Saturday, 1 October 2022

Odenwald Break: Day 3

We were ready - weather-wise and equipped with a map - for our first proper hike here on Monday, the 19th of September. The grey clouds did not worry us, and several times the sun even managed to get through (sort of).

Leaving the hotel and changing into our hiking boots in the car park (we kept the crate with our boots in the trunk of O.K.'s car most of the time), we soon made it deeper into the woods.

Our circuit took us across a field, and the wide open space was a nice contrast before we were back under the canopy of the trees.

The Minneburg, a ruined castle overlooking the river Neckar, was our goal, and we reached the site without meeting more than a handful of other people.


As the walls are not as stable as they look, the inner area of the ruins is closed to the public. But the outer courtyard is open and provides great views of both the ruins and the Neckar valley, with the small town of Neckargerach at the bottom.

The way back took us through a settlement of a few houses around a farm, with this small chapel ("Hubertuskapelle") at its entrance. It was locked, quite unusual for such places. The rowan tree and the well were on the other side of the road just a bit further on.

The lane leading back into Neunkirchen

About 13.5 km and less than 3 hours later, we were back at the hotel in time for coffee before going to the spa, which we had entirely to ourselves that afternoon. Most other hotel guests had either left after the weekend or were sitting in a seminar - good for us! 

We took our habitual two turns in the sauna, resting for a while afterwards before going back upstairs to our room and dress for dinner. If you detect a pattern there, you are right; it is exactly what we want and look forward to during our May and September holidays. 

A few facts about the castle (Minneburg):

Although its origins are much older, the castle was first mentioned in official documents in the year 1339. Like most castles in this part of the world, it changed hands several times and suffered damage in various conflicts, worst of all during the Thirty Years' War

The partly destroyed castle was given up on March 22 in 1622 (I noted that date because my birthday is March 22) and then used as a source for building material by the locals. 

About 200 years later, in the early 19th century, a hermit lived in the ruins, making a small income by crafting wooden clockworks. At the end of the 19th century, attempts were made at securing what was left of the castle, but this happened on a professional scale only from 1970 onwards.

Legend has it that the name Minneburg comes from a noble lady, Minna von Horneck. She was forced to marry a man she did not want and fled into the woods, hiding in a cave near the site where the castle was later erected. She loved a knight who was away on a crusade, and desperately waited for him. But by the time he returned she was very ill, and on her deathbed, her beloved promised to erect a castle in her memory.

The wikipedia entry about the castle (only in German) shows many good pictures I was not able to take, since we could not go in but had to admire the ruins from outside.


  1. Rowan trees are enchanting, we have a song about them.
    *Anne Lorne Gillies Rowan Tree.* YouTube.
    Anne is still with us, born in Stirling, raised in Oban, classically trained.

    Walter Scott would have liked the ruined castle above the Neckar. and would have stopped in the little Hubertuskapelle.
    I can see myself walking down that quiet lane leading to Neunkirchen, none the worse for being a cloudy day.

    On dreich days in Scotland I have to make a small effort to be cheerful yet dreich days in the Cotswolds requires no such effort to be cheerful.
    *That is a Glasgow sky,* I will say to my sister on the way to Moreton-in-Marsh, Burford, Stowe-in-the-Wold or Snowshill.

    Cirencester is always busy with locals and visitors, its cafes and pubs lively.
    How many tourists do you see around Ludwigsburg at this time of year?

    1. Oh yes, Walter Scott would have had a great time exploring this region - there are many castles (some ruined, some still inhabited) in the immediate area. The Hubertuskapelle is of course a recent addition and would not yet have been around in Scott's time.

      Ludwigsburg sees many tourists these days, as the world's biggest pumpkin exhibtion (accoring to the event organisers) is still being held in the palace grounds. The other day we counted 9 big coaches in the palace's outer courtyard.
      Also, because we used to have such a strong US American presence here, many of the former military people and their families come back for nostalgic tours of their old living and working places.

    2. Check out this youtube video made by an American who returned to Ludwigsburg 55 years later:

    3. The Man Who Returned to Ludwigsburg 55 Years Later. Thanks.
      I shall read it tomorrow morning over coffee.
      It sounds like the title of a short story by O. Henry or Stephen Crane.
      The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky.
      I have never finished a Scott novel though I mean one day to read all of Old Mortality and the Heart of Midlothian.
      Strange, I have dipped into all seven volumes of the biography of Sir Walter by his son-in-law J.G. Lockhart; and I also have the single volume edition of his Journals (Canongate) - packed with gossip not scandal, easier than the fiction.
      The best biographies of Scott are by John Buchan (reeks of Auld Reekie and pre-industrial Scotland) and a slim life by A.N. Wilson who loves his subject.
      Allan Massie wrote a wonderful imaginary memoir, *The Ragged Lion*.
      You can hear Massie's voice on YouTube:
      *Allan Massie - Toast to Sir Walter 1990.*
      The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club.
      Massie has written a brilliant political novel of life in France in WWII and a novel on Klaus Mann the son of Thomas Mann.

    4. *Sir Walter Scott - The Wizard of the North.*
      BBC Omnibus. YouTube. This documentary was written by Allan Massie.

    5. The only work by Scott I know is Ivanhoe; my sister and I had the story as a play for children on cassette when we were kids, and loved the whole noble knights thing.
      Years ago, I was at a family gathering in England and the pub where we met boasted to have had Scott as their most famous guest.

    6. The received wisdom is to skip the first two chapters of Heart of Midlothian (remember that Scott published his novel anonymously) which is why A.N. Wilson's critical biography is an aid, selecting just the right short passages to catch our attention.

      The Journals are as if written by a different hand.
      Scott the lawyer, living in the New Town (Edinburgh's Georgian district behind Princes Street) gives us a vivid impression of his life as you do in your blog.
      He is always dining out at some toff's house, and there is his love of the Scottish Borders, where he spent much time as a lame little boy.

      Order Massie's *The Ragged Lion* and you won't be disappointed.
      Massie's WWII French novel is *A Question of Loyalties* is a page turner and shows how a decent man can make a mistake which ruins his life..
      Massie is now in print thanks to a one-man publisher Allan Cameron of Vagabond Books.
      I have never Mr Cameron him but he knows a friend of mine, David Kinnear, who owns Hyndland Books (online) near where I live. It's my local bookshop.

    7. I meant to write : I have never met Mr Cameron in person ...
      He publishes writers from west and central Europe, a revelation to me.
      *Memoirs of a Life Cut Short* by Richard Gavelis (1950-2002) took me to Lithuania during the old Soviet Union. The novelist trained as a physicist.
      I have picked it up several times since reading it, enjoying passages again.

  2. I love the little well. What a sad story about the noble lady!

    1. The story about Minna is unconfirmed and just a legend, but I am sure things like that happened to ladies all the time in those days. Marriage rarely was for love or their own choice.