For those of us without cars, travel can sometimes be a challenge. Here are two interesting industrial monuments, the Zeche Waltrop and the Boat Lift of the Dortmund-Ems Canal. Both are located in Waltrop, which is difficult to get to without a car, but this hike connects both with a tour of the fading post-industrial landscape of the Ruhr, as its being reclaimed by nature.
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.
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.
This is more of a niche hiking experience, but one that could still prove interesting from various perspectives. The route travels up and around several slag deposits from 19th and 20th-century mining operations. Once upon a time, this region was so industrialized that finding any kind of vegetation was challenging. Decades later, though, nature is slowly returning.
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.