2020-09-13, Sunday. MTB ride with Mark & the girls in the Schönbuch & Clara’s 2nd Kindergeburtstag

It’s one of the hottest September days for a long time, and we decide to go for a fairly long ride in the Schönbuch – from Ehningen, up towards Hildrizhausen, then into the forest down towards Rohrau and some sweet singletrack (Strava link here), that seems to have been called “Canada”.

It was quite a long ride for the girls; Clara particularly struggled on some of the climbs but they both made it round despite the hot weather.

Back just in time for a quick shower before the guests arrived for Clara’s geburtstag celebration: Oma & Opa; Daniella, Elmar, Jonas & Mia; and eventually Caroline Hoffmann.

All a bit of a rush in the evening as the girls both go back to school tomorrow after the summer break.

2020-09-12, Saturday. Naturfreundehaus, Herrenberg, mountain biking & Waldseilgarten

As a treat for the girls, we all went down to the Naturfreundehaus, above the Autobahn tunnel near Herrenberg. We used to come here occasionally when we lived in Rohrau, but that might have been the last time I was here (1987?). Happily, it hasn’t changed much and is still very, very popular. We only just managed to park the motorhome in the very large car park.

The Waldseilgarten, just a 1km walk from the Naturefreundehaus, is a version of the Go Ape sites one finds across the UK: effectively up in the treetops, along rope walks & other obstacles; zip wires and much, much more. Not for me – I get vertigo just a couple of metres above ground, never mind the 5-25 metre height of some of the rope walks. I brought my bike with me as I’d been told there were some MTB trails at the same location.

As the place was so busy, there was a 1 hour wait for harnesses to fit the girls, so I went off to try out the trails whilst the others waited…

There are two trails: blue “Flowline” trail and red “Enduro” trail. I decided to start on the blue trail. It was actually very steep in places, with a few kickers, & tight switchbacks. Much steeper than an equivalent blue trail at home. It was also exceedingly short! It drops about 70 metres and then there’s a steep, but easily do-able road climb back up. I did the blue trail one more time, then I thought I’d take a look at the red trail. This has a couple of sizeable drops that would easily be graded as a double-dot black run back home! It also, rather dangerously, criss-crosses the blue trail in several places. Apart from the two big drops, there are some tight, steep switchbacks with roots thrown in for good measure. Technical, yes – but also very short. (Strava link here.)

In the meantime, all the others – Joy, Mark & the girls – got themselves kitted-up with harnesses for the rope walks, and the initiation training session.

It was one of the things Joy pushed herself to do, and – once up on the first proper ropes – regretted doing so! Whilst Emily & Clara were in their element, Joy was struggling with having the confidence to allow the harness to take the strain. She did manage to complete the first two sections before retiring with tired arms, though she was beginning to get the hang of it towards the end. A really good effort, I’d say.

Theirs was the last group to be allowed on: after the 1 hour wait, it was not far from closing time. Mark & the girls carried on to another section and then went to do “Flying Foxes” – 8 entire sections on zip wires!

In the meantime, I headed back to get a table at the Naturefreundehaus and order some pommes & drinks for Joy, Kathryn & myself as dusk approached. Mark & the girls joined us with barely enough time to grab their food before heading back to Ehningen for the fireworks.


Apparently, there’s a major firework manufacturer based at the Steinbruch in Ehningen – just a few hundred metres away from Kathryn’s house, atop the so-called “Mount Ehningen” – actually the rubble from the quarry, which is now an enormous flat-topped hill, some 70 metres tall and a couple of hundred metres long. This guy often does test flights of fireworks from the top of the hill, but this time, he got approval from the local Gemeinde to do a full-blown display of some of his newer inventions.

The event had been advertised in the local papers, but I was completely unprepared for the scale: There were cars parked several kms away on the road back from Hildrizhausen: the Feldwege were full of cars all the way down to Ehningen. Ehningen itself was absolutely rammed with parked cars.

The display started as we we descending from Hildrizhausen as we’d got caught behind a tractor. It was still going when we got to Kathryn’s house some 10 minutes later. It was really spectacular – just a pity I didn’t catch any of it with my camera – though that seldom does justice to the display.