In love with “The North”.
“Are you still?”, a friend of mine asks me on Facebook, teasing me about my recent emotions from travelling to the North Sea as well as Lüneburg Heath. “Yes”, I answer with a sigh, happily boarding the so-called “Heidesprinter erixx” train in a town called Buchholz. That’s way out in the countryside, located right in the middle of the city triangle Hamburg, Hannover and Bremen. I love train travelling. It is nice, easy, smooth, sustainable, and fits the ethos of my trip #EnjoyGermanNature.
Moreover, my local host Christian Glet happily lends his pretty bike, a bike which has no gears in this almost completely flat landscape of Northern Germany.
Well, it is what it is, I am left thinking, breaking into a slight sweat by making my way “uphill” (a little hill, but still). But it all compensates stopping here, because look what I found !!
“Did you know that the nature park Lüneburg Heath is the first, state-owned nature protection area of Germany and that the ‘local association for the protection of nature’ here has been founded at the same time as the Hohe Tauern national park in Austria? It all happened back in 1910, when some wealthy people thought, we must protect this exceptional landscape. At the same time, the national park movement had started in the US and people thought, if the Americans can do it, we can do it just as well here in Germany!” Always interesting, learning more about the course of history up until today, plus the connection to my own home country Austria, of course. Listening in on the explanations provided by my heath experts Jan Brockmann as well as local nature guide Jutta, I learn a lot about the context of this fascinating heath.
The same passion runs through the Schäferhof hotel, right at the edge of the Pietzmoor heath. It all comes together here: Rest, peace, nature, great food & hospitality.
I still remember Christian Glet and his warm-hearted laughter. “Hallo Frau Paschinger ..”, he keeps addressing me in his cheerful voice every time our paths cross at his Schäferhof nature hotel, asking me what else he might be able to do for me. And yes, that’s partly how he ended up lending me his bike in order to go and see the famous “Heidschnucken“, a local type of sheep breed that loves eating the grass and bushes around the rather poor soils of the heath. Lovely. Let me show you where all the magic takes place …
… right here within the “natural triangle” between Bremen, Hamburg & Hannover, the beautiful nature reserve Lüneburg Heath.
Next time you visit, don’t miss a nature tour with heath ranger Jan Brockmann, who seems to know his heath park inside out.
“After thorough examination, we confirm that Elena has approved mastering “Schnucken” sheep, blackcocks and “Heidjern”! Signed: Jan Brockmann. Heath Ranger (c).”
Beaming with delight, and some pride, I am taking my heath diploma, certifying my new knowledge after touring with Jan the heath park ranger. Very nice. I now know, for instance, to distinguish one flower heath from another, know the particularities of the local sheep breed called “Heidschnucken” (and where the funny name comes from, in German), why the local honey is so good and tasty, and how its historic roots came about. Off we go exploring Niederhaverbeck …
Check out my travel video to the North Sea as well as Lüneburg Heath Nature Park, whisking you away and right into the beautiful natural landscapes of Germany:
Disclaimer: I have been invited by the German National Tourist Board to ” #EnjoyGermanNature ” on this nature trip to Lower Saxony. All opinions are my own.