Head to the Forest
We took the kids out for a hike this past week for some fresh air and exploration! We started the hike at the parking platz, after following the signs from the B270. An address to get you here is Wilensteinermuhle 1, 67705 Trippstadt. This is an absolutely beautiful and kid friendly hiking area. It became a nature preserve in 1983 because of its red sandstone crags and rock formations, huge boulders, humid woodlands, and the rich flora of ferns and mosses. My 5 and 7 year old had no trouble with the hike, and found many walking sticks, places to climb, and forest treasures such as moss, flowers and cool rocks. Follow the Moosalb stream through the gorge and you will come to an inviting moss covered gazebo. This is a wonderful place for a rest and pictures. There are also a couple geocaches along the way, one located right by the gazebo.
Follow the river a bit past the gazebo and see if you can find a staircase on the hill. It can be easily missed, so keep your eyes peeled. This staircase, built into the hill wall, which will lead you to a rock cave. Upon the cave is a huge boulder, which acts as the roof of the small cave dwelling. Go inside the dwelling and you will find a plaque. I had my local friend translate this, as it's in old German and not easily understood.
The rock dwelling was occupied until 1843. A woman, known locally as the "Rock Woman" (Felsenweib) lived there until that time. My kids were fascinated that this small, cold cave was once the home of a hermit woman. The tried to imagine what it would have been like to live there, so many years ago. There were also other cave dwellings that existed in this region until about the middle of the 19th century.
The plaque tells a fairy tale about a girl that lived in a castle and a shepard. They fell in love but weren't allowed to see each other, as she was supposed to marry a knight. After she found out the shepard had died, she was desperate and drowned in the river. Here is the actual text from the plaque inside the cave dwelling:
dies kreitz bekundt vom wilenstein. dem burgherr welgott gnad verleihn. um seines töchterleins fruen tod. hie in der flut auss selennot.. zu aschbach izund gleich im grab. ruth rittersbraut bei hirtenknab.. der klausner wollt es gar verhüten. hätt bass gefruchtet sein fürbitten.. die büsser wandrer gott befehl. gleichsonst all ellendt, pilgersel.
Here is the full version of this tale:
A long time ago, a beautiful damsel lived at Wilenstein Castle. One day the shepherd from the Aschbacherhof appeared there with his sheep below the castle. He was a handsome young man and judging by his manners, he could not always have been a shepherd. The young lady one day found the shepherd sleeping with his flock. When he awoke and saw the maiden, they fell in love. From now on, they saw each other every day. Here in the deep Palatinate Forest nobody saw them playing lovemaking. At the castle, the beauty rejected all suitors, without giving their father the real reason. He wanted to marry her to the rich knight Siegbert. After the unlawful celebration in autumn, the knight rode back to his castle, the next wedding should take place.
The young lady was no longer allowed to see the shepherd from now on. Every night, the sound of the shepherd's flute sounded from the valley up to the castle so that she could hear it. As it slowly entered the winter, the sound of the shepherd's flute also echoed. The bride was looking for an excuse to see her lover again. She asked her father to confess to the monk Klausner, who lives in Karlstal. On her walk there she walked across the meadows, over which they had made two steps in the summer, in search of her lover. She met the herd but with another shepherd. From him she learned that his predecessor was no longer alive, because his heart was broken with grief. Unhappy the lady ran to the Klausner to seek comfort from him. He listened and cried with her. On the way home, however, the Miss von Flersheim drowned in the mill pond. The father now learned the whole love story of his daughter from the Klausner. He had a church built in the valley of the Aschbach in memory of the two lovers. Daughter and shepherd were buried in the church at Aschbach. He had a flute and a shepherd's staff carved in a stone on the tower in memory of both. The church at the Aschbacherhof is long since decayed, but the tower is still standing and shepherd's staff and flute can still be admired there today.