May 2023

Hochstadel, 2681 m

From my childhood I remember that, in addition to the fact that such places were inhabited by various more or less interesting creatures, it referred to very remote and generally inaccessible places. The kind that one tends to think of as not even knowing where it is, rather than that it is around the corner. Kötschach such for example. It lies to the west, past Hermagor and Tropollach (a place for Nassfeld) and if you look at the map, it’s soo empty all around

The distance from Villach seemed too ambitious as for the beginning of the bike season, so I decided to take a little train rid to the village of Kleblach-Lind, which is about a ten-minute train ride west from Spittal and der Drau.

Train station building Kleblach-Lind

By the way, and naturally belatedly, I found out about a weekend/holiday ticket promotion – an all-day one costs €11, or €16 with a bicycle, and you can scoot all over Carinthia.

So I got off in Kleblach and hit the road. Time for roadbike today, so I couldn’t quite use my favorite Drautalradweg route, which I’ve already described.

Resting point

However, there was little gravel on this section, so once again I was able to enjoy beautiful views and a pleasant ride on excellent surface.

Wonderful emptiness

Passing Dellach, that is, after less than 30km of cool cycling along the bike path, I had to turn off onto the public road. Despite the fact that this is the main route between Spittal and Lienz, there is not much traffic there. Instead, there those are picturesque views.

After 5km, I turned off the road to Lienz to begin the ascent of the pass. This is my first major wall this year; 370m up for about 6km. Very serpentine, as you can see:


At times it was steepy, fortunately not so steep as to be too harsh. I was winding along unhurriedly, perhaps a little too warmly dressed, but soon after all the descent was to come. There is some kind of pub on top of the pass, campground, hotel – nothing really special. Except for the road surface, which really sucked here. And the views, which actually never suck here.


I stopped for a while to pull in a bun and pozzle before the descent. 5km down, with a fantastic panorama.

That’s how I got to Kötschach, a very charming place where almost no one was there and nothing was happening. On a daily basis, Kötschach – Mauthen (that’s the full name) has about 3,000 residents, but today it may have been too early for them to show up. At one time, precious metal ores or lead were mined in the area. The second part of the name, „Mauthen”, comes from the word „maut,” meaning fee, duty. Whether it was charged for the ability to exhibit at the market (set up in 1524). Or for the ability to pass through the pass, this I simply do not know.


In any case, Kötschach is a nice town for a rest, whether a short one on the way or a longer holiday. The area is full of less traveled trails, an ideal place for someone who doesn’t like crowds.

Church square

After a short rest I moved on. The weather was still fine, and of course the views were as well.

Rzeka Gail

A very pleasant and mostly already flat route paddles along a paved bike path. It’s more than 80km from Kötschach to Villach, and I was just worried to make it in time before forecasted storm. However, when I hungrily stopped for pizza near Presseger Lake, the rain caught up with me. Here a little digression, if you (like me) like pizza with mushrooms, it’s worth making sure they give you fresh, not canned. Here I got canned, and to my indignation I was told „that in our country, in Austria, they do that”. Which of course is not true, this is only the second place where such barbaric practices are used. So I recommend that a place called Zeitwirt’s be avoided from afar.


After this questionable culinary experience in the rain, I rushed on. However, the clouds were gathering blacker and blacker, and I finally decided to end the trip in St Stephan/ Gail and again take the train. I had more then one hundred on the clock already, and I didn’t want to catch a cold.

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