The Mundartwanderweg has been on our to-walk-list for quite some time, but somehow we never got around to actually walking it. Now today we finally had the time and the motivation to tackle it.
Originally the trail is not a circuit, so walkers either have to take the bus back to the start, or walk back one way or another.
The “Mundartweg Modautal” is the first themed walk of its kind in Hessia. The idea: besides a nice walk you get the chance to learn about local dialect, folklore and heritage. The “Mundartfreunde Südhessen” (loosely translated “Dialect-Friends of southern hessia”) recorded a bunch poems and songs in the local dialect, as well as lessons about it. The trail follows the already established trail “Modautaler Uferwanderweg” between the villages of Neunkirchen and Ernsthofen and now not only showcases the beauty of the region, but also its culture.
We started our hike in Neunkirchen. There is a big parking lot between the church and the restaurant Höhenhaus. The first of the local dialect stations is also located beside the church. We pushed a button on the gray box, and immediately a loud “Gurre, ihr Leit” sounded from the appliance, which would literally translate to “Good one, you people” and is used as a greeting in the form of “Hello, how are you doing” in the region.
Starting at the parking lot, the trail now first crosses the road and leads up a small hill. Here we found a wooden bench in the shape of a deckchair, with an amazing view across the outskirts of the Odenwald and towards the Frankfurt Skyline as well as the distant hills of the Taunus.
Just shortly after the bench we came across the second “Mundartstation” which displays QR-Codes that can be used to load the audio files on a smartphone. We got ours out and listened to the different contributions. We had pretty good cell connection throughout the whole walk by the way.
The topic of this “Mundartstation” is Apples, due the its location near an apple tree, which is supposedly the one on the highest elevation throughout all of the Odenwald. Other than the story of the apple tree (locally pronounced “Ebbelbaum”) the contributions contained poems and songs about what is made from apples regionally. Most important of course hessian Apfelwein (locally prounounced “Ebbelwoi”) which is a kind of apple cider and is somewhat of a national drink of the region.
Along the way we now came across different information panels that were labeled as “Ufftånge”-Stationen. Those were added to the trail in September 2021 and invite the reader to appreciate the nature around themselves, and try to experience them with all five senses. So each of the panels is usually addressing one sense and how it can be used in that particular spot to relax and try to improve the readers wellbeing through just experiencing nature.
Now the trail lead into the forest, by some pretty spectacular rock formations, always continuing on towards the spring of the small stream modau. The spring it self turned out pretty unspectacular. Only a few drops of water seemed to drip out between a bunch of rocks. But there was another “Mundartstation” located there, which taught us about the history of the Modau and then, in a dialect lesson, how to pronounce the weekdays in the regional dialect.
Further on the trail softly descends through the forest. It seems there are more theme trails around here, because we came across a bunch of glazed ceramic plates with handwritten poems and quotes about the beauty of nature. Also there were serveral wooden “picture frames” in the forest that invite people walking by to take a special look into the forest.
Soon the trail leads out of the forest and first crosses some open fields before it enteres the small town of Brandau. At the historic town hall is a picnic spot, and of course the next “Mundart-Station”.
We continued hiking, out of Brandau, and up the Mühlberg, where another information plate and some wooden benches invited us to take another short break and enjoy the views into the valley. Afterwards we continued in the direction of Hoxhohl, the next small village. Before entering town we came met up with the Modau creek again, which has grown significantly at this point, compared to the few drops of water we had seen at its spring.
In Hoxhohl the fifth “Mundartstation” was already waiting for us and we listened to its audiofiles while conituing our walk, now in the direction pf Ernsthofen. Here the trail follows the Modau pretty closely on a small footpath, and this was one of the sections that we definitely enjoyed the most. A sign warns that this path requires some more surefootedness and offers an alternative for people that might not feel comfortable with that. We did not find it to be that challenging though, but still liked the fact that they marked it very clearly.
Faster than expected we hat finished the trail between Hoxhohl and Ernsthofen and soon stood at the second-to-last “Mundartstation” at the Ahlheimruhe. The station taught us how to pronounce the letter “ü” correctly in Odenwald-Dialect.
Only a few more meters were left to get into Ernsthofen. We consulted our smartphones to find out wether a bus would be running any time soon. When it turned out that there would not be a bus for an hour or so, we decided to continue onwards and just walk back another way. Being on the move seemed more inviting than just waiting for an hour in the heat. It did extend the planned 12km walk to a full 18km though.
We walked towards the Berghof and through a patch of forest in the direction of Klein-Bieberau. Here we noticed that our water supply was almost empty, so we asked a nice lady in her garden, if she would be so kind and fill our bottles. And she did, so we happily continued our way well hydrated. After a short but steep ascent through a forest we reached Lützelbach, where we found an old fountain that we bathe our arms and legs, which felt really nice after all the heat and sweat.
From here it was just a few hundred more meters back to our starting point in Neunkirchen.