The market place in Calw, which is the starting point and finishing point of our tour, is a friendly, leisurely venue in the beautiful town where Hermann Hesse was born. Idyllic half-timbered houses with charming cafés line the stone-paved square. Hesse himself once waxed lyrical about Calw, describing it as the most beautiful town between Bremen and Naples, Vienna and Singapore. He might have had a point!
First of all we walk up through Salzgasse (which leads to the Pleasure Trail) and enter Calw’s municipal park with its Poetry Path enveloped in the green resplendence of its vegetation. The literary writings of the well-known author Hermann Hesse accompany us for a few metres of the path. We finally leave the park by the steps, crossing the Schießbach stream via a wooden bridge. Beneath the shade of the leafy canopy we arrive at the information board, which is the official starting point of the Pleasure Trail. We have another quick look especially at the photos. It won’t be long before we are there directly in person. We are ready to go!
The trail starts with a narrow path that leads us steadily uphill through the invigoratingly green mixed woodland. We climb up via several flat stone treads and pass a huge tree by the wayside. A few metres further on, we reach the first superb vantage point: the “Gimpelstein”. From this fissured red sandstone rock we have a magnificent view of Calw and the Nagold valley. The table-shaped rock formation is ideal for a leisurely breather, but soon we continue on our way to explore the glorious countryside above Calw.
We bear left and continue our walk along a hillside path. In the process we have to overcome a couple of almost Alpine sections on what is known as the “Felsenweg” (“Rock Path”). Then we cross a forest path and very soon stumble across the Calw scaffold , a round sandstone platform, with the replica of a sword mounted on top. The stone platform was built in 1800 and was used by the town of Calw up until 1818 as a place of execution. A display board provides detailed information about the scaffold. A gruesome place!
After walking 100 m along a soft wood-chip track, we reach a gravel path, which we then follow for about 2 km. At the next information board we bear left and walk down the steep path. It is an awesome section, which confronts us with tree roots, sticks and stones and leads us via a few steps into a veritable natural idyll.
The Rötelbach stream winds its way down the Rötelbach valley through a wonderful natural landscape. We walk directly along by the water brushing the trees that appear to be veritably clinging to the mossy, plant-lined banks of the stream. We encounter angular stone formations and gnarled roots. The babbling of the water has a calming effect. We reach the other side of the stream by means of a wooden bridge and continue for a few metres further. Finally we quietly take our leave of the idyllic valley and climb the path uphill. This brings us to a forest path, which leads us directly to the “ Stubenfelsen” .
A detour to the left brings us to the foot of the bizarre red sandstone formation. Fancy testing your courage? A narrow crevice, about 2 m long, invites us to pass through it. But remember: popular wisdom says that anybody who has cheated will be crushed between the rocks. Back on track, we climb past an impressive rock formation in the direction of Lützenhardt. Moss-grown stones line our path or function as steps to make the ascent easier for us. The path leads on upwards past mighty rock formations and finally leaves the woods. Now that we have reached the top, we walk through lush meadows and field scenery with a fantastic view over the tree tops and finally arrive in Lützenhardt.
Here we cross the village street and quickly find ourselves once again on a leisurely meadow path, which takes us alongside long fields into the woods. We follow the path through the shady spinney until we finally reach the hikers’ hostel “Wanderheim” in Zavelstein . Beautifully situated at the edge of the woods and with a heavenly beer garden, the restaurant presents a welcome opportunity to fortify ourselves and give our walking feet a rest.
Finally we resume our journey and, after leaving the woods, encounter a covered wooden bench. Even though we have just had a break, we should pause here for a moment and enjoy the peace and quiet. We have a magnificent view across meadows and fields of the borough of Speßhardt, which belongs to Calw. A few minutes later the trail leads down into the village and then out again to the right. Passing orchard meadows, we subsequently enter the woods again and arrive at the wild boar compound via a forest path . From there we can also make a short detour to the “ Wölflesbrunnen” (“Wolf’s Well”) , where in earlier times people travelling home from Calw stopped to collect water to take it home for house and farm.
We leave the wild boar compound behind us and about 500 m later come upon a barbecue area . How about a breather? It’s an inviting spot to have a rest. We then continue on the soft wood-chip track, at the end of which we bear right. Information boards, which provide an informative overview of the old woodland trades in the region, line the trail as it gradually descends. At the stone bench we turn right and follow the Schießbach stream back to our starting point. Now we can wind up our walking tour by stopping off in the heart of Calw for a bite to eat.