From the Father Tree to the "Holy Place" Hilgerath - The HeimatSpur circular trail Old Oak Tree


The HeimatSpur circular route Old Oak

When I set off from my starting point on this Monday morning for the approx. 9 km hike on the HeimatSpur "Alte Eiche" circular trail, I didn't know what to expect. Based on the trail name "Alte Eiche" (Old Oak), I could imagine that there must be an old tree at the center of this circular trail.

In Sarmersbach, where next to the HeimatSpur Rundweg Alte Eiche 3 other HeimatSpuren begin, I was already greeted by an Ur-Eifel after parking my car at the community center. The small sculpture invites you to a photo stop, because here you can sit down next to a "real" Samersbacher and shoot a photo. Great idea - in my opinion! Once on the hiking trail, which leads through varied meadow and forest landscapes and on which you should direct your attention especially to the small, seemingly unspectacular things, you can quickly leave the everyday problems behind.

I walk through green shining mixed forest over meadows decorated with flowers and finally meet a good old acquaintance: The Lieser. She has already accompanied me on my tours on Lieserpfad and Eifelsteig. After about an hour, I come across the tree that gave my hike its name: the old oak at the Kradenbach fish ponds.

My approach to the tree via a small, approx. 50 m long connecting path remains unforgotten to me. There it stands now, the 25 m high, over 460 years old giant, with a trunk circumference of nearly 5 meters. Reverently I stand in front of this ancient natural monument and feel really small and insignificant. It is immediately clear to me why the oak has had an important spiritual significance in many cultures and since epochs of mankind, and still has today. In many ancient cultures the oak was a sacred tree, a tree of life, a tree of judgment, a wise father tree, and the queen of trees. It is still a symbol of steadfastness, honesty, fidelity, continuity, firmness, immortality and fatherly wisdom. And if you take the time to spend a few minutes in silence here in this place, you will quickly realize why we humans ascribe a special meaning to this tree. By the way, in former times one of the many windmills stood on this spot.

After a few minutes of pause, I finally continue my hike. And on this second part, the focus is on another impressive spiritual place.

The parish church "Hilgerath", which I reach after about 1.5 hours, is located on a lonely mountain in the middle of the seven Struth villages. Besides Nerdlen, the villages Boxberg, Beinhausen, Neichen, Kradenbach, Gefell as well as Sarmersbach belong to the "Struth". For these communities, the church Hilgerath, which means "holy place", has remained the religious center to this day. Thus, even today, the dead of the Struth villages are buried next to the church in a cemetery. Patron of the church since the 15th century is St. Hubertus. I learn that the remoteness of the church, perched on a hilltop, was often an incentive for thieves. Between 1714 and 1868 the monstrance, a chalice and the ciborium were stolen. I think that really nothing is sacred to man. In 1975, a valuable pilgrimage painting depicting the Lamentation of Christ was stolen from the church. In 1995, an art dealer from Biberach/Riß accidentally rediscovered it and gave it to the pastor at the time. Since then, on the 2nd Sunday in September, the people of Struth carry out a star pilgrimage from their villages to the church. They are grateful that the pilgrimage picture has returned to their home.

From Hilgerath I hike on my tour back to Sarmersbach, whereby the hiking trail at the end again releases great distant views over the original landscape in the GesundLand Vulkaneifel.

The Old Oak circular route will remain in my memory mainly because of this really special tree, the Old Oak. I realized why the oak tree symbolizes above all also perseverance and high reputation, and stands for life, for strength and loyalty.

So, here's to life!

Author: Rainer Schmitz, HealthyCountryScout

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