2023: Walking at OSCAR in the Swabian Alb
Tuesday 12th September
Walking group 2 consisting of the leader Werner Ruckwied and 38 other participants set off at 9:30 a.m for the approx. 10-kilometre walk. There were also 3 Jumeleurs from Ulm. First we went downhill from the Sonnenmatte and then through the village of Erpfingen to the town hall and the guest's house.
We walked out of the village uphill on an asphalted path, which was overgrown with bushes on the sunny side, so luckily we were still walking in the shade. Those who wanted could climb a hill to enjoy a beautiful view. Later we passed a large field of sunflowers. From there you could already see the upper part of a large Ferris wheel of the Traumland amusement park, situated next to the Bear Cave. Then we went downhill on a path through fields and finally on a forest path up to the bear cave. This cave is a stalactite cave that owes its name from the numerous cave-bear skeletons that were found in it. Many of the participating walkers visited the cave, where several skulls and bones as well as a restored bear skeleton can be seen. As the temperature in the cave is 8 to 10°, you had to dress warmly. For our lunch break, we could sit down on numerous benches or on the „Pausenplätzle“ at the kiosk. In the afternoon we took a different route back to Erpfingen. We were sweating quite a bit in the humid air and also since there was no shade. . We took a break at Café Möck before we walked back up to the Sonnenmatte,. The Black Forest cake was popular here, but unfortunately there wasn't enough for everyone. Gertrud from Stuttgart gave the disappointed Philippe from Lille her piece of cake, which he gratefully accepted. In the meantime, the sky was getting darker and the rumble of thunder could be heard. When cycling group 2 arrived at Café Möck, most of the walkers left the café because they wanted to arrive dry at the Sonnenmatte.
Irmi Corbet / association of Darmstadt / Germany
Walking to Lichtenstein Castle ( walking group 1)
Was it a bad omen that the bus that was supposed to take us to the starting point of our walk came from the wrong direction? Our group of 18 people with our guide Werner Schmid arrived at the Ruoffseck stop. Werner first led us through shady forest paths up to the treeless Wackerstein with a great view of the landscape deep below us. However, the sun burned hot from the sky and we fled back into the shady forest. After a short break at the Nebelhöhle we came to a road with a signpost to Lichtenstein Castle.
And that was when the first mishap happened. A four-person advance guard chose the road as a direct route to the castle in the blazing sun. The rest, led by Werner, crossed the road to reach the castle via a longer but shady walking path. But Frank hesitated for so long about which group he should join that he missed connection to both groups and finally decided to return to the holiday village on foot.
For the main group, led by Werner, there was soon a sporting challenge in form of several tree trunks lying across the path. When we finally arrived at the Gießstein, we enjoyed the view, unpacked our lunches and Jean-François took a group photo before we continued the walk.
When the castle was almost in sight, the four separatists who had visited the castle in the meantime came towards us and only then did we notice the absence of Frank. And we also realized that we could only catch the planned early bus if we did without the castle.
So the group split again. Georg, eager to catch the early bus, set off straight for the bus stop with three fellow walkers tired from the midday heat.
3 of the "separatist group" also made their way back, but chose the walking path through the forest to the intended meeting point at Nebelhöhle.
The main group with Werner ascended the last hill to the castle. Since we wanted to catch the next bus, there was only time for a walk around the castle and of course the group photo with Jean-François' camera and the castle in the background, before we made our way back, this time along the road.
When we turned into the forest path towards Nebelhöhle we noticed that we had again lost someone. Gudrun, who had left the group to buy postcards, turned off in the other direction towards the car park. From there she found her way back to the holiday village in an adventurous way.
While threatening storms were slowly brewing in the sky, Werner's group replenished their evaporated bodies at the restaurant at Nebelhöhle and then made their way to the nearest bus stop. And the "separatists"? After some vagaries and several phone calls, they also found a bus to take them back to the holiday village. According to the motto: "All roads lead to the Sonnenmatte", the whole group arrived at the holiday village in time for dinner. Those who remained faithful to the group and followed the instructions of Werner, the guide, experienced a varied, relaxing and stress-free walking day on this high-altitude walk, partly in single file on narrow paths along the Alb ridge with surprising views far into the country - into the Neckar valley with Reutlingen and, in the background, the state capital Stuttgart.
Alfred Corbet / association of Darmstadt / Germany
Thursday 14th September
Walk to the wind turbines on Himmelberg ( walking group 2)
Walking group 2 with their leader Werner Ruckwied set off with 31 participants, again at 9:30 a.m. from the Sonnenmatte for the approx. 9 km long walk. Today the temperatures were more pleasant for walking and we descended the Sonnenmatte.. We passed the high ropes course and the summer bobsleigh run. We walked on along the border trail which for around 200 years has separated the territories of Württemberg and Prussia, and passed the Sommerkirchhöhle, a barbecue area and the Lauchert spring. At 11 a.m., several smartphones, including those of our foreign walkers suddenly came alive: a trial-warning day was taking place today. In the meantime we had arrived at the forest path above Melchingen. This forest path had not been spared from the recent storms and we had to bypass or climb over several tree trunks, branches and twigs until we arrived at benches and tables for our lunch break. After the break we went around the 3 wind turbines on the Himmelberg. On the way back to back to the Sonnenmatte we went around the Rossberg, past the youth hostel to the upper entrance of the holiday village.
Irmi Corbet // association of Darmstadt / Germany
Walk to the Bolberg ( walking group 1)
Some walkers had changed groups and walk leader Werner Schmid counted 19 participants this time. We set off again from the "Sonnenmatte" bus stop, heading for Genkingen. After crossing the Rhine-Danube divide, Rossberg was first on the walking plan. But realistically we left it to the right and instead aimed straight for Bolberg. Soon we came across the first of many trees that had been blown down by a previous storm.
On the Bolberg we enjoyed supplies and a magnificent view of the upper Neckar valley as far as the Black Forest, Tübingen and Hohenzollern Castle and the Himmelberg mountain. As on the first walk, the sun was shining again, but this time the temperatures were moderate. And that was perfect because this time there was far less shade available. When we passed through Willmandingen, the weakest fellow walker stubbornly resisted the friendly offer to continue by bus, even if she occasionally lagged half a kilometre behind afterwards.
On the Himmelberg with its 3 wind turbines we made ourselves comfortable in the grass under the hissing of the rotor blades of one of the wind turbines and enjoyed the panoramic view over the heights of the Swabian Alb. In clear weather you can even see the mountains of Switzerland. We passed the Lauchert spring and went to the ruins of Hohenmelchingen Castle, where a German participant played hide-and-seek with us. When our search parties returned without having achieved anything, we had to move on without him. We later found the lad stretched out on a bench next to an adventure playground. From there to the holiday village, it was only a stone's throw.
Georg Urbanski / association of Darmstadt / Germany