On the loop walk on Schafenberg (towards the Siebenquellen) you can see some art in the forest if you keep your eyes open. Whereas you will not spot the squirrel easily, more or less by coincidence, you cannot miss the wild boar and the piglets, the rabbit and the fox. Those wood carvings are positioned at the clearance mentioned in my walk description.
I can imagine kids will accompany with a lot more motivation and joy if you promise them to see and meet all those animals ;-)
This forest is a typical German forest with a lot of different tree species, a lot of beeches, and oaks, birches, larches, and many kinds of firs.
Lately (August 2007) they warned about an infestation of the oaks with a kind of caterpillars that eat the foliage (Eichenprozessionsspinner). Not only because they take measures to get rid of them it might not be wise to spend a lot of time directly under an oak – also some caterpillars could fall down when their paths on the trees get too crowded… LOL
Update October 2009
The clearing has been updated by groups of school children during a summer holiday programme. There are more wooden animals, plus seats, a kind of wooden wigwam, and a bee hotel. Check out Kimi_the_Bear's Kuchen page for photos.
Hohensteinhalle is the perfect starting point for a walk to Kuchen and the historic workers estate I describe in my Kuchen tip. As the farm track is sealed it is also frequently used by inline skaters and cyclists.
If you stand in front of Hohensteinhalle, walk to the left, past the school. Right after the school turn right onto the official cycling track.
After about 3 km you reach Kuchen. After the cemetery a narrow sealed path leads down to Fils river. Cross the bridge and turn right again. The road leads you directly to the historic workers estate.
From there you either walk the same way back to Gingen (which is much quieter and idyllic than the alternative), or you cross the estate, turn left, and then past the shopping centre and car dealer. At B 10 is a shared walking and cycling track. Take the underpass and get onto the old B 10 which runs parallel to B 10. Cars are not allowed there, so it is a safer option than to walk on the footpath along this heavy traffic road.
The other alternative is to walk back on the so called Schwarzer Weg on the other side of the Fils. Instead of heading towards B 10 from the shopping centre, you walk straight past a discounter named Lidl, and you are right on track. This sealed narrow road leads past gardens and the old turbine house and weir which once generated power for the SBI workers estate. - You can also access this track if you walk past the former spinning mill on the left. This leads you through a park and from there straight onto Schwarzer Weg. The name of this "Black Trail" refers to the colour of the slag it was once covered in.
For further details please check my Kuchen page.
I already mentioned this place – a hamlet on a hill above Gingen and Donzdorf - in the Hohenstein walk tip, as the access way by car.
But first and foremost it is a traditional hiking destination for Gingeners. You easily reach it by walking from the summit of Hohenstein along the ridge (not along the ridge above the Fils valley but with your back towards Gingen). On the way you will encounter beautiful views over the lower Fils valley and the Staufer and Rechberg castles.
At Kuchalb there once was an absolutely delightful super-rustic restaurant named “Zur Mutter Franzl” which was part of a farm. The rustic food and home-made bread were matchless – although I must admit my Kiwi hubby would not have touched most of the Swabian specialties LOL
He would be happier with the new restaurant up there, named Kuchalber Stuben which offers “normal” food as well. The quality is very good. However, on the weekends with a lot of customers, service can be very slow.
Update October 2009
Very pleased to tell you that the Gasthof "Zur Mutter Franzl" has reopened after extensive renovation. It is open for rustic dinners (Vesper).
Some weeks ago I have had dinner at "Kuchalber Stuben", the food was excellent. I had deer roast with Spätzle and a beautiful sauce. Also the meals of my co-diners were very good, as well as the side salads (including the fabulous potato salad). The service was great and very attentive.
We call such a signature mountain, towering above a town, Hausberg – house hill or mountain. Hohenstein (High Stone) is Gingen’s Hausberg, and with 701 metres the highest hill of the area. You can be rather clever and reach it without much effort after a walk through flat terrain. I will reveal this “secret” access later LOL
The normal thing to do is to walk up and then enjoy a breathtaking view over Gingen and on very clear days down to Stuttgart, over all the hills of the Staufer emperors, the ruins and remains of castles, the edge of the Schwäbische Alb, the Fils valley and much more.
Go to the railway station (from the traffic lights on B 10, turn into the town centre; this is already Bahnhofstraße which leads directly to the railway station), walk through the underpass, take the left fork and follow up the track up the hill. When the forest starts you have the option to walk up a steep zig-zag track, or a little less steep straight ahead, and at the end of the forest turn right and walk some hundred metres flat to the summit. I suggest you walk up the straight way and then take the zig-zag track back downhill, so you have different tracks.
Back down, turn left about 300 metres after the end of the zig-zag track. This track leads past the Waldheim which is the club house of a music club. It is open on Sundays for meals and drinks.
If you walk on the ridge along the Fils valley you end up on Tegelberg. From there you can walk down to Geislingen and take the bus or train back to Gingen.
Hohenstein is also a great starting point for big hiking tours. I suggest you get a walking map, as the options are endless.
The above mentioned access for lazybones or not so fit natures:
By car to Süßen, turn right to the town centre, to Donzdorf, in Donzdorf towards Kuchalb (right turn before the town centre, follow the sign), steeply up the hill, through a farm/hamlet named Scharfenhof, past Scharfenschlössle. Park your car at Kuchalb (carpark outside the centre, turn right, then keep to the left), and make the super easy 1.5 to 2 km walk to the summit of Hohenstein.
This is a museum of the Hungarian Donauschwaben (Swabians living along the Danube in Hungary). “Untere Baranya” is the name of Gingen’s partnership town.
The museum showcasts certificates, costumes and a lot of photos.
It is located in the historic railway station is is closed in winter. From April it is open on Sundays from 2pm to 5pm, and on appointment, phone (07162) 32 03. Entry free.
The building is no more used as service centre for railway users, as it was during my school days. If you use the train you need CASH to feed the ticket vending machine. And this machine is at the bottom of a staircase that leads up to the tracks. No machine up there as at other stations.
Update October 2009
The opening hours of the Heimatstube have changed. It is only open every four weeks. Best you always check with the person who has the key, Mr. Wilhelm Buck. His phone number is (07162) 7301. They also have summer and winter breaks, the latter lasting from November 2009 to April 2010. To me this means that the museum is nearly never open. So if you are interested in a visit, best you always call at the town hall or at the guy who has the key. He lives near the museum.
Yessss – on those faces you can see that the Gingeners landed a great coup by snapping the Siebenquellen, also called Sieben-Brunnen-Quellen (Seven Wells Springs), on Spitzenberg from the Kucheners. This fountain honours this great achievement which only happened 120 years ago - and if you look closely you see that the water is pouring out of seven springs.
Knowing that the town would need more and more drinking water, ways and means were investigated how to provide this precious good. Although the Gingeners knew that the Seven Wells had their source on Kuchen’s territory, they quickly and secretly went to the office which registered the water rights. This was granted for a yearly lease of 5 Marks. Legend tells that on 3 May 1887 Gingen’s mayor was just signing the document when the officials of the neighbour village of Kuchen came into the office to claim their rights for the water… That is how the Gingeners got their nickname Schnapper (Snappers).
On 3 January 1890 the town council decided to install the underground water pipes. By selling trees, mainly oaks, from the communal forests the project was financed. Already in November of the same year the work was finished. On 10 November 1890 the achievement was celebrated with a big party and fireworks at the railway station.
The fountain was crafted by the local artist Hans Neuwirth. He comes from a family of stonemasons who have created most of the gravestones on Gingen’s cemetery.
It shows a dancing Gingener celebrating the coup and presenting the 5 mark coin and the certificate, a woman filling a bucket with water from the pipes - and a Kuchener looking a bit perplexed at the cheeky Gingeners from a distance.
On photo 2 you see the whole fountain with the seven springs.
This strange name “s’Café” is pure Schwäbisch (Swabian). It means nothing but “the café”, the s stands for the neutral article “das”. The story behind it is that nobody never ever used the original name which was “Café Soukup”, Soukup being the owner’s family name. If you asked someone where he would go or came from the answer always was, “ins Café” or: “vom Café”. Because it was just THE café.
First of all this came because “s’Café” was and is Gingen’s only real café. Second, the name Soukup is very unfamiliar in the area as the family comes from the former German Bohemia. This region of the Czech Republic was famous for great dumplings and baking, and so opening a café was just the continuation of an old tradition far away from home.
And really: Their cakes are divine. Try the fluffy cheesecake with apricots or the fantastic Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake), the Herrentorte (something special for men ;-) or the Bienenstich (“Bee’s Bite”). But above all “s’Café” is famous for its Sachertorte which – as you know – originates from “Hotel Sacher” in Vienna. When once we had visitors from Vienna they said this chocolaty cake in Gingen was more delicious than at their “Hotel Sacher”. I want to be polite and would brand it as the best Sachertorte outside Vienna ;-)
I do not tell you a secret by indulging in my thoughts of all those fantastic cakes. You will find it out yourself if you decide to try one or more cakes on a Sunday. From the early afternoon there are long queues of people who are waiting to take their selections of cakes back home. Of course, you can also have your cake directly in the café. And if you need a gift, get some of the fabulous (and expensive) homemade chocolates.
Sorry, no photo of the cakes (yet). They were all eaten before we thought of the photo LOL But - update Feb. 2008 - visitors from Gingen have just surprised me with a box of homemade chocolates from THE Café. I quickly took a photo before they there were all eaten because they were soooooooo divine ;-)
Located in Pfarrstraße, opposite the church and next to the Schnapperbrunnen (fountain), you can only have a look from the outside, unless you plan to have a chat with the pastor ;-) It is a big and beautiful half-timbered house which enhances the beauty of the square in front of the church.
The inscription is the oldest one in Germany that could be dated. It is three (long) lines long, carved into a stone plate. The Latin inscription says that the Bethaus (Prayer House) was dedicated by an abbot named Salemannus in the year 984 after Christ..
You find it on the backside of the church. When you cross the gate in the surrounding wall, walk around the church to the left side. The inscription plate is above the first door you see on the backside of the church.
When Gingen was mentioned the first time in 901 – in a gift certificate of Empress Kunigunde – it is supposed that it already had a chapel, a so-called prayer house, in its centre. The inscription from 984 is in Latin and could be conserved over all the years and today is part of an outside wall, on the backside of the church, over a door.
The gothic church in its actual shape was built in the 15th century. It is 23 m long and nearly 15 m wide, and 21 m high. The spire is 40.5 m high. It was adorned by a cross and a weather rooster in 1885. The frescos inside are from 1524. In 1886 four bells were pulled up into the spire. As Gingen was forced to participate in the reformation in 1531 (belonging to the city of Ulm) the whole population was protestant until after the Second World War.
The church is surrounded by a small courtyard and a wall. This has also been beautifully renovated, as was the church several times. To straighten the slightly leaning tower took three years in the early 2000’s.
Before the church bells were moved electrically they had to be rung by hand. I remember from the time before my confirmation that we climbed up the stairs in the spire with the pastor several times, and although he always asked us not to ring the bells we somehow succeeded every time to irritate the Gingeners by our ringing at completely odd times… ;-)
This old castle – nestled on a little hill between Gingen and Donzdorf - is in private hands now but the owner allows you to walk within the courtyard. He has restored the tower, and even has TV up there.
You reach Scharfenschlössle easily by either walking from Hohenstein to Kuchalb, and then down the hill towards Donzdorf, or by car via Süßen and Donzdorf. A sign beside the road invites you to walk up to the castle but stay on the track.
The official name of Scharfenschlössle (Schlössle = small castle) ist Scharfenburg. The ruin consists of two main buildings, the big royalistic house and the servants’ building, and the former fortification of which only some parts have remained. The tower has, as already mentioned, been restored beautifully.
In the past the castle had several owners. When the line of the Scharfenbergs ended it became part of the estate of the Earls of Rechberg, and later a castellan, a chaplain and finally a hunter lived there. The Scharfenbergs, supporters of Emperor Barbarossa, lived there in the 12th century. After an attack in 1310 it became part of the Helfenstein line. In 1379 Conrad IV. bought it, then it became the residence of the Rechbergs. In the 15th and 16th century the castle was completely restored. But several strikes of lightning destroyed it in the 19th century. Since then it has been a ruin, and the Earls sold it to the town of Donzdorf, which onsold it to the actual private owner.
If you do not want to walk or cycle uphill the way to Süßen, the neighbour village towards Göppingen, is a good option.
Coming from B 10, turn left after the Rathaus (town hall) and go straight ahead for about 1km, then, at the last roundabout of Gingen, turn right and follow the signs of the official cycling track.
You can continue to Donzdorf on the Lautertal-Radweg (bicycle track). In this case, when the track meets the first official road of Süßen, turn sharply to the right and follow the signs.
Either walk or cycle back the same way (safe option LOL) – or finish the loop through a forest named Marren (but only if you do not mind a short but steep uphill section).
For this, when having reached Donzdorf, you have to navigate your way to your right up the hill, towards the forest. Turn to the right and walk or cycle parallel to the forest until a street named Gingener Weg turns to the right. Take this turn, and then follow this street which will soon be an unsealed white sandy gravel track. When you reach a fork, take the option to the right. Soon you will reach Gingen. Johanneskirche is so dominant and visible from everywhere that you will find your way back to the centre without a problem.
BTW If you take the wrong arm at the fork you will also reach Gingen at some point, you will just spend more time in the forest… ;-) If you are wrong, do not turn to the left. This will lead you back into the forest, and you will get lost, as there are no signs at all. The signs you see are only the names of the different sections of the forest.
This is a walk towards Kuchen and up the hill where the Siebenquellen sit. I will not lead you directly to the place where the Schnapper story starts because you would get lost, as orientation can be a bit difficult in this forest, and there are absolutely no signs apart from the place names within the forest.
This walk starts at B 10, at the Kuchen end of Gingen. There you have parking options on the left and right side of B 10 (commercial zone to the left, old B 10 on the right - not directly along B 10!!!).
Walk along old B 10. After about 2 km, turn to the right up the hill onto an unsealed fine white gravel track. Follow this track to the top of the hill named Schafenberg. At the top it describes a very wide left curve. Stay on that track until you reach the point where it splits into several arms. Turn to the right, past a clearance with wooden seats and animal carvings, follow the curve to the left, slightly uphill.
Now just imagine to walk a loop back to the point where you turned right.
So: Turn left when a track from the right joins your track. Turn left again at the next intersection, and then always straight ahead, and back down the same way that you came up the hill at the beginning.
If you get lost, you should never turn to the right at the start – and not to the left on the way back. If you follow this rule you would always end up somewhere between Kuchen and Gingen. Otherwise you walk miles and miles into the forest. So I highly recommend to stay on the track I describe here.
BTW This track is absolutely great for jogging. It has always been my favourite track in Gingen because the uphill sections might be long but they are not that steep that they would kill you. Just do not talk all the way uphill and you will survive ;-)
If you want to pick and eat raspberries and blackberries along the way take only the higher ones. I was told they have problem with the fox tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) there, which still is a lethal disease which outbreaks many years after the infection.
As mentioned in my intro, this was the first sports stadium of Kreis Göppingen with a handball field of international standard measures.
Now it is old-fashioned but, of course, the field still has the correct measures. The local handball teams and other teams of the region play there on Saturdays and Sundays from autumn till spring. Sometimes dancing balls and other festivities take place there, and school sport in the mornings. The primary school – in the meantime named Hohensteinschule – is the building next door.
Two outdoor sports fields complete the sports complex at the Kuchen end of the village.
Follow the sign to Hohensteinhalle from the turn at the traffic lights at B 10. You cannot miss it, the stadium is at the end of Lindenstraße which is the second to the right after the traffic lights.
You still have a great view of the Fils Valley and the surrounding hills from Burren – but you do not have the great view from Gingen to Burren anymore. The trees have grown quite a bit since my childhood, and blocked the view to the treeless top of the rounded hill. You must consider this look to understand the second name of the hill: Nadelkissen – Pincushion – as it throned like a pincushion above the treeline.
If you walk from Gingen the nicest way is on a track through a forest named “Brand” (durch den Brand). From the traffic light on B 10, follow the road towards Unterböhringen/Grünenberg for about 200 metres, then follow the road to the left along a creek named Barbarabach. When the road would go uphill, take the left fork on an unsealed track, with a forest on the left, and unfenced paddocks with apple and pear trees on the right. Shortly before you reach the Grünenberg-Unterböhringen road, turn sharp left up the hill. Now it goes rather steeply up the hill to the summit where you find some a bench for your picnic and have great views.
I must say, signs are very sparse, so always ask the locals to make sure you get on the right track.
By car: Pass Grünenberg. After a sharp and long left curve there is rather a big carpark on the right. Park there, cross the road and walk up the hill straight ahead.
Of course, you can also make this trip by bicycle or MTB if you do not mind the strenuous uphill section. The last ascent is not really suitable for bikes, so better park it at the carpark.