Just outside the walls of Bilstein Castle in Olpe, the virgin forests of future are growing – the old stock of oak and beech trees is a designated wilderness forest. Since 1976, no management measures have been carried out in a 14.7-hectare pocket of natural forest. In 2013, another 44.5 hectares were designated as wilderness forest and thus also taken out of commercial use.
Bilstein Castle is conspicuously located high above the Veischede Valley. Once the seat of the noble lords of Gevore and later the first administrative headquarters of the District of Olpe, which was founded in 1817, it is today one of the most popular youth hostels in Westfalen-Lippe. The castle is perched on the flank of the Rosenberg Mountain, whose old deciduous forests are preparing to become a "primeval forest of tomorrow". The rock on which the castle stands is of volcanic origin. However, the nature reserve holds not only the widespread species-poor Woodrush-Beech Forest community, but also more demanding forest communities such as the Millet Grass-Woodrush-Beech Forest and Sweet Woodruff-Beech Forest. Long-established residents of old-growth forests like the Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Black Woodpecker have recently been joined by the rare Middle Spotted Woodpecker.
The Hoher Bracht is worth visiting. From the observation tower, the view eastward extends across the ridges of the Rothaargebirge until the Kahler Asten mountain, while to the west it reaches to the highest elevations of the Ebbegebirge and south to the heights of the Westerwald. For people with limited mobility, a nearly one-kilometre-long circular trail with hardly any barriers has been set up in the surroundings of the tower.
Bilstein Castle (345 m)
32U 431302 5661010
Not only the climb to the castle is steep; the circular trail also includes a lengthy ascent. Although the path is paved and well-constructed, sturdy shoes are recommended just in case of rain. Orientation in the area is easy. The entire trail is marked as A 22.
all notes on protected areas
The best route to Bilstein is via the B55 trunk road.
Address for satnavs: Amtshausplatz, Bilstein (Lennestadt)
GPS (UTM): 32 U 431425, 5660818
Google coordinates: 51.094756, 8.020685
There is a car park in Bilstein. Steep steps lead up to the castle and the starting point of the circular trail.
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike
In wet weather, sturdy footwear is recommended.
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