When asked to depict my favourite place on earth, I am fortunate enough to immediately think of where I grew up, Luxembourg. Now that I have been studying in the city of Glasgow for five years, I treasure the visits to my family home in Consdorf, a rural village situated close to the German border.
When people think of our small country, they usually imagine a thriving financial sector riddled with questionable tax laws, but what truly makes Luxembourg special is its largely untouched and diverse natural environment. The specific region I am referring to is known as the Mullerthal. Alternatively called the Petite Swisse (or Little Switzerland) of Luxembourg due to its resemblance to Switzerland’s hilly regions, the Mullerthal boasts vast forests marked by everchanging sandstone rock formations, deep valleys, lush shrubbery and glistening rivers that culminate in cool azure pools throughout the area.
A 112 km subtle but accommodating path, known as the Mullerthal trail, invites the willing traveller to experience the magnificence of this region, taking them through small towns, fields and dense woodland. Naturally, the geological diversity is matched by the biological, with an array of wildlife, such as wild boars and badgers, living in close proximity to the trail; not afraid to show off their beautiful home.
I was raised across from one of the many paths that act as entrances into the woodland heart of the Mullerthal trail and, as you might expect, I spent much of my time exploring its seemingly infinite and mysterious depths. The dense vegetation dominated by ferns was, and is, to me a place of wonder and discovery.
Reminiscent of the Jurassic era, the Mullerthal’s flora and geological landscape never fails to awaken my boyish curiosity and love for an ancient past and environmental secrets. Whilst I have never encountered dinosaurs on one of my many expeditions in the area, I have uncovered natural sites the marvel of which could shock you as much as stumbling across a Velociraptor. Hidden caves with gigantic stalactites draping from their innards and inhabited by bats, cliff faces with hanging moss filtering water into freshwater ponds occupied by tadpoles, and tall honeycomb-like cliffs perforated by changing weather conditions are only a few of the natural wonders that the Mullerthal region offers to the observant environmentalist.
And it does not end there. The core reason that the Mullerthal is my favourite place on earth is that it changes constantly, not due to human beings, but by itself as a natural entity. Heavy rains and winds might knock over trees, turn a footpath into a river, shape entire rock formations, and it only serves to make the region more fascinating and wonderous.
Whilst local communities might step in to clear the main Mullerthal trail should it become obstructed, the trail’s many smaller paths are left to the whim of the environment. My most frequented path was recently inundated by prolonged rainfall and is now a magical stream flowing freely where human beings used to make their way through the deep forest. This transformation is not something to be fought but embraced.
The Mullerthal region is treated as the natural jewel that it is, and it is locally understood that its unobstructed environmental evolution is at the heart of preservation and conservation. This attitude is mirrored in the various ecotours that the local environmental bodies offer visitors.
Every time I return home, I am gifted with a new perspective on a natural environment that exists independent of human beings. The anthropogenic impact is truly minimal. When you explore the Mullerthal, there is a real sense that you are a guest in a timeless and powerful natural abode.
Nonetheless, treated fairly and with respect, the incredible host that is nature welcomes you with open arms. The Mullerthal is a hiker’s paradise, but its trails are also a hotbed for mountain bikers and its geological makeup is ideal for climbers seeking the thrill of scaling its many uniquely shaped rockfaces. Adventure is not in short supply.
Furthermore, due to Luxembourg’s small size and well-developed public transport system, the Mullerthal region is easily accessible by bus from a variety of locations. Tourists can pick and choose their entry point and the distance of the Mullerthal trail they would like to cover, and need not worry about finding sustainable transport from one place to the next.
This opens up the possibility of uncovering different facets of the region’s diversity all in one day. The Mullerthal is an endless sea of natural opportunity that never ceases to amaze, and I have no doubt that I am not the only one who considers it their favourite place on earth.
- Jaz Henry
- : I am a keen conservationist who has worked on various projects, such as the Namibian Dolphin Project and Desert Elephant Project. I am a contributor for the marine biology organisation Odyssea, with my main aim being to make scientific research more accessible to people without a scientific background. I work for the Scottish Wildlife Trust in Scotland alongside my university studies at the University of Glasgow. I hope to pursue a career in conservation following my graduation in 2020.
- : https://thecluelessconservationist.com/
- : adult_(19_and_over_as_of_31st_december_2019)
- : This is the first time this story has been published.