This year’s holiday was actually a compromise. But a fantastic one. After we had planned several other holiday destinations almost completely, our plans were crossed every time. And when my car was stolen and used for a burglary just before the holiday, the motto for this year was: cheap holiday in Germany – hiking and camping.
The Heidschnuckenweg was voted the most beautiful hiking trail in Germany in 2014 and it is intended to be hiked in two weeks. We had three weeks time. So after some planning around we decided to hike from Celle to the outskirts of Hamburg, spend a few days with friends there, drive out of Hamburg and hike the last days to Lübeck. We are not necessarily hiking pros or insanely athletic, but the adventure was still exciting.
Now we still needed the appropriate equipment. We already had most of it, but we got some in the local Globetrotter, that we visited more than once. One week before the trip, when we had everything together (at least that’s what we thought), we wanted to do a test packing day and also a walk with the luggage to test if everything fits and if we might need something else. Eventually the test packing lasted from 12 noon to 12 o’clock at night. During the first packing attempt both backpacks were clearly overloaded with about 25 kg. That of course meant that we had to leave even more at home than we had anticipated.
The hours went by and our bagpacks were repacked and stuff was sorted out again and again. In the end we put every single piece on the kitchen scale to identify the cause of the weight. As a result, the following week we went back to the Globetrotter to get extra-light containers and refill anything that was too big or in a container that was too heavy. This way we could save some hundred grams. Everywhere we saved weight and only took the most necessary things with us. This went so far that I soldered a cable short, because I could save another 50 grams. In the end my backpack weighed 18 kg and Maraike’s weighed 16 kg. But without the 3 liters of water in our water bladders…
In advance we planned the whole route with Google MyMaps, where we uploaded the hiking routes and could see how we have to tackle the individual sections logistically. That is: Accommodation (campground or hotel), food (for some sections we had to buy food for three days before, because there was simply nothing on the route), length of the daily route, etc. With all this preparation and a lot of enthusiasm we set out for an experience we hadn’t had yet in this form.
In the following now a loose arrangement of stories about what happened to us during the days of the hike.
Day 1 – From Cologne to Celle
Hiked Km: not logged
Insight of the day: Well, that will be interesting with the heavy luggage
The train is full, including a lot of gamers returning from Gamescom. After a short while I hear Gameboy-gambling, which accompanies us half the train ride. These sounds could be quickly assigned to the group of four gamers sitting diagonally in front of us. But eventually I see through the two seats in front of us and realize that the older lady in front of us is eagerly playing Zelda on her Gameboy and the sounds come from her device. Who can still argue that gaming is not for the elderly!
Once we arrive in Celle, there is still a short walk from the train station to the hotel in front of us. We manage this without any problems, but we soon notice that the next day, with 21 km planned, would be much more exhausting than we expected. The first pressure points can be felt and shoulders and hips thank us for every moment when we don’t carry our backpacks. Arriving at the hotel we throw off all unnecessary weight and walk through the beautiful old town. For dinner we have a very delicious meal in a bohemian restaurant called “Zum Schwejk“.
Day 2 – From Celle to Dehningshof
Hiked Km: 21,5 Km
Insight of the day: Enduring pain through constant pain relocation
We walk the Heidschnuckenweg in the opposite direction. So today’s stage is actually the finish. Maybe that is why it’s the longest section of the whole hiking tour. We knew that 27 km are simply not achievable for us with the luggage, certainly not on the first day. Moreover, we have already walked the beginning of the way the day before. Therefore, we order a taxi and get a ride to the border of the city. As we talked to the taxi driver, he turns out to be from North-Rhine Westphalia, too. And grew up in the same area as Maraike. And went to school where her father taught. And had him as a teacher. It’s a small world. Even before we have made the first step, there is the first awesome encounter. This is how it can continue. Full of anticipation we start walking.
Already after a few kilometers we are hurting a lot. The feet and hips hurt especially. We march past a shooting range and numerous signs indicating the military security area. We have our first real rest not until about 12 km beside the path. There hasn’t been a bench for kilometres and there is none in sight. So we make ourselves comfortable between the trees, take off our shoes and eat our lunch: Canned fish, nuts and dried fruit.
The next kilometres are getting more and more exhausting and the distances between the breaks are getting shorter and shorter. In the end, it is pure endurance of pain, which becomes a bit easier if you concentrate on the parts of the body that don’t hurt so much and you adjust your backpack so that it puts a slightly different strain on the body. In between we rest on a bench with a table, where we also meet two women hiking with a dog, who also walk the Heidschnuckenweg in the same direction. But they were somehow strange. It should not be the last time that we meet these three.
In the afternoon we arrive at the hotel completely exhausted, where we struggle to climb up the stairs with difficulties to throw our backpacks from our backs. But before we can really rest, we have to wash the clothes we are wearing, which we do during the shower. After that we just fall into bed and sleep until the evening. In the restaurant we eat a Heidschnucken roast and afterwards we return to our room. We are too exhausted to stay up for much longer.roast
Day 3 – From Dehningshof to Hermannsburg
Hiked Km: 9,9 Km
Insight of the day: Hiking benches are so high to completely take the strain off your feet (which is incredibly good)
Do we really have to walk past this pond? No! Is there anything to see on this loop? Never mind! Everything hurts, and we’ll cut it short. The shortcuts lead through some interesting parts of the track. These are shown in Google Maps, but of course the condition is not visible there. So it happens that we literally stomp through the bushes every now and then. The second half of the tour leads through a big and long extended piece of heath, where we of course meet many hikers and walkers. Once we arrive at our destination in the hotel we admire the 80ies furnishing and do it like the day before: showering, washing clothes. But we don’t sleep, because we still want to go shopping in the nearby village. We learn that although the buses come very unregular and rare, they go almost everywhere.
Day 4 – From Hermannsburg to Oberohe
Hiked Km: 17,4 Km
Insight of the day: Shortcuts make sense
We’ve had almost no reception anywhere since we left Celle. Which is quite pleasant, since we can relax our minds even more this way. What is less pleasant is that shortly after we start walking, there is the first drizzle, which gets more and less intense. Several times we take out our hiking umbrellas. We prefer to walk with the umbrella than with the rain jacket, because it is still very warm and we don’t have to sweat even more. On the way we notice paw prints of a dog. Those were definitely these two strange female hikers with their dog. Towards the afternoon the weather gets better. Fortunately, because today is our first night in our tent. In the evening we have typical snack food. It’s not necessarily tasty, but our stomachs have been filled.
Day 5 – From Oberohe to Müden (Örtze)
Hiked Km: 17,3 Km
Insight of the day: Our tent is great
Our tent is really fantastic. Quick to set up and take down, very light and many useful features. After a rich breakfast with buns from the campsite and Nutella and honey from the hotel the day before, we set off, accompanied by the noises of the nearby military training area. Towards noon the maximum temperature of the day of 30°C is reached, which is obviously not only a challenge for us, but also for hikers coming towards us. On the way we always meet nice people who like to talk to us for a bit. For example an elderly couple who recommend a bakery and a café that we had on our route anyway. Shortly afterwards we meet a hiking group of the brand ” Men 65+”. The robust gentlemen, who walk the Heidschnuckenweg in the other direction, are tired but in good spirits for the rest of the route. I have quite a bit of respect for this, considering the heat and the fact that some parts of the trail are not easy to walk.
Arrived in Müden we accidentally pass the bakery that was recommended to us before, where we buy the buns for the next day. Then, the Ole Müller Schün, a restaurant with gigantic pieces of cake, appears. We eat dinner and have another piece of cake afterwards. But we don’t manage to eat all of it, because the dinner was already plentiful and the cake was just too big.
Camping Sonnenberg is firmly in Dutch hands. At the end it should be the camping site where we feel the most comfortable because of the friendly owners and the other occupants. We would have loved to spend more time with them, but we still haven’t had a real rest and are just worn out and tired.
Day 6 – From Müden (Örtze) to Wietzendorf
Hiked Km: 17,3 Km
Insight of the day: 3l of water per person were almost too little for today’s route
We started very early in order to cover a lot of distance before the predicted heat, which we managed very well. Slowly we get into a kind of hiking routine and find our pace. After about every quarter of the daily distance we take a longer break and take off our shoes. Even if we don’t have a bench or a tree trunk where we can sit down, we have our “wonder bag”. This is just a big blue garbage bag that I cut open and which we use as an ultra-light underlay. During a break, I just got back from taking a leak and stumbled out of the woods, I see Maraike doing dance moves like I have never seen her do before. It looks like a mixture of break dance and karate. Turns out she’s being chased by a huge horsefly. These are the little stories that always provide amusement on the hike.
It is incredibly hot and the sweat just runs down over us. Nevertheless, we get through today very well and arrive early in Wietzendorf, where we treat ourselves to a refreshment in an ice cream parlor. Meanwhile the thermometer rises to 35°C and we still have two km to go to the campground. And from the reception it is another km to our campsite. To say that the Südseecamp is huge is an understatement and we have neither strength nor muse to use all the possibilities here, even though there is everything here like on a cruise ship, like countless different theme areas and restaurants. In one of the restaurants, the boathouse in the Swedish part of the camp, we have dinner. Very tasty and very well arranged.
Day 7 – From Wietzendorf to Wolterdingen
Hiked Km: 10 Km
Insight of the day: Cheating is OK
With predicted 36°C for a distance of over 20 km it would be unreasonable to do this ordeal to us. After all this is our vacation. So we cheat and take the bus to Soltau. We take our time, but arrive too early at the camping site. Therefore we can now wait in the open area of the restaurant next to a power outlet where we charge our cell phones and the battery, which is already thirsty for a charge. After putting up the tent we go swimming in the 20°C cold water – as required with a bathing cap. In the evening we enjoy grilled food and live music in the restaurant.
Day 8 – From Wolterdingen to Behringen
Hiked Km: 4,4 Km
Insight of the day: The Heideshuttle is great
Today again we decide to shorten the route with the help of public transport. Keyword: vacation. We go by train to Schneverdingen, from there we take the bus and walk the rest. While waiting at the bus stop in Schneverdingen the Heideshuttle stops at the bus stop next to us. The bus driver gets off and asks where we want to go. When we tell him that we want to go to Bispingen, he says that we can get on and get a free ride. It turns out that the Heideshuttle is a free service during the season, which runs on four different routes in the Heide area. We inform ourselves a bit more with our cell phone and see that two stops behind Bispingen is the crazy house. We decide to go there and visit the house, which was turned upside down and where you can take funny pictures.
Afterwards we walk around the lake to the campsite, because we feel the urge to walk a little more before we arrive at the campsite. After we have built up our tent, we notice a person in the dishwashing area who washes her Thermomix. Some of them just can’t let go. Finally I thought it was quite intriguing what we got for dinner. There was a typical snack kitchen with frozen food. But it was really nicely arranged and enhanced, so you could say that it tasted good.
The second part continues here.