While I think the town of Schwerte doesn't quite live up to its reputation as a "well-preserved old-town," it sits above one of the prettier parts of the Ruhr valley. The heights here are full of forested vales, gullies, and dramatic viewpoints.
Hiking: The Ruins of Hohensyburg
According to legend, Charlemagne built a fortress to challenge Saxon rule in Westphalia. Here, a Saxon army was defeated and chased to the North Sea, where they were slaughtered. The ruins of the castle date to the 13th century and would have been administered by Ministerialen from Cologne.
Hiking: Forests of the Upper Ruhr
For a river as industrialized as the Ruhr, it still has its beautiful parts. As you follow the river into the Sauerland, it takes on a more pastoral character. This hike travels between the towns of Wetter and Witten through some of the forested pastoral landscape that has characterized the Ruhr valley for the past thousand years.
Hiking: Castles of the Ruhr
This hike follows the heights along the Ruhr as the Rhineland transitions into Westphalia. The primary destination is the ruins of the castle Blankenberg, but the hike also visits the many viewpoints that the heights provide. It ends at a lesser-known lowland castle, Kemnade Castle.
Hiking: Sauerländischer Schweiz
This hike is an alternative route in the highlands above Hattingen and Langenberg. This hike gives you a panorama of the traditional Ruhr landscape. The hike starts and ends in Langenberg, which along with Hattingen, form the best-preserved historical towns in the region. Exactly which region, though, might depend on who you ask. Historically, the town would have belonged to the County of Mark, and thus the hike takes place in the Sauerland, a region of Westphalia.