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The moor that unites a community

The moor that unites a community

The moor that unites a community

The Oberköhler moor in Sulzberg is an idyllic, natural moor pond not far from the centre of the village. For generations, it has connected locals of all ages. Newly renovated, it’s an attractive alternative to outdoor pools.

Myths and legends of magic waters have been told throughout the ages, from the Greeks to the fountain of youth. For the people of Sulzberg, the black waters of their local moor have their own special magic: For it is here that local children learned to swim and generations of local teenagers spent their summers, many experiencing their first kiss under the bright starry sky. For decades, the Oberköhler moor has been a place of retreat for those who are too old for the playground and yet too young for the pub. Unlike other natural moor baths, there were never any big plans in Sulzberg to further develop the natural pond, whose water is fed by an upland moor, either for tourism or perhaps a private hotel complex.

Instead, memories of carefree afternoons at the water’s edge and dreamy summer nights connect generations of children, parents and grandparents. For example, Karin Dorner and her son David: “Of course I learned to swim at the Oberköhler moor. At that time there was no easily accessible outdoor pool. As kids, the Weissach river in the valley was way too far away,” recalls Karin, who was born in 1951. Her son David, born in 1976, adds: “In my youth, all the boys met up at the moor in the evening. Summers were spent around the campfire and we even partied here after graduation. Here at the lake, we were never far from home and yet we had space to ourselves.” The small lake is also a meeting place for Sulzberg’s three local clans: those from south Sulzberg, those from north Sulzberg and the “townies.” Yes, such small regional distinctions between those that live in the sunnier and shadier parts of town do indeed exist, as both Karin and David can attest.

Their farm, in operation for generations, is located on the shadier side of town. Here, where both Karin and David grew up, the view to the north extends over the gentle hilly landscape of the Allgäu as opposed to the Bregenzerwald.  “As a teen, the Oberköhler moor was a place to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t have had much to do with. This is still true today and contributes positively to village life in general,” says David. “Entry was always free. There were never strict rules about what you could and couldn’t do,” he remembers with a grin. “We always behaved ourselves, of course.” The area around the small moor lake was first renovated at the end of the 1960s. At that time, part of the watercourse was enclosed by a concrete wall, and a wooden hut served as both changing room and toilet. In the 1990s, the popularity of the pond declined somewhat, says Karin Dorner: New outdoor pools in the surrounding area proved to be stiff competition. In 2016, the municipality decided to renovate the Oberköhler moor according to plans submitted by the Edgar Höscheler and the “Landrise” architectural firm. The Sulzberg youth council naturally involved. David Dorner, as a local expert on the moor and member of the Oberköhler working group, was also involved in the renovations, which were carried out in 2018/19 by numerous local companies.

Everything was ready just in time for the start of the summer 2019 bathing season. Equipped with a new, natural shore area, a deep-water swimming zone and a shallow children’s zone in addition to changing rooms and a new barbecue area, the Oberköhler moor is now experiencing a renaissance.  According to David, the next generation of Sulzberg children is already taking over: “My two daughters, thirteen-year-old Ida and ten-year-old Lea, love to visit the moor in summer!“

Author: Babette Karner
Issue: Bregenzerwald Travel Magazine – Summer 2020