Flonheim is a small wine village in western Rheinhessen. Here, at the parking lot at the Adelberghalle, starts the Hiwweltour Aulheimer Valley. Before we take the access road to the Hiwweltour from there, we first walk through Flonheim itself. The walk quickly becomes much longer than planned, because Flonheim welcomes us with a beautiful marketplace and signs suggesting a historical tour.
We admire various old houses with interesting history. Many of them are built of light-colored Flonheim sandstone, which contributes to the picturesque, uniform appearance of the village. We don't even know how many meters we cover just by walking around. But it is high time to turn off into nature, after all, the longest Hiwweltour in Rheinhessen lies ahead of us today.
A small wonder world
The first section of the hike leads through the idyllic Wiesbach Valley to the Ghost MillA mill farmstead steeped in history with magnificent half-timbering, which is now a renowned winery. Unfortunately, the sun hides behind thick clouds, but we still enjoy the peace and seclusion of nature.
The Wiesbach valley slowly merges into the Aulheim valley. At first glance, nature doesn't look much different, but geologically and climatically, we are entering a different world. You might not suspect it, but the Aulheim Valley is virtually a steppe. The vegetation is surprising: spurge, thyme, noble chamander - various plants thrive here that have a hard time in the rest of Rheinhessen.
We hike below the Raven's Pulpit, habitat of rare steppe plants. Folklore has it that witches were once thrown down from the pulpit, thus attracting ravens. This gloomy story does not really fit the idyllic landscape we are in, but the southwest of Germany is known worldwide for its gloomy stories and fairy tales.
The landmark of Rheinhessen
We pass volcanic andesite quarries and follow the Aulheimer Graben between meadows and vineyards to the Gutsschänke Aulheimer Mühle. Now we climb up to the Adelberg. On the mountain the landmark of Rheinhessen is waiting for us, thus the ascent is quickly forgotten.
The trullo is a white round house with a pointed roof and was built in 1756 in the style of the Apulian trulli. Rumor has it that Italian guest workers who worked in the quarries around Flonheim built the trullo. The view from up here is fantastic - despite the modest weather. We stroll through the adjacent educational wine garden. I particularly like the fact that we are not only allowed to look at local grape varieties, but also to taste special table grapes. Although they are still a little sour, they taste good - in the middle of the vineyard and right next to the trullo.
From wine to forest
The Hiwwelt Tour leads us to the flank of the Aulheim Valley. Here, countless vines, native hedges, waving grasses and numerous butterflies characterize the picture. It goes up and down and up again - just as it should be for a Hiwwelt tour, because "Hiwwel" means hill in Rheinhessian. Again and again we stop and enjoy the vastness of the valley.
The practical signposts of the Hiwweltour lead us from the vineyard into the forest. Of course, if the vegetation along the way is as diverse as in the Aulheim Valley, then a large forest area must not be missing. But this is not at all a matter of course! In Rheinhessen, a lot of forest was cleared for the sake of winegrowing. That's why we enjoy this section all the more.
The air is immediately fresher and cooler. Walking is quite easy on the loose forest floor. Although all the other nature trails of the Hiwweltour are also pleasant to walk throughout.
Views over views
About halfway through the forest trail, we reach the Lonsheimer Turm. Here we take a well-deserved break and enjoy the picnic we brought with us. With significantly lighter backpacks, we climb the steep spiral staircase of the tower and take in the beautiful panoramic view as far as the Odenwald, Taunus and Hunsrück.
We leave the forest and walk between the edge of the forest and vines towards the next viewpoint. The Oswaldhöhe is a resting place from which we can let our gaze wander over the Rhine-Hessian village of Bornheim, which now lies directly below us.
All good things come in threes! The next vantage point awaits us in the form of the Bornheim lookout tower. The sandstone tower with the wooden viewing platform is lovingly designed and offers a whole new perspective on the endless sea of vines in the middle of the vineyard.
Slowly I feel - or rather my legs feel - that we are hiking on the longest of all Hiwwelt tours. I'm all the more pleased that we're diving into the forest again and that I can recharge my batteries with the help of lots of fresh air.
We reach Sedan Square and pass impressive sandstone quarries. Incidentally, the light-colored sandstone was formed at the bottom of a freshwater lake about 290 million years ago. When a primeval sea first flooded Rheinhessen about 30 million years ago, the Flonheim sandstone had long since fossilized and formed coastal rocks. You can even see this in one of the quarries.
The sandstone was used as a building material for many buildings in Flonheim itself and in the region. Historical contracts prove that Flonheim sandstone was even used in Cologne Cathedral.
The Jewish cemetery in Uffenhofen, a district of Flonheim, is the last highlight of this hike. Here, too, the gravestones are mainly made of the typical Flonheim sandstone. Until 1979 there was also a synagogue in Flonheim. After its demolition, the cemetery is now the only remaining testimony to the Jewish history of the village.
We return to the Flonheim marketplace and from here we look for a cozy place to stop. This we have found after more than 13 kilometers on the Hiwweltour Aulheimer Valley plus historical tour in Flonheim deserves!