De Rünenberger Giessen, Stierengraben. Foto: TES

The Tafeljura, Chrindeltal, Stierengraben and Gelterkinden

The Tafeljura Plateau

The climate and nature have permanently changed since the beginning of planet Earth more than four billion years ago. From a geological point of view, the Jura and the Alps are relatively recent witnesses. The Gletsjergarten in Lucerne offers an impressive picture of these processes.

Nature, too, is constantly adapting to climatic conditions; this applies to flora and fauna, humans, viruses, fungi and bacteria.


Humans, however, occupy a unique position in this process. Humans can influence and sometimes even radically change nature and the climate at short notice. 

The explosive increase in the number of people, the paving of the earth with cities, concrete, cement, iron, and stone, the conversion of rivers into canals, the diversion of streams, the construction of reservoirs in valleys or the clearing of forest areas for agriculture and cattle breeding have a profound influence.

The Tafeljura Plateau

The Tafeljura Plateau is located east and southeast of Basel in the canton of Basel-Landschaft. A 58-hectare nature reserve stretches across Eselfluhholde, Chrindel, Stolten and Stierengraben.

The word plateau says nothing about the relief of the area. This region is a cross-section of the Jura mountains. Forests, meadows, gorges, rocks, streams and other water sources, ruins and castles and villages define the picture.

For centuries, this area was used as farmland and for cattle breeding. One of the human interventions was diverting streams and constructing dams in this wetland, a floodplain landscape, an Auenlandschaft.

The Chöpfliweg in the Chrindeltal led through this partially drained landscape and was intended for (cattle) transport. The St. George spring (the Jörkerbrunn) was even used to supply drinking water to nearby Sissach via a 5.3-kilometre-long pipeline, thus depriving nature of water.

The Chöpfliweg

The name Stierengraben also dates back to this time. In the mild seasons, the bulls (Stieren) pulled the plough and the wagons, and out of gratitude, they stayed outside from autumn to spring in this humid environment. At the end of the Stierengraben, the “Rünenberger Giessen” plunges into the Jura rocks from a height of 18 metres. It gives an impression of the bulls’ winter habitat.

The renovated stable for cattle

and its equipment today 

The drinking trough for cattle


Since 2011, however, the water landscape has regained its ‘freedom’, without human intervention. Human interventions can still be seen in several places, such as the centuries-old and renovated cattle shed, the cattle watering trough or the centuries-old Chöpfliweg.

Human intervention can still be seen in several places, such as the centuries-old and renovated cattle shed, the cattle watering trough or the centuries-old Chöpfli path. But nature also takes its course, including a fungus deadly to ash trees, the Eschenwelke. Within a short time, however, the vacated space is taken over by various plants shrubs and germinating trees. Evolution in a nutshell.


The city of Basel had acquired the rights to the village of Gelterkinden from the lords of Thierstein-Farnsburg in 1461. Gelterkinden, derived from the Alemannic Gelterkingen, sided with the city of Basel in the uprising of the Basel region (Baselbiet) in 1831-1833. 

The village even asked the city for military support against the Baselbieter insurgents. The troops of Basel-Landschaft then stormed and looted the town. Since then, the village has been part of the canton of Basel-Landschaft.


However, the desire for (re)unification with the canton of Basel-Stadt was still present. It manifested itself, among other things, in the unsuccessful uprising against the cantonal government in Liestal in 1840 (Gemeindejoggeliputsch). There are still initiatives and even (rejected) referendums for a union of the two cantons.

Liestal, Museum. BL. 1913, poster with a call for reunification

Referendum 1936, poster against reunification. Archiv Basel-Stadt

Archiv Basel-Stadt

The natural landscape

The hiker encounters this diverse natural landscape and history on the part of the Chirsiweg from Sommerau to Gelterkinden. Cherry trees have blossomed in the Upper Basel region in spring for centuries and are still an important economic sector.

However, this region has more to offer than cherry cultivation and, above all, shows the versatility of the Jura.

The village of Rünenberg