The rock labyrinths of Berdorf


2017.04 Rock labyrinths coverI assemble my children at the entrance and give them their instructions: find the way out of the labyrinth by following the numbers from one to seven. There’s no need to climb, and the older ones should look out for their younger siblings.

Then, with wide-eyed excitement and a healthy pinprick of fear, they run off into the narrow crevices.

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Off they go…

A few minutes later I meet them all back at the exit. Their little smiling faces are pockmarked with achievement and their eyes glittering with wonder.

“Can we do it again? Can we do it again PLEASE?” they beg in unison. Of course they can.

Off they go, back to the start, delving into their rocky fairy-tale land once again. And again, and again.

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Which way?

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The Siewenschlüff (“Seven gorges”) is a natural curiosity, that’s for sure. But it is not unique, not here anyway. In the fantasy adventure land otherwise known as the “Mullerthal” region of Luxembourg, there are many of these rock labyrinths, mostly centred around the small tourist village of Berdorf. In this article, we have picked out a few of our favourites, but first it may be interesting to know HOW this bizarre landscape was formed.


An oversimplified geology lesson (skip this if easily bored…)

The letters in (brackets) refer to the diagram below, drawn by my 8-year old daughter.

Millions of years ago, the Mullerthal region was covered by a large sea. Over time, a thick layer of sand (A, initially stretching up to the dotted line) was deposited upon a layer of clay (B). When the sea receded and water starting flowing over the land, the relatively soft sandstone eroded, thus eventually forming the stream-filled valleys (C) and cliffs (D) that we see today. However, when water filters through the permeable sandstone and reaches the watertight layer of clay beneath, it becomes trapped. This layer of water destabilises the rocks around the valley edges, causing sections of sandstone to slip down the valley or break off entirely (E).

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The resulting crevices (F) and caves (G) are a veritable feast for tourists hungry for spectacular and unusual scenery. Labyrinths are formed where these crevices are created at angles to each other. Which brings us neatly to the…


Werschrummschlüff

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Probably the most accessible (and unpronounceable) of our featured rock labyrinths, the Werschrummschlüff is located immediately beside the road between Berdorf and Beaufort. However, most tourists probably explore it by accident, hoping to find a way out to access the pinnacle of the nearby “Predigtstuhl” rock teetering ominously over the road. (Tip: you can’t. To conquer the “Predigtstuhl“, walk back down the road 50 metres, then up the steps).

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The “Predigtstuhl”

Unlike the “Siewenschluff“, there is no pre-numbered way to discover the various crevices here, only the occasional arrow to help you find your way.

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As a result, I often feel that I haven’t fully explored this labyrinth yet, and always find a new (or forgotten about) crevice each time I visit.

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As an added bonus, the higher ground just above the “Werschrumschlüff” is one of the best places in the Mullerthal to see the awesome spring display of wood anemones (anemone nemorosa). Visit on a sunny day in early April to see this natural phenomenon at its very best.

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Gorges du Roitzbach

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Arguably the most spectacular site in the entire Mullerthal region, the Gorges du Roitzbach spill down the valley in a series of labyrinthine crevices. Like the “Siewenschluff“, the larger gorges are numbered but, really, visitors can choose their own way of navigating this maze of towering cliff faces.

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Immediately above, the viewpoint over the Black Ernz valley is one of the most-photographed sights of the Mullerthal, and there is no shortage of curious rock formations and hiking possibilities in the neighbouring area. A campsite, “kiosk” café (summer only) and adventure playground make this one of the most pleasant tourist bases in the region.


Labyrinthe

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The “Labyrinthe” gets the thumbs-up from Child #4

Given the name and the natural history of this region, one may be excused for expecting great things from a gorge named “Labyrinthe“. However, don’t raise your hopes too highly – compared to the others on this list, this is rather tame: a single narrow canyon winding through a rocky landscape.

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At the entrance of the “Labyrinthe”

It may require a fantastical imagination to discover your personal minotaur in here, but the Labyrinthe is, nonetheless, undeniably impressive.  The hike from Berdorf to Echternach is a tourist favourite in this region, and this formation is one of the undoubted highlights of the journey.


Kohlscheuer

Located near the neighbouring village of Condorf, I’ve already mentioned the marvellous cave crevices of the “Kohlscheuer” in my article “Dark Places of the Mullerthal“. But really, these crevices are only part of a larger labyrinth of rocks, with narrow canyons criss-crossing the area in a mind-twisting feat of natural splendour.

Some paths lead to hair-raising rock pinnacles high up in the trees:

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Others underneath crazily wedged boulders:

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And others still into dark, dark caves:

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But just like all the other rock labyrinths featured above, it doesn’t actually matter which path you choose: getting lost is all part of the fun, especially in a landscape this gorgeous.

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(Photo originally published in our “Dark places of the Mullerthal” article)


Where to find them:

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2017.04.02 Labyrinths - Consdorf

(Map credit: www.geoportail.lu)

Other practical information for visiting the rock labyrinths of Berdorf:

  • In case it’s not obvious, this is a rocky and varied landscape. Good hiking shoes  are required to explore the region, and the labyrinths themselves are not suitable for pushchairs or bicycles.
  • The labyrinths are generally safe for kids to explore, but common sense is required. In particular, ensure that your children do not take a wrong turn between gorges 6 and 7 of the “Siewenschlüff”  (a path upwards leads to a sheer cliff edge!). The “Belle vue” at the Kohlscheuer is also not recommended for young children.
  • The Siewenschlüff and Gorges du Roitzbach can be found on the excellent “Walking Tour B2“. You will need to deviate slightly from the path to explore the labyrinths themselves; watch out for the signposts.
  • The Werschrummschlüff, Labyrinthe and Kohlscheuer all lie directly on the  “Mullerthal Trail 2” (which also passes nearby the “Gorges du Roitzbach“).
  • When reading maps or trying to spot signs, please note that the names of the labyrinths (indeed of many rock formations in the area) have multiple spelling variations, e.g. “Werschrummschlüff” (the German variant) is occasionally seen as “Weerschrumschlëff” (the Luxembourgish equivalent). “Kohlscheuer“, in particular, has a zillion different variations. If it’s close enough, it’s probably correct.
  • For more information on the local region, www.mullerthal.lu/en is a great place to start.

This is not a sponsored post. All views, opinions and catastrophic spelling errors are my own.

(c) 2017 Jonathan Orr

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The Helpful Hiker

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Categories: caves, family travel, hiking, luxembourg, natureTags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

43 comments

  1. Thank you very much for your post ! IT IS SO HELPFULL !! I make photos with my 2 years little girl and I need precisely where to go in order not to loose time (and her lool), so THANK YOU VERY MUCH 🙂

  2. My little son asked me to take him to this place. I was searching for instruction and then I found your blog. For a short trip, I think this place is the best. Exploring the hills will be so amazing. Besides the natural beauties of this place is also charming.

  3. I loved the geology lesson and your daughter’s drawing, so fascinating! It looks like an amazing place to explore, where your imagination really can run wild. It’s also great that you can return again and again and keep on finding new corners and crevices. That last photo with the light through the trees is stunning. Thank you so much for sharing this post with us. #adventurecalling

  4. How cool!! My boys would love to explore this place, however, as soon as I read sheer cliff, I’m not so sure, I would love to let them… ha ha! The photos of your little guy among the flowers is beyond precious! #farawayfiles

  5. That looks practically otherworldly – such fantastic shapes in the rock. Huge fun to explore… #farawayfiles

  6. What a fantastic day out. I think children like getting ‘lost’ which is why mazes are so appealing to them! They look like they are having a brilliant time. #FarawayFiles

    • Ha ha, yes I think you’re correct. Kids love getting lost… as long as they have a safety net (i.e. parents not too far away). These labyrinths are perfect for giving that sense of exploration and discovery without too much fear. Thanks for reading!

  7. Looks like a lot of fun for everyone. I particularly like the The “Predigtstuhl” and its precarious position over the road. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • Yep, that one is going to fall sometime… and I drive underneath it several times every week!! But it has been around for several million years already so I’m hoping it can hang on in there for the remainder of my time on earth at least 😉

  8. These look amazing! There’s a couple of dodgy looking rocks too! Great fun, I’m sure. #adventurecalling

  9. My kids (and their parents!) would love to explore these rock labyrinths. We love this kind of outdoor adventurous fun. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  10. Love this. Reminds me of the Kungsklyftan in Fjällbacka, Sweden – although there was only one and not nearly as many to explore there. I love the excitement when your kids made it through. And the wood anemones! I just sought them out here in Denmark – so delightful. Thanks for sharing and the geology lesson! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin #FarawayFiles

  11. What a beautiful place thanks for sharing. gorgeous pictures #adventurecalling 👌

  12. What an amazing area to explore. Just when I was wondering about their formation you provide a very useful overview complete with awesome home drawn illustration. It’s great that some are number so you can have a kind of treasure hunt but I also like that others aren’t because, as you say, you’ll always keep discovering new nooks and crevices. Thanks for joining us on #adventurecalling

    • Thanks. I felt that scenery THIS weird needed some sort of geological explanation to put it in context. Unfortunately I am the worst artist in the world, but luckily my daughter stepped in to draw the scene and (hopefully) make it all a bit clearer. Thanks for hosting the #AdventureCalling linky – I think I’m going to enjoy this one!

  13. Wow! That looks like an amazing place, not just for kids but for adults as well. My kids would love that! Stunning and adventurous!
    #adventurecalling

  14. Wow what an amazing place for an adventure, think big kids like me would enjoy that too 🙂 #adventurecalling

  15. Sounds like you had a great time exploring labyrinths. 🙂 #AdventureCalling

  16. This place looks amazing. And I loved the geology lesson 🙂

    #adventurecalling

    • Thanks. I feel like I had a geology lesson too; trying to summarise how these labyrinths were formed in a concise and easy-to-digest manner was not easy! 😉 Thanks also for co-hosting the #AdventureCalling linky.

  17. Popping back from #adventurecalling – great post. Sarah

  18. What an amazing place. I love geocaching for it takes us to places of interest like this. #CountryKids

  19. These look fantastic and I am certain that I have a little man who would love to explore them! You never know we may be driving through Luxembourg later on in the year so I will have to look these up if we do! #CountryKids

  20. Drooling over how lovely the place is! The lines on the rocks and how they are scuplted by nature. Amazing place for kids to experience =) #countrykids

  21. Stunning photos, especially the last one, and great geology lesson too – your daughter’s drawing is very impressive! My four would LOVE to explore these labyrinths and crevices. What an incredible natural playground!
    #CountryKids

  22. That’s a superb and thorough post, thank you 🙂 We’re big geology fans here! #countrykids

  23. Amazing collection of photos. The scenery is stunning. #countrykids

  24. Wow – that looks incredible! So dramatic. And so much fun! #countrykids

  25. Oh wow! What an amazing place to explore. Those rocks look amazing!
    #CountryKids

  26. These look like such exciting places to explore, it’s fab that you’ve got such interesting places to visit and explore. I don’t know that I’d have the courage to go squeezing through all those small crevices in the dark, I’m so impressed at how your lot all handled it so well! It’s great that because there’s so many crevices and hiding places you feel like you could explore the labyrinths for days, the perfect feeling for kids making them want to go back exploring again and again.

    Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids

  27. There are rock formations very similar to this in Tunbridge Wells, UK. We went to Friezland woods a couple of years ago to have a wander through. Love your photos. Sarah #CountryKids

    • I just googled that – indeed they are very similar! Both are results of sandstone erosion, hence the similarity. But the Luxembourg rocks are free of charge so I think I’ll stay here! 😉

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