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Anger over fines for hikers in the Siebengebirge

Trail along the Ofenkaulen : Anger over parking tickets for hikers in the Siebengebirge

The history of the Ofenkaulen is known beyond the borders of the region. And also attracted a couple from the Bergisches Land to the Siebengebirge. However, their hike along the tunnel system ended with a hefty fine.

The history of the Ofenkaulen is known beyond the borders of the region. And also attracted a couple from the Bergisches Land to the Siebengebirge. However, their hike along the tunnel system ended with a hefty fine.
Receiving a parking ticket for an illegally parked car has become a painful experience for many visitors to the Siebengebirge in recent weeks. In particular at the monastery Heisterbach the Königswinterer order office has rigorously towed away wrong parkers again and again - particularly at weekends.

But: In times of the pandemic, when recreation seekers frequent the Siebengebirge in even greater numbers than already, the law enforcers pay particular attention to ensuring that visitors comply with the rules in the Siebengebirge nature reserve (NSG). A pair of hikers from the Bergisches Land region, for example, now has to pay a fine of 55 Euro.

Ofenkaulen have an eventful history

The visitors from the neighboring region were on a walking trail not far from the Ofenkaulen. The well-sealed tunnel system, located not far from Petersberg, was once used for quarrying stone, and later during the Nazi era as an underground armory for weapons production, as well as a refuge for the people of Königswinter during the last days of the war.

The myths surrounding it are also known outside the Siebengebirge, reports Ursula Meyer (name changed) in an interview with the General-Anzeiger. "We didn't even intend to get inside the Ofenkaulen. We just wanted to hike along it," Meyer says.

But out of nowhere, according to the experienced hiker, two men suddenly stood (up) in front of her and her husband and asked for their particulars. "We thought it was because of Corona. But then they told us we were on an unpaved trail and therefore had to pay a fine," Meyer said.

The two law enforcement officers didn't show their IDs, he said. Only when they took the mail out of the mailbox days later, the hikers saw that they had been made aware by employees of the Office for Environmental and Nature Protection of the Rhine-Sieg District that they had used an illegal path.

Case is known to the district administration

Daniela Blumenthaler, spokeswoman of the Rhine-Sieg district, confirms on GA inquiry that it is the co-workers of the office for environment and nature protection of the Rhine-Sieg district who are the issuers of the fine. The described case at the Ofenkaulen is well-known to the circle administration, so Blumenthaler.

From the point of view of the district, the path situation around the closed tunnel system not far from the Petersberg is clearly regulated: "The path is easily recognizable as a path not to be entered," Blumenthaler explained. It is "no secret," the spokeswoman said, that many trails in the Siebengebirge nature reserve are not official paths, but at best trails that have been created by excessive use by mountain bikers, for example.

"There is extensive signage in the area," Blumenthaler said. It was precisely these signs, however, that the visitors from the Bergisches Land had not noticed, by their own admission.

According to the trail plan for the Siebengebirge nature reserve (NSG), hiking - away from public roads - is only permitted on the trails marked in red there, the district spokeswoman reports. Likewise the paths, which may be driven on with the bicycle, are specified there - in yellow represented. On the hiking boards in the Siebengebirge, of which there are about 55 according to the district, which are located at all hiking parking lots and at important access points, these paths are marked (also in red and yellow).

Markings on trees and on sign posts

The individual trails are further marked at each trail junction: Permitted hiking trails are marked with a red triangle, and trails permitted for bicycling are marked with a yellow triangle. "Trails and paths that are not marked may not be biked or walked on," Blumenthaler said.

The marking is usually sprayed on trees, he said, and in isolated cases it is also affixed as stickers to sign posts. Since the marking is faded now after well on five years in many cases, it is to be renewed this year, announced the circle speaker.

And: On the way stone markers further represented the recommended approved ways including the destinations and distance data. The numbers and letters embedded there in the stone discs indicate the number of the hiking suggestions, as they are contained in the hiking guide Siebengebirge or in the brochure Geowanderungen Siebengebirge.

Reasons for parking tickets not comprehensible

The hiking trails and trail numbers can also be found in the hiking map for the Siebengebirge Nature Park. The brochures and books are available in local bookstores. Additional signage and information is in preparation, he said.
"This trail was not created recently by mountain bikers," Ursula Meyer explained. "It has certainly been around for decades," she surmised. Although she and her life partner cannot understand the reasons for the parking ticket, they have paid the fine. But they fear that more hikers will fall into this parking ticket trap.
"People will continue to walk through there. There are no paved paths there at all as indicated in the NSG ordinance," Meyer finds. For her, one thing is certain: "They won't see us in Königswinter anymore."

The path plan and also the specifications for the nature reserve are available at www.bezreg-koeln.nrw.de/brk_internet/leistungen/abteilung05/51/naturschutz/naturschutzgebiete/uebersicht/index.html.

Parking for Visitors

Parking fines in the old town
Not only at the Heisterbach monastery, but also at the bus parking lot (P 1) on the main street in the old town, the employees of the public order office handed out parking tickets to illegal parkers. Readers criticized the city's actions, not least because the pandemic meant that coaches could not drive and therefore could not use the parking lot. However, a release for passenger cars is not possible, explained department head Heike Jüngling. The parking area is also urgently needed as a turning and maneuvering area for large vehicles and heavy goods traffic whose dimensions exceed the clearance height of the "Am Steinchen" underpass. They would have to turn around at this parking area at the latest in order not to block the main road towards Rhöndorf.

The Ovens

History reaches back to the late Middle Ages
Since the late Middle Ages, trachyte has been quarried at the Ofenkaulen for the construction of the Königswinter baking ovens.

This tunnel system, which in some places has several levels, has a varied history: In addition to the history of stone quarrying and the trade of the oven builders, which extends into the 20th century, this also includes agricultural and forestry uses around the Ofenkaulberg as well as the dark chapter of an armaments company, which was relocated to the tunnels during the Second World War.

Today, the Ofenkaulberg is the focus of bat research. Access to the tunnel systems is prohibited, the entrances are blocked.

Original text: Mario Quadt

Translation: Mareike Graepel