Saturday, 24 September 2016

Hansaweg and Heidschnuckenwg

After another short bit on the E1 I got onto the little known Hansaweg in the lovely town of Hameln that every German knows from the tale of the Pied Piper. The landscape now becomes flatter and flatter and soon I reached and crossed the Mittellandkanal on the E1 again. Unfortunately, the trail is now routed more and more on asphalt, mainly on bike trails. I did more and more km every day but at night me feet were hurting again from pounding asphalt. Still, there were some nice suprises along the trail like this gem of a romanic church in Idensen.

Sigwardskirche in Idensen
The E1 coincides here with a pilgrimage trail, the Sigwardsweg. I had never heard of this 170 km long trail but it had all the amenities of a pilgrimage trail. The church was looked but you could retrieve the key from a box nearby. And I enjoyed sitting in the cool church  (and recharging my phone meanwhile) a lot. But there was more: notes invited the pilgrims to use the rest rooms in a nearby kindergarten which gave me the chance to clean up again. And there was even a little has containing a free library and book exchange nearby - including a sofa for reading! No wonder it took me almost two hours to get out of little Idensen again....

Leslie in the Hotel Atlantik
In 30 degree heat I dragged myself on the my next rest day in Celle which is also the start of the Heidschnuckenweg. I had booked myself a room in the Hotel Atlantik which is a normal rather worn hotel but has a great and eccentric owner. Leslie served for more than 20 years in the British army and was mostly stationed here in Celle. After ending his military career he returned to Britain but decided that he could not live there any more because he had fallen in love with Germany and Celle. So when the opportunity arose he bought the Hotel Atlantic which now shows his other passion: Leslie is an Elvis impersonator and therefore the hotel breakfast room looks like an Elvis museum. Leslie has even been made MBE (Member of the British Empire) by Queen Elisabeth for his Elvis charity shows.

After some sightseeing in Celle i continued on the Heidschnuckenweg, another very popular German long distance trail. Near Celle you skirt a huge military training area. It is not very often that you find "No tanks"-signs on hiking trails.... The Heidschnuckenweg is very sandy and I regretted not having brought gaiters. My shoes were full of sand all the time and my hiking socks were suffering. Still, the Heidschnuckenweg was the last "natural" highlight on this trip.

 The "Heide" was in full bloom now end of August and I even saw several of the "Heidschnucken", the sheep that have given the trail its name. I was making very fast progress now, so when I had reached Hamburg I decided it was time for a longer break. With Hamburg being so close the Berlin I just hopped on a train and spent two rest days at my own place in Berlin before I set off again to continue hiking north.