Canoeing the Ruhr River
A couple of weeks ago; Our plans to paddle the Sieg River were aborted because the water levels were far too low. We decided to make a trip on the Ruhr because it has been dammed up and thus navigable.
From Fröndenberg to Schwerte
The source of the Ruhr is near the town of Winterberg in the Sauerlandregion, at an elevation of approximately 670 m. It flows into the lower Rhine in Duisburg. Its total length is 218 km. The Ruhr passes a couple of towns before it reaches Fröndenberg where we start. We intend to reach Essen, 80 km downstream, in 3 days
The 20 km from Fröndenberg to Schwerte is of great natural beauty with lots of birdlife. The Ruhr winds quietly through forests and grassland. There are 4 weirs with the inevitable portages. We camp out at the Kanu- und Surfverein Schwerte. It is an official Kanu Station of the DKV (German Canoe Federation) with facilities. We camped but there is also an apartment for rent.
From Schwerte to Witten
From Schwerte the river marks the southern limit of the Ruhr area, passing Hagen, Dortmund, Herdecke and Wetter. The Ruhr area was Germany’s primary industrial area during the early- to mid-20th century. Most factories were located there. Nowadays it’s still a very industrial area but its glory days are long gone. With a population density of 2,800/km² and a population of eight and a half million, it is the largest urban area in Germany, and third-largest in the European Union.
Urban area full of wildlife
Between Schwerte and Witten we cross two lakes, the Hengsteysee (± 4,5 km long) and the Harkortsee (± 4 km long). Although the area is so densely populated the surroundings remain remarkably natural. Rarely we spotted so many animals. From forest and pasture dragonflies (which indicates very good water quality) to masses of breeding waterfowl, coypus and even a snake. Again multiple weirs have to be taken. Only the last one before our stop in Witten has a canoe gully next to the weir which makes it much more fun. Canoeing the Ruhr River is realy fun!
From Witten to Essen
We spent the night at the Kanu-Club Witten on a beautiful green field. There’s also a very practical outdoor kitchen to cook a good meal. The last stretch of river we paddle takes us to the heart of the Ruhr area; the city of Essen. No portages this time but multiple canoe gullies. They provide for the necessary excitement. Especially the one in Hattingen. It’s 120 meters long, 6 meters wide and fast flowing with high waves. More fun is hardly possible when paddling such a quiet river.
After Hattingen more buildings appear along the banks of the river. It’s obvious were reaching the very center of Germany’s industrial heart. We spend the night at the very pleasant Kanu Klub Essen. Canoeing the Ruhr river turned out to be surprisingly beautiful.