On the road – discovering so much around Basel (to the southwest)

Discovering treasures, while being forced to just walk around Basel

From April to August this year some surgeries forced me to stay at home. So I walked and walked and walked around my hometown Basel. Almost every day, I started at my house – alone, with a group of Nordic Walkers guided by two Austrians, with friends or with family members. Often it were foreigners that unveiled new treasures to me that I had not noticed before, though have lived in Basel since three years old.

After having blogged about the treasures of the Bruderholz south of Basel, let me continue with the hill of Allschwil/Binningen and the creek “Birsig” in the southwest.


Source: Bundesamt für Landestopographie 213T Basel – 1:50’0000


Friedrich Oser – a priest and a poet in Biel-Benken

Just above Biel-Benken there is a memorial for Friedrich Oser who became a priest here in 1884. Friedrich Oser wrote poems that were set to music and are well-known with German speaking choirs. Friedrich Oser is a very local celebrity, and he has a memorial just above Benken…


… with a great view of the Blauen, part of the “Faltenjura” or Jura mountain range with folded layers (as opposed to the “Tafeljura” or Jura consisting of plateaus, sometimes called “Tabular Jura”).

My friends from Austria showed to me that it takes just a 90 minutes to walk from my home to Biel-Benken, and they introduced me to Frîedrich Oser.


Biel-Benken is a charming twin village (Biel and Benken) that has kept its rural character. There are two excellent restaurants, Heyer and Zihlmann. We shared an excellent lunch in the quiet and shady garden of Heyer.


The “Löliwald” or literally “dumbass forest” near Biel-Benken (then I find out “Löli” means “grove” and not “idiot”) 

A friend from England, Adrian, invited me to walk from Oberwil to Biel-Benken – he knows a romantic path through the wheat and rape fields along the creek Birsig.


The path crosses the Löliwald, and ends in Biel-Benken, where all streets are labeled “Löli”: Löliring or Lölimattweg etc.


I laugh out  loudly. “What is so funny about “Löli”, what does it mean?”,  Adrian asks. “Hm, something like “idiot” or “dumbass””, I answer, “and “Löli” is different from “Glünggi” – do you not know the famous song of Mani Matter  “Schimpfwörter sy Glüggssach“.  Later I find the toponomastic reason for the name “Löli”: It is said to relate to “Loch” (German) or “Lucus” (Latin) =”Grove” (in German: “Hain”) describing a light forest of oak and beech trees. I also find a bleak story about a murder in the Löliwald that happened here in 1913. The Internet tells me, there are more “Löli”-forests in Switzerland, and they must all be groves – no, there is no congestion of Löli or idiots in them.


French lunch culture in a cosy garden in Neuwiller

From Biel-Benken, Adrian and I continue our walk through the forest to France. On the French side, we oscillate on a muddy path that vanishes in a swampy meadow. Guided by two ladies with a mastiff, we eventually find the path that takes us to the village of Neuwiller. In the garden of  the Auberge de Neuwiller , we celebrate a great French lunch – three courses and  an Edelzwicker (blended white wine from the Alsace). I feel like being far, far away from Basel and Switzerland. And an hour later, we are back in Oberwil and in Switzerland – a straight hiking trail connects the two villages (no border check points here).



Later I come back to Neuwiller with Barbara, enjoying a lovely zander fish with Riesling sauce accompanied by a glass of Alsacian Riesling. We notice there is a “Grenzwaggle” (border walk) of 12km around Neuwiller that I might explore later.


With Barbara I walk back the 2.5km from Neuwiller to Biel-Benken. Now I easily find the muddy path that vanishes in the swampy meadow and I guide a group of lost hikers through it. Half an hour later, we reach the hill above Biel-Benken and the lovely view of the mountain range Blauen and the ruin of Landskrone in the south.



The nature reserve Herzogenmatt – a small gem

While walking on the hill of Allschwil/Binningen, I also came across the Herzogenmatt. This is a nature reserve close to Allschwil. The website tells proudly about the rare species of amphibians living here.

This romantic path leads through the nature reserve Herzogenmatt. We count seven wooden bridges crossing the creek.


An artist has created this scuplture – maybe dwarfs are protected here as well?


The path ends near this pond with white and pink water roses and with water lillies.


The Herzogenmatt is a small gem just half an hour away from my home… and I only discover it this summer.


A short walk from Herzogenmatt to the water tower of Allschwil

From far, I had always admired the elegant water tower of Allschwil. With my 1:25’000 Swiss topo map, I find it tucked away in the forest. It is not far from Herzogenmatt. It was built in the 1970’s and is open in the afternoon on weekends .



Vo Schönebuech bis Ammel

Vo Schönebuech bis Ammel ” – this is the song of the Baselbiet or “rural Basel” (Baselland). Schönenbuch is on one edge of it and Ammel is on the other edge (Rural Basel separated from Basel Town in 1833 – there was a revolution of the farmers against the patricians in town).

Schönenbuch is a two hours’ walk from my home and a short hour from the watertower of Allschwil.


On the way to Schönenbuch (or in Swiss German “Schönebuech”), there is a romantic bridge across the Mühlebach. Note the yellow signs marking the official hiking trail. There is a dense network of well marked hiking trails in Switzerland.


I have never been at Schönenbuch before. I find a quiet village on a hill. There are farms, mansions, family homes, a restaurant and a small church.


Watch out for cats in this idyllic village – please drive slowly, this road sign says.


One of the farms sells freshly picked cherries. I buy some cherries and eat them sitting at the table in front of the farm.


The green ordinary Basel town bus 33 connects Schönenbuch with Allschwil and Basel.


More treasures – the footpath along the Mühlebach (mill creek) leading to the Mühli in Allschwil

My friends from Austria unveil another secret to me. Not far from the Allschwil water tower there is a romantic footpath along the Mühlebach to the center of Allschwil. The Mühlebach is the creek that drove water mills.


We reach the gorgeous village center of Allschwil with its timbered houses and the restaurant Mühli , where the millwheel is still turning. There is a garden behind the watermill. I remember that 13 years ago I had an excellent dinner in a restaurant near a watermill – this was in Homs in Syria where the watermills uplifted water to the fields high above the river. Are the mills of Homs still turning? Maybe I should plan a dinner in this garden, when the summer rainfalls of this year will stop to remember my evening in Homs and think of the people in Syria.


Our target for lunch today is the Jägerstübli, one of the rustic restaurants at the center square (Dorfplatz) of Allschwil.


There are more walks around Basel…

These are some highlights I found on the hill of Binningen/Allschwil. I discovered more great places and treasures around Basel, and I will continue to tell about them.



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