Travel Blog - Team Member on Tour in Germany: Lüneburg Heath
Let me introduce myself briefly. I am Inga, a Senior member of the team at Enviroblog.net (https://www.enviroblog.net/contributors), born in Germany and living in Australia for 35 years. Travelling to Europe is therefore on my agenda when possible. I recently returned from a trip to Germany with travel stories to tell. In this blog I will take you to the beautiful Lüneburg Heath (Lüneburger Heide).
This large area consists of heath, geest and woodland in the northeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It forms part of the hinterland for the cities of Hamburg, Hanover and Bremen and is named after the town of Lüneburg. Most of the area is a nature reserve. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lüneburg_Heath)
The heath begins south of Hamburg and extends to Gifhorn in eastern Lower Saxony. With its extensive forest, meadow and heath areas, it is a popular holiday destination and an important habitat for many animals and plants.
The landscape is attractive not only when the heather blossoms in late summer. Numerous cycling and hiking trails can be used all year round. In addition, the region offers picturesque villages, attractive cities such as Lüneburg and Celle as well as leisure and animal parks.
My visit took place in April with the benefit that not many visitors use the place at that time of the year when the heath is not in flower. But in my opinion this place is beautiful all year round. Rugged up with hat, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket I much enjoyed the bicycle tour with family on one of the many marked trails. Including the ride from nearby Schneverdingen, where I stayed and back, we managed 60 kilometres that day. The open meadows, endless views and the surprising lake landscape in the heath was worth every moment.
And…not to forget the cosy and inviting cafes and restaurants that offer delicious cakes and food. In my case I enjoyed a potato-veggie bake, which was excellent.
So now back to the heath, is the area archetypal for Northern Germany?
No, natural heath landscapes are rare in Central Europe. They are more common for example in Scotland or Scandinavia further north. The Lüneburg Heath is one of the areas created by humans.
In fact, the North German plain would be covered by forests. But people who have been farming and raising livestock in this region since the Bronze Age left open areas and light forests behind. This created space for heather (a purple-flowered Eurasian heath that grows abundantly on moorland and heathland. Many ornamental varieties have been developed), a natural form of vegetation that prefers nutrient-poor locations.
Many rare animals, plants and rare bird species like the woodlark, whinchat, stonechat, red-backed shrike, great grey shrike, nightjar and black grouse inhabit the area . On the paths, small tiger beetles move around or sand lizards bask in the sun. The diversity of the landscape also explains the occurrence of a large number of rare plant species, such as the bog asphodel, marsh gentian, maiden pink, or cross-leaved heath.
A big part in maintaining the heath landscape is a special type of sheep called the “Heidschnucke” (German Moorland Sheep). The well-known Heidschnucken sheep are used for heathland management.
The grazing is probably the best-known method of heathland management. The Heidschnucken bite young trees and thus prevent birch and pine from spreading across the heathland. A total of ten herds wander around Lüneburg Heath Nature Park for 365 days a year. In addition, the heather must also be maintained mechanically or by controlled burning. All this serves to preserve this unique landscape and always takes place in winter. Heidschnucken meat is a regional delicacy and can be tasted in almost all Lüneburg Heath restaurants.
My trip to the Lüneburg Heath was not only enjoyable and relaxing but also educational. A good example of how areas such as this unique landscape can be preserved for the benefit of current and future generations.
I hope you enjoyed reliving my time spent in the Lüneburg Heath with me.
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Lueneburger Heide © 2022 Lüneburger Heide GmbH (viewed 21.07.2022)
Wikipedia (viewed 21.07.2022)