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On the tracks of Ilse spring and "Little Rothaar"

· 2 reviews · from Stefanie Stoltenberg · October 13, 2020 · Travelog · Siegerland-Wittgenstein
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  • Source of the river Ilse
    Source of the river Ilse
    Photo: Michael Bahr, CC0, Touristikverband Siegerland-Wittgenstein e.V.
It is wonderfully quiet; all we can hear is a bird twittering high above in a thick, gnarly old tree. The leaves rustle gently and then we hear a steady bubbling sound. The air is damp – we breathe in deep; it smells wonderfully of forest and water.

On the way to the Ilse spring

We are hiking far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, through the forest, past the beautiful trees and wild bushes, over colourful fallen leaves on the soft forest floor. At first glance, the enchanted Ilsequelle spring near Heiligenborn is inconspicuous. We look closer and suddenly discover so much: The cool waters bubble up incessantly from the ground, collecting to form a little stream, the Ilse. The spring’s ancient stone surround is covered in bright green moss. The unspoilt plants look soft; various shades of green shimmer under the clear, cold water. Colourful leaves and bright blossoms provide cheerful splashes of colour. We notice how idyllic this place is, where you can really feel the tranquillity of the forest and the power of nature. Perhaps this is also because you can only come here on foot.
Spa · Bad Laasphe
Ilsequelle
Bad Laasphe

Ein ganz besonderer Platz - Die heilige Ilsequelle im bezaubernden Ilsetal(Die Anfänge des ...

from Petra Markus,   Touristikverband Siegerland-Wittgenstein e.V.
The picturesque location in the middle of a sea of trees seems mythical and enchants us with a very special energy. The name Heiligenborn, meaning Holy Spring, already suggests this. In the Late Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern era, people – like us today – felt that the water at this bubbling little stream in the heart of nature was different, special. It was said to have healing powers and, at that time, the Heilige Ilsequelle (Holy Ilse Spring) became one of the most famous holy springs in Middle Europe. Lots of visitors from afar made the pilgrimage to the Ilsequelle spring to ease their suffering or even to find a cure. The drank the holy water and bathed in a specially-built bathing pond.
As time went by, this special place was gradually forgotten but there are still many people who appreciate the water from the spring. According to tests, it really is unusual because, like the water from the miraculous spring in Lourdes, the water supposedly turns clockwise and is thus positively polarised. Many say that this is what makes this spring different from normal water and that it is not only delicious but also healing. Animals also feel the power of this water and particularly like to refresh themselves here, as we see two small birds doing, bathing and romping about in the shallows.
Source of the river Ilse
Source of the river Ilse

On foot on wide paths

In any case, the spring is worth visiting, regardless of whether you believe in its healing powers or not, because it is undoubtedly beautiful. A very special place where we gladly take a break on our hike. Benches and tables invite you to relax and take a break or enjoy a delicious picnic. Lots of hiking trails cross here – with something to suit every taste. “Der Weg der Sinne” (The Way of the Senses), the 154 km long Rothaarsteig, one of the most beautiful mountain trails in Europe, passes right by the Ilsequelle spring. The famous long distance hiking trail runs from Brilon in Sauerland, across the Rothaar Mountains through Wittgenstein and Siegerland to Dillenburg in Hesse.

The E1 European long-distance path also runs along the Ilse for a few kilometres. Hikes pass through parts if the Ilse Valley along the Lahnwanderweg, a hiking trail that follows the River Lahn. The sources of the Lahn, Sieg and Eder rivers are also close by. That is why the region is often called QuellenReich (SpringRich), and there are many legends and stories about this special place.

Long Distance Hiking · Siegen-Wittgenstein
Rothaarsteig vom Lahnhof bis nach Wilgersdorf
Top moderate Stage 7
18 km
4:45 h
212 m
327 m

Die Rothaarsteig-Etappe vom Lahnhof bis nach Wilgersdorf führt - vorbei an der Ilsequelle im Wittgensteiner Bergland, über den Jagdberg auf die ...

2
from Rothaarsteigverein e. V.,   Touristikverband Siegerland-Wittgenstein e.V.
Top moderate Stage 1 open
14.3 km
4:15 h
244 m
459 m

We start at the birthplace of the river Lahn! Because the Lahn hiking trail sets off from the source of the Lahn at an altitude of 606 m in the ...

5
from Lahntal Tourismus Verband e. V.,   Lahntal Tourismus Verband e. V.
We head a little further on to Banfetal, where the summit reaches an altitude of 694 metres, providing a magnificent view. The mountain is one of the highest summits in Wittgenstein’s mountain landscape and is immediately south east of the Isarquelle spring. We then come to Weidelbacher Weiher pond, a romantic spot, especially when the water lilies are in bloom and the water is emblazoned with their colours. We reach it in just a few minutes as we hike downhill following the Ilse through its idyllic, narrow valley and then cross the mountain ridge before Weidelbacher Haupt at an altitude of 584 metres. The picturesque Weidelbachtal valley runs parallel to the Ilsetal valley and also enchants us with its unspoilt natural surroundings.

A magical experience with the "Little Rothaar"

So we want to find out if what they say about the Kleiner Rothaar Märchenwanderweg (Fairytale Hiking Trail) is true: That it is so beautiful and enchanting that special visitors can sometimes be seen there. Shh, what was that? There was a flash of something red in the bushes and then it disappeared again. Could it have been the “Kleine Rothaar” (Little Red-Head), we ask ourselves? The little goblin about whom so many stories are told and is said to live in the ancient forest near the Ilsequelle spring? Our little companion in child’s shoes is sure he saw the goblin and wants to know more. We head off to explore.

“Hallo, my name is “Kleine Rothaar”. Here, in the land of a thousand mountains, there used to be many red-haired goblins like me - which is why they are called the Rothaar (Red-Haired) Mountains, I think ...”, or so the story goes.

Fairytale hiking trail
Fairytale hiking trail "Little Rothaar"
We follow the exciting and mystical loop trail, which also passes right by the holy spring and runs along or crosses the Rothaarsteig a number of times along the way. The 2.5 kilometre long Märchenwanderweg (Fairytale Hiking Trail) takes about 90 minutes with stops and will whisk you away to a world of its own: Namely the secret realm of the ancient Spring Sorcerer.
Thematic Trail · Bad Laasphe
Märchenwanderweg "Kleiner Rothaar"
Top easy open
1.8 km
1:30 h
62 m
62 m

Hallo, ich heiße "Kleiner Rothaar". Hier im Land der tausend Berge, gab es vor Urzeiten viele rothaarige Kobolde wie mich - deshalb heißt es ja ...

1
from Petra Markus,   Touristikverband Siegerland-Wittgenstein e.V.
The tiny, red-haired goblin, Kleine Rothaar, takes visitors young and old to meet his friend Otti, an unusual lizard, along a narrow path through his forest. The mystical path enchants us with hidden little spots, treasure chests and lost of mythical experiences. During the hike, we read the legend of the Spring Sorcerer, who many years ago lived here in the realm of the thousand mountains in hidden books.
In this fascinating natural world, children are active all by themselves using very simple means: Finding treasure chests, reading stories and re-enacting these using things found in the forest. Here, in the secret realm of the Spring Sorcerer, we build tipis with the little ones using twigs and branches, light-heartedly search for water using a divining rod and experience the legend of the Spring Sorcerer. We laugh as we build funny forest faces made of pine sap, leaves and moss. Using the natural conditions, Kleine Rothaar also teaches us to appreciate and care for nature in a playful manner.
Fairytale hiking trail
Fairytale hiking trail "Little Rothaar"
And the picnic area right by the legendary Ilsequelle spring with its comfy forest sofas is perfect of anyone who is tired from all the playing and conquering, with fresh spring water included! And where there is water, you can of course get wet. It’s a good thing we have a change of clothes with us...

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Stefanie Stoltenberg
Updated: October 13, 2020


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Spa · Bad Laasphe
Ilsequelle
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Ein ganz besonderer Platz - Die heilige Ilsequelle im bezaubernden Ilsetal(Die Anfänge des ...

from Petra Markus,   Touristikverband Siegerland-Wittgenstein e.V.
Thematic Trail · Bad Laasphe
Märchenwanderweg "Kleiner Rothaar"
Top easy open
1.8 km
1:30 h
62 m
62 m

Hallo, ich heiße "Kleiner Rothaar". Hier im Land der tausend Berge, gab es vor Urzeiten viele rothaarige Kobolde wie mich - deshalb heißt es ja ...

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from Petra Markus,   Touristikverband Siegerland-Wittgenstein e.V.
Long Distance Hiking · Siegen-Wittgenstein
Rothaarsteig vom Lahnhof bis nach Wilgersdorf
Top moderate Stage 7
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Die Rothaarsteig-Etappe vom Lahnhof bis nach Wilgersdorf führt - vorbei an der Ilsequelle im Wittgensteiner Bergland, über den Jagdberg auf die ...

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from Rothaarsteigverein e. V.,   Touristikverband Siegerland-Wittgenstein e.V.
Top moderate Stage 1 open
14.3 km
4:15 h
244 m
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We start at the birthplace of the river Lahn! Because the Lahn hiking trail sets off from the source of the Lahn at an altitude of 606 m in the ...

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from Lahntal Tourismus Verband e. V.,   Lahntal Tourismus Verband e. V.
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