The Mill Path between the Monastery Himmerod, Eichelhütte and Eisenschmitt

The upper valley of the river Salm is very interesting, both historically and geologically. Once our ancestors found iron ore deposits. Soil analyzes have shown that iron must have been manufactured here since the 6th - 4th century BC – the iron age.
As you hike the Mill Path through the wonderful meadows of the Salm valley, you may be interested to know that this valley was an important cross-border economic area for many centuries.

The founding of the abbey

The Cistercians from Clairvaux, who founded Himmerod Abbey in 1138, brought new knowledge about agriculture and the utilization of natural resources to the area. Since there were red sandstone rich in iron ore on both banks of the Salm, it was only a matter of time before iron smelting and related trades - like the open cast mining of iron ore, the use of water power and charcoal production - gained in importance.

Ironworks and open-cast mining

The ironworks of the neighbouring village Eisenschmitt, well documented since 1372, were the oldest in the Eifel region and the most important of the archdiocese of Trier. Clues suggest that an iron worker (“ferrarius”) was already working at the Abbey from around the year 1200. However, historians believe that open-cast mining for iron ore in the area goes back much further, dating right back to the 6th - 4th century BC. As you leave the village of Eichelhütte, in the direction of Eisenschmitt, you will pass a valley called “Zimmerseifen”, which takes its names from an ancient process of obtaining iron ore.

Water power

As you hike on through the beautiful meadows of the Salm Valley, the Mill Path will lead you along man-made mill canals. These “canals” served as water storage reservoirs and weirs and were needed to regulate the water supply for the mill wheels. They were designed to power flour, oil and timber mills as well as drive the hammer mills and blast-furnace bellows of the ironworks. Of, at least, six original water “power stations”, three are still in use; these days as power stations in the modern sense, generating electricity for the communities of Himmerod and Eichelhütte. The water power station in the Hotel Molitorsmühle is producing electricity since 1889! Yes, that’s right, since eighteenhundert and ninetyeight!

The production of charcoal

Without charcoal, a fuel which burns at higher temperatures than the wood from which it is made, neither the smelting of iron nor the blacksmith’s work would have been possible. From prehistoric times, charcoal was already being produced locally for this purpose and numerous circular platforms, known as charcoal maker slabs, remind us of the charcoal makers' locations in the woods to either side of the river Salm.

Free your imagination

Although little remains to be seen today, as you are hiking on the Mill path, imagine passing four enormous, fuming blast furnaces, five weirs, two iron ore - open cast mines and the charcoal maker slabs, to get a flavour of the industry that once thrived here.

From here we recommend a diverse walk of one to two hours through meadows, wetlands and woods, alongside the mill canals and the natural streams, which meander through this lovely valley.

You may consider between different hiking trails, take the great mill path or shorten the hiking by using shortcuts.

You may choose the great mill path when you want to explore the valley. The path leads you from the hotel via Himmerod and via Eisenschmitt – after 4 miles – back to the start.

Or you may choose the small mill path when you have arrived after a long journey, when you fancy a short walk after a good meal or when you are looking forward to enjoy the lapping of the water in the creek and the peace in nature. This path is just 1 mile and roughly 30 minutes long and has no difficulties, no real increases and descents.

In order to get an first impression of the small mill path you are invited to watch the following video:

Click here when you want to download the leaflet of the great mill path.

And click here when you want more information on other hiking trails in the surroundings of the Hotel Molitorsmühle.

We wish you a good rest and lots of lovely walks in our beautiful surroundings!
Your family Molitor