Willingen (51.291708 | 8.620968)

Reconciled opposites

Peak overgrown with Heid with a wide view over Willingen.

"In the forest two paths presented themselves to me/ I chose the one that was least trodden." Robert Frost's lines come to mind as I stand on the outskirts of Willingen. To get to the Orenberg, one has the choice between two very different paths. One is comfortable, leading gently up past the practice hill in a wide northern curve. The other is more challenging, starting a bit south of the jump and climbing steeply, a path that is little used.

My recommendation: opt for the uncomfortable, you won't regret it. You can reserve the other route for a leisurely return.

Mystische Wesen am Orenberg

After only a few steps into the shadowy realm of the Buchenwald, you will probably see what I mean. There are no trees on the slope above you, there are mythical creatures lining the path. As you puff along, slowly putting one foot in front of the other, stories may come to your mind, dramas, movie titles: Der sich die Haare rauft. The mystery of Medusa. Durga, goddess with 18 arms. Bent by the wind. Titans. The last dance.

Soon the slope flattens out. The path makes itself interesting with a few last waves. At a low plant gate you have to duck your head, a few more steps and you reach the high plateau. One look down is enough, and you'll probably realize why this is the Willingen people's local mountain. From here you can overlook the whole town. Close enough the houses, only 150 meters of altitude separate the valley floor and the summit to recognize every detail, far enough away to read in Willingen's soft landscape what the past has left to the present and where the future is heading. The invariably gray slate roofs have only existed since the great fire of 1847, when the flames ate their way from wooden roof to wooden roof.


Down on the main road is the Old Post Office, where the last carriage stopped in 1917. It made way for the railroad, and 100 meters to the south an elegant viaduct was built for it. With the railroad connection came the guests, in 1934 the title of climatic health resort, guesthouses and hotels were built. The largest of them, the Sauerland Star, is easy to spot from up here. Once notorious for excessive bowling club erotica, today families and conventions are said to prefer to come. On the slopes opposite are the ski lifts, popular with skiers in winter and mountain bikers in summer. The houses and sports facilities below me seem like words joined by streets to form sentences, telling of a city that obviously knows how to seize opportunities by the horns.

Now comes the crucial twist. When you turn 180 degrees and walk a few steps, you are suddenly in a completely different world. Hardly any noise. Flat the heather bushes, flat the land, you see as far as the Osterkopf in the east, whose yellowish, almost treeless crest reminds you of Tuscan hills. As the direction of the view changes, so does the pace. Everything slows down. Hikers lapse into strolling among the purple dwarf shrubs, the wind holds its breath, butterflies seem to fly slow-motion. A different world that lives to its own beat, something between Adagio and Largo. What a contrast to the almost urban bustle on the other side!

Nothing symbolizes these contrasts as much as the summit cross. A QR code is attached at eye level. An icon of the digital age is stuck on the symbol of Christians. QR stands for "quick answer" in German. The Savior also promises answers, though not necessarily in a hurry. To read one code, you need an app and the Internet; for the other, an open heart is enough. The black and white pattern stands for the blessings of modernity, the cross blesses the city. A reconciliation, 702 meters above the sea.

And you, hiker, ready for the descent? Maybe you'll take some of the blessed peace down with you. When you get to the bottom, you wait a while before going back online. You may enter the city more leisurely than you left it: as a flâneur to the beat of the Otherworld.

Author: Michael Gleich

You may enter the city more leisurely than you left it: as a flâneur to the beat of the Otherworld.

Michael Gleich

The Orenberg is the best place to reach:

Start Tourist-Information, Am Hagen 10, 34508 Willingen (599 m).

You can also reach the Orenberg via the circular hiking trail W9 to reach.

For more information, please contact the Willingen Tourist Information: Tel: 0 5632 9694353, e-mail: willingen@willingen.de

Willingen (W9)
Difficulty: Medium | Distance: 7.4km | Duration: 2:13h | Ascent: 201m | Descent: 199m
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