I should not have watched Hot Fuzz.
(For those who have not seen it, a spoiler follows this sentence.) Set in a quiet English village, Hot Fuzz is a funny but gory action film about a metropolitan cop moving from fast-paced London to a place where no murders have been recorded for twenty years. He eventually uncovers the reason for the anomaly – a vigilante group kills and covers up all threats to the village’s serenity.
Hence my expedition to a small, serene village in the Black Forest this week had me looking over my shoulder more than one occasion.
The Black Forest is exquisitely beautiful. Over an area of 6009 km² in south-western Germany, waterfalls and fast-flowing rivers wind and rush through the hills, descending towards the cute towns that have sprouted in the valleys. In every direction, thick forest dominates the skyline. Tall pines shoot high towards the sky and block out the sun. Underneath, only the places of since-felled trees allow sunlight to reach the forest floor.
In the untouched areas, darkness reigns. The forest’s simple name comes from the Romans who knew the German forest to be the darkest around – which makes hiding things in these dense woods really easy. It is simple to get disoriented once you venture into the forest proper. Where it not for the general rule ‘Walk downhill to reach a town’ and Google Maps, I may have spent a few extra nights in the German wilderness. In the forest, it is just as easy to find a place of your own, away from any other humans and potentially untouched for a while.
While I did not come across any abandoned cars, men with shovels or suspicious mounds on my adventures into the hills, the total sense of detachment of the forest is most certainly eery to a city person. Besides the occasional rumble of a motorcycle winding through the roads below, up in the hills the only sounds are the crunch of pine leaves under foot and the faint chirps of sparrows. Hence why Heinrich Pommerencke managed to string together so many awful crimes in the 1950s.
However few other crimes have occurred (or least been reported) and in bustling Europe, having a chance to enter a quieter world is worth the trouble. In Oppenau, where I stayed, the ruins of a 12th century abbey and nearby waterfalls are the closest tourist attractions 8km away. This allows for an uneventful but relaxing walk along the small Leirbach river. After following the all-terrain path, the All Saints Waterfalls reveal themselves. There are more impressive falls in Europe however the All Saints falls and abbey behind are a perfect place for a quiet lunch.
The duo’s aura are perhaps much like the rest of the Black Forest: reserved and peaceful, with relaxation rather than thrills the main attraction. Clean air, amazing natural sights and the sounds of nature make the Black Forest a worthwhile travel option.
Even if one of those sounds is the Grim Reaper dwelling in the hills.