viewing platform is (thankfully!) fully enclosed and offers a stunning 365 degree view of the surrounding landscape. There is also a glass tile set into the floor so you can experience the strange sensation of looking straight down.
Of course, what goes up must come down and we decided to walk down the mountain back into town. Well, the grown ups walked. The younger children decided to make the most of the snow that had iced up on the ski runs and slid much of the way….it was a bit like those clips from nature shows where you get to see penguins and seals and so on sliding about on the ice. But like I said, sometimes you just gotta roll – or slip and slide- with whatever comes your way.
Whilst enjoying our time in Willingen we stayed at the H+Hotel Willingen just outside the town centre. Part of the Ramada family, this charming hotel offered us a great value for money stay and the leisure facilities are fantastic. Find the hotel details here.
Have you ever planned a trip only for something to change or go wrong? How did you make the best of it? I’d love to know.