Off the beaten path

Beeches, aspens, artificial water-filled depressions and mysterious pools – a hike through the Obeler Bësch

By Barbara Fischer

Our hike today takes us into the Beetebuerger Bësch natural forest reserve, which covers some 237 hectares and stretches along the CR163 between Leudelange and Bettemburg. We will start on the circular walk (approx. 10 km long) in the centre of the quiet, tiny one-street village of Obeler (German – Abweiler), which has preserved its rural character in the 21st century. Passing the chapel dedicated to Saint Willibrordus, we will have a gentle walk through meadows and fields along the cycle trail right up to the boundary of the Beetebuerger Bësch. Here, we plunge into a mysterious realm of hobgoblins and other forest denizens, lying in wait for inquisitive visitors to this enchanted and abandoned forest. Small brooks meander through the forest and every so often along the way we will find small pools, known locally as ‘Mardellen’, which act as the nurseries and homes of toads, frogs and dragonflies. As a natural forest reserve, the woodland is largely left to itself, which allows an enchanting degree of diversity to thrive. Gigantic beeches and oaks, some as much as 200 years old, shade the forest floor with their enormous roof-like canopies. Along the water courses, a quasi-riparian woodland structure has developed, composed of oaks, ashes and alders. Dead wood creates habitats for numerous insects and smaller forest dwelling creatures and up aloft in the ancient tree tops live woodpeckers, bats and owls. Some parts of the circular walk are shared with other signposted trails – cycle tracks, the Way of Saint James, a Nordic walking circuit and the national long-distance trail Sentier du Sud. It passes several pools with poetic names, such as Léiffraeweier (Pool of Our Lady) or the Présidenteweier . At the end of the circular walk, the Ditchesweier is the perfect opportunity to dangle your legs in water, to relax a little or enjoy a well-earned picnic. Please respect the private facilities of the angling club and don’t leave any rubbish in this glorious natural space.

© Emile Hengen

Despite being 10 km long, the path is easy for children to walk. On information boards designed specifically for the young, forest residents explain to curious children where and how they live in this natural forest ecosystem. The path is also well suited to cycling – and in some parts runs along officially designated cycle trails.

© Emile Hengen

A paradise for angling enthusiasts

People who prefer the meditative peace of the water to walking can enjoy this on the banks of one of the numerous fish ponds in the region. As well as the Ditchesweier, the Esch2022 region has numerous other ponds for keen anglers to enjoy. In the Lamadelaine district, deep and peaceful woodland conceal three idyllic pools, which since time immemorial have drawn locals as well as visitors from near and far to the Lamadelaine valley. A small café by the fish ponds, with a summer terrace and cosy rooms heated by open fires in winter, makes an inviting place to linger and, at the same time, is the ideal spot to start a stroll to the ‘Prënzebierg – Giele Botter’ nature reserve. Deep in the meadow areas lie the Clemency ponds. As well as trout breeding farms, there are also local fish species such as carp and roach. This place is also an ideal spot to start on shorter or longer walks or cycling trips. Not far from the pools there is the ‘Attert’ cycle trail and the ‘Clemency II’ circular hiking trail. In the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ between Leudelange, Steinbrücken and Bergem lies one of the most beautiful nature reserves in the iron-ore basin, the Mettendall. In a estate formerly owned by landed gentry, the Monnerrecher Ellchen run a public angling club around the former estate fish pond – a prime location in Luxembourg’s angling scene.

© Emile Hengen

Also close to the border with France, there are two fish ponds in idyllic locations for angling enthusiasts and sportsmen and women to enjoy. In the amazingly clear spring water of the Alzette in Thil (F), trout and stately carp circulate in the Étang de Thil. In Audun-le-Tiche (F) on the way out of the town towards Esch-sur-Alzette, you can see beside the road a man-made pond which you would not necessarily expect to find here. A former swimming pool, though it is only accessible to members of the angling club.

For information on angling licences and the regulations in Luxembourg, please visit Anglers without a fishing licence can fish in most ponds by paying a fee to the respective operator. And it is also generally possible to make group reservations.