During August in the year 1997 I once had a "free" Saturday which means to stay at home alone, cut the grass or use the garden shredder. On my way to work I think it over, what else I could do on such a day. And suddenly there is the flash: The circuit tour around the Harz. (The Harz is the highest mountain of northern Germany, the highest hill the Brocken 1142 m, distance: 45 car-minutes from my home). Some time later I have bought the guide "Harzrundweg, BVA". The trail is 400 km long - some work to do for several tour days. The railway connections in those regions are good, so it usually will be possible to go back to the start point by train.
And the very first start point shall be the bench near the town Seesen, where Heidi and I rested last year cycling the R1 (R1 is the European Bike-Path which once will lead from Calais to Petersburg). We had been on our tour to Pyritz/Poland and had realized, that this path is not suited for long distance rides with baggage and moreover not for cyclists who do not like hills.
Hahausen (Seesen) - Appenrode (Ellrich), 9.8., 100 km
Now the situation has changed, when I go out alone I like hills. And for one day rides no luggage is necessary. So I am extremely motivated and awake at 3 am in the middle of the night. I cannot fall asleep again, so I decide to start and around 5 am I leave my car at Neuekrug near Seesen. It is rather dark yet and I start with a buzzling dynamo. Soundless a large bird slides along, may be it is an owl, as it shoud be at this time. I ride along in a dark forest, and as I reach a meadow it is possible to have a look at the map. And of course I am completely wrong and soon would reach my start point again.
So I must go back some distance and then find the sidepath which really easily can be overseen. The sign of the path is a cycling witch with a broom. I miss this sign once again, may be I am not completely awake yet. So I find myself in the village Bornhausen but can go back on a traffic free road due to a construction site. Unvoluntarily I have performed the first circle around a former brown coal surface mining. Near some fishponds I find my witch again, the morning haze is very dense here. Then there is the underpass of the B248 and we have to climb up a slope to the outer roads of Seesen. Down again and it is hard to keep the 30 km/h as the traffic signs instruct.
Along a creek named Schildau on the road to Lauthental. It is remarkable that in the last year they have found two bears on this road. No one could tell where they had come from and so they ended in a zoo. Then I find the way up to the forest again. When the uphill ends I have the "Encounter of the Third Kind". I must tell another weird story before. During the last years there have happened some murders at the southern part of the Harz. The victims were wanderers or walkers. The last occurrence was near the cave Himmelreichhöhle at Walkenried where a visitor of the cave was shot at the parking place. The murderer must be a madman who only looks for an occasional victim. I did not tell anything about that matter at home.
And now I see a curious person ahead. We have 6.30 am and before sunrise yet. I get goose bumps. Mechanically I increase the speed. If I would go back now, I would loose my face. May be it is a mushroom seeker or forest worker. But nothing of it, it is a vagabond with big beard and some plastic bags around him. As I come near he waves with his wrist to ask the time. "Half past six" I shout and rush along. "And where to go to ...?" I do not understand, shrug and shoot off. As I am out of sight and range of a gun I calm down and withdraw my goose bumps. Some time later two other persons come along. But these are really mushroomers and I say "Good Morning".
Then I run down to the end of the forest and over a wooden footbridge and a meadow reach the village Münchehof - in the sunshine now. Then there is a small road signed to be in a bad state. This is true and may be the cause why it is part of the Harz-cycle-path. Moreover one has to take care of the numerous edible snails (Weinbergschnecke) which have their trail here too (I once put three or so of those snails in my garden, meanwhile I had to put back to the fields more than a hundred of them). At the village Gittelde we hit on the church. And I loose the witch sign once again, find my way to a spot, which is recognizable on the map and finally find the witch. We cross the river Söse, up above Osterode there is the Söse-Talsperre, a dam.
Meanwhile the sun gets warm, there is no wind and shade in the fields. So to be seen at the wind mills around, which do not produce any electricity today. I myself produce some sweat up from the village Förste to a ridge where once was the Celtic Pippinsburg at this strategically important place. The remains are some walls only. Now a long downhill follows to Ührde within a scenic landscape. A last hill and then we reach Schwiegershausen along a creek which comes from anywhere and ends at nowhere. This is caused by the fact that we have reached the famous Gypsum Karst Area of Beierstein and Hainholz. Many years ago we had our first and best cave explorations at this site. The names of the caves sound like music: Jettenhöhle, Klinkerbrunnen, Marthahöhle, Polenloch...
Now I consume a cheese sandwich vis a vis of the Beierstein. The Karst community has had a struggle over years to preserve this area from the gypsum industry. Finally they had succeeded and the region has become a nature reservate. But another fellow did not respect the human laws and this was a thunderstorm some weeks ago. This has destroyed the Hainholz with its beautiful beech trees, special ferns and flowers in the spring. Now this all looks like garbage. (The future of this matter is a phenomenon: The Karst community could convince the official and local institutes not to change anything. This was the beginning of a natural revival and a djungle like state of the wood. When I was there some years later it was impossible to walk a single step into this wilderness.)
I take a photo and continue, cross the B243 and the railway. Here are destructions from the thunderstorm as well. Here they have tried to arrange things and pull the broken trunks out of the forest but there will be much work yet. I reach the town of Herzberg. Up above there is the famous half timbered castle. The pedestrian area however looks like everywhere, sterile shops like those of the Schlecker drugstores. It is better to go around the Juessee, the greatest water filled Karst sink of northern Germany. The water lilies cover the surface. And there is a bath which is still closed. I realize that we have 10 am yet though I was on the tour for 5 hours already.
From Herzberg to Lauterberg we have to use the road. At Scharzfeld beneath the Steinkirche they have destroyed parts of the landscape as they built the four lane Autobahn on the southern slope with cliffs and the typical sparse karst vegetation. So this section of the Harz trail past the town of Lauterberg is no jewel. We now approach the Wiesenbeker Teich, a picturesque pond or little lake in the woods. I overtake some mountainbikers who have difficulties to switch to one of their numorous gears. Now I must climb like Pantani with the hot breath of the bikers in my neck. I succeed and reach the hotel at the top of the dam alone. Up above the pond there is a camping area, of course this is a fine location for the people but a pity for the landscape. The wheels of the travel trailers are demounted, the sites are surrounded by fences and have front gardens.
I continue to zigzag uphill until we reach a signed boulder at the summit. This is the Weser-Elbe-Waterdivide. So when I run down now I may reach the Elbe - but this is far away. I get to Steina along a cool and shaded valley with meadows. Steina is a nice village, you can see the Römersteine (some coral cliffs) nearby. I take a photo and then sweating master the hill to Bad Sachsa. We have noon now and the shops will close within minutes. So I am happy to buy a last 1.5 L bottle of lemonade. I go on to Walkenried and admire the ruins of the former monastery. In front of a fountain with a rotating replication of a gypsum crystal I consume a boiled egg and a sandwich. I must think about the rest of the day now. The wind gets somewhat stronger and I will have a tail wind on the way back. And because the weather is so fine I will not go back by train. And the total Kilometers will sum up to "the limit", this is the maximal distance I can master within a long day.
And because no one disagrees I decide to end for today at the natural monument Kelle. Between Walkenried and Ellrich I pass the crooked stripe of the former frontier to the DDR. At Ellrich they try to offer industrial sites. On the other hand our emergency contribution (Solidaritätszuschlag) was used for the local pavement. This looks sterile in contrary to some houses in decay which urgently must be restaurated. A stone-bordered creek runs along, this is the Zorge. Then I find a nice hike path again, traffic free and within a beautiful landscape. At the right there is a steep white cliff of gypsum. This is generated by a creek at the foot of the wall. This can dissolve the boulders and rocks that fall from the wall and so this will remain to be a vertical truncation. Those facts are to be read from the signs of the Karstwanderweg which is documented very thoroughly.
The last but one attraction of today is a real ford across a creek named Sülze. Some wet feet are a pleasure today. And now the last attraction, this is the ruin of a former huge cave named Kelle. I was here with a Karst excursion in the year 1990. Meanwhile they have installed stairs and fences to avoid that everyone tramples around. At a hot day like today it is impressive to climb down to the pool of the rest of the cave. The cool and heavy air is preserved down there and it feels like in a cellar. If you come up again it is like a sauna.
My speedometer now shows 110 km including all detours and lost sections. The way back will be 75 km. We have a good eastern wind, but so there is no cool breeze from ahead. I now use asphalt roads via Woffleben, Branderode to Neuhof. At 2 to 3 pm the heat gets more and more unbearable, but then near Bartolfelde and Barbis we have a sudden rain shower. So it is proved once again, that you ever should have some rain gear with you, even if the sun is shining. Behind Scharzfeld everything is dry again an the sky is clear.
At Gittelde I now pass the adit mouth of the Ernst-August-Stollen. This is 32 km long and shall be the longest adit of Europe. A cold breeze comes out of the mouth. What's the matter in winter times. Is there a warm breeze or will cold air go inside? So back on the bike I can argue about it. And I can tell another story: some years ago at a cold winter day we once have been at Braunlage and visited the Oderstollen. This is some 100 m long and ends blind. For security we had some candles with us. As we had entered the adit for a proper distance the candle ran out. And it was unpossible to light a match. "Up up and away" was the motto and we rushed back to the entrance mouth. At last in sight of the outer light the match was to be lighted again.
We argued about this experience and supposed, that the warm and light air is trapped in the slightly rising channel. And the oxygen is soon exhausted by some breathing persons. We could be happy that we came out alive. Meanwhile this adit is closed and no one is able to repeat such nonsense.
So meanwhile I stray around in the town of Osterode.
I am looking
for a road parallel to the B243. Eventually I reach Seesen and the last
kms to my car seem to be extremely long. I have spent 4 hours to return
and I am very satisfied about my power. On the other hand this was
cycling for a while.
Appenrode (Ilfeld) - Wippra, 16.8., 80 km
Just one week later there is a new occasion to continue the circuit tour around the Harz. This time I get up at 4.30 am. I had planned to start at Ellrich, but - may be still asleep - find myself at Ilfeld. May be the road from Rothesütte/Harz to Ellrich does not exist. The car is parked at Ilfeld and I argue how to start the tour. There would be a gap of 5 km between the former endpoint Appenrode and Ilfeld. For I do not want to neglect my reliability I decide to explore the road between Ilfeld and Appenrode and classify this as a morning-training-unit.
Everything is grey around, I pass a pond, then ride uphill through a forest and as the road gets steeper passing a flock of cattles which look stupid. At the entrance of Appenrode the road runs down again. So I better return to avoid the climb from the opposite. Now I fly along passing the flock of cattle again which now look appreciative. Then I have finished this intermezzo and start for the actual tour. First along a road, then on smaller paths to Neustadt. Up above there is the ruin of Burg Hohenstein but hard to be visited by bike. Neustadt is a touristic town in consequence of all the restaurants and hotels.
Thereafter along the border of a wood, along the Krebsbach and up some gravel hairpins. The trail may be somewhat adventurous with its potholes or puddles. Finally down again and at some dams and pools we reach the L27 again. But you are not invited to use this fine road for the next two kms. The biker is sent by the witch uphill and on a muddy path. Up there is the new settlement named Rödishain. Then down again to the L27, but do not use the tarmac road but the parallel dirty track instead (so says the witch). So I feel somewhat like a mortified flagellant now. But now we use the L27 to Rottleberode. They have built a brand new sport arena there with English turf, tartan courses and floodlight.
Behind the railway station we turn off towards Alter Stolberg, and this is a small mountain nearby. At one side there ar big quarries, the Knauf-Werke produce gypsum there. Soon we reach the main attraction of the region: the cave Heimkehle. We have been there 1990 as Christel and Reinhard V. had introduced impressively into these completely unknown worlds. At a signpost one can read about the origin of the cave: at the phreatic part of the gypsum formations the material is dissolved and transported away by the waters. The remaining cavities collapse and the new material is dissolved again and so on and so on. At its end the cave will reach the surface as we have seen at the Kelle the last time. The Heimkehle is one of the greatest Gypsum caves at all.
I cross the bridge of the Thyra and pass the Pulvermühle. This is or was a place of production of pyrotechnical products. Behind Uftrungen there is a nice unpaved and nearly traffic free road. Forests and meadows and a restplace so inviting that one really has to stop for a cheese sandwich. Behind Breitungen the next attraction is waiting and this is the Bauerngraben. On the right side there is a gypsum wall again and so it must nearby. I approach along the border of a wood, I can see some people and a dog ahead. This is a couple with the dog named Laica wearing a bell and a Red Cross waistcoat. I ask the people, where I can find the Bauerngaben. "You just stand in front of it" they say. And - really - there is a wide green sink behind some trees, no water but grass in it. "We will go down there, you can come with us" they say. I am delighted. We discuss some phenomenons of the gypsum Karst, I am not quite innocent about this theme.
They tell the following story that is said to be found in the archives. When the drain holes of the periodic lake collapse or are blocked, the waters from the creek in this sink rise several meters. Eventually the blocked drain will be dissolved again and the waters can pour off, and this can happen very rapidly. Once the lake existed over years and the locals hat started to breed carps. But one day everyone had to wipe his eyes: the waters have gone and the carps with it. Some months later the waters have come back from the mountain and the carps too. But those wer not eatable any longer.
I say thank you to the friendly couple and dog and go on towards Questenberg. On this section I reach the speed record: 55 km/h. So I fly along passing the nice half timbered church of Questenberg and the fork of the bike path. At the end of the village I recognize the error and go back, take a photo of the church and follow the cycling witch, which will make me sweat at the next section. We now are on the Karstwanderweg with its informative signposts. Here we find drains (Schwinden) of the Hasel- and Dinsterbach, some time later there is a formation (Aufschluss) of Kupferschiefer (copper schist). After Hainrode there are curious little hills grown with trees, these are former heaps of small pits and are called Pingen.
We pass Morungen with its castle. This seems to be built of red sandstone. And then I am soon at Wettelrode. There is the mining museum Röhrigschacht. In community with our witch we assemble at the parking site and have another sandwich. We have a view to the town of Sangerhausen, which is not only famous by its Rosarium but as well by the ugliest hill of the Harz. This is a big cone shaped heap of a former mine without any plants and to be seen from far away. At a signpost we can read some informations again. In the year 1854 the miners had dug an adit from Sangerhausen to drain the waters of the Röhrigschacht. But they hit a cave full of water. Months had to go until the waters had poured out and the cave was empty. So one can imagine where all the underground waters find their way.
On the ground aside there is an object formed of clay like a frustrum. At the bottom are some holes. I suppose, this is the reproduction of an ancient melting furnace and the holes are there to heat the fire by incoming air. May be I am wrong, today this object serves as a paper basket. From now on I must think about my way back again. It would be possible to return by train from Sangerhausen, but then the distance of today would be too short. We have eastern winds once again, so let's think about to cycle back. I continue along a high path with views to every direction. I reach Obersdorf and find the witch again - so I am right. The trail now leads to Wippra via two large slopes up to 400 m height around a hill named Hohe Äbtissin (High Abbess).
Eventually I suppose to know the path and soon I recognize: Alte Kohlenstrasse (Old Coalroad). We have been here years ago on the return from a tour along the river Wipper. At some places they have built huts and kilns of charburners and signposts again to illustrate the backgrounds of the charburners. Moreover in 1926 they have built a testpath paved by the wood of the beech tree. This is preserved in an astonishing good state.
At the highest point of 428 m we have to take care to hit the fork down to Wippra. The steep asphalt downhill suddenly ends with big potholes and gravel. Fortunately we can brake down from 50 km/h in time. Down in Wippra I decide to go back by bike, for there are some unknown roads in the eastern part of the Harz yet. While Wippra is located deep in the valley of the Wipper one must climb for a while until the Harzhochstrasse B242 is reached. At this point there once was a dispute between the clan of the Mansfelds and that of Anhalt about a castle, which should be built here. Due to this dispute this castle was never built and in consequence the place is called "The New Castle".
Along the Harzhochstrasse some car drivers think to be on a race course and this is not so nice for a cyclist. At Königerode I can leave this busy road. This smaller road has a brand new asphalt surface and leads uphill. Two mountainbikers come from above, whistling and cutting the curves. And a girl with inlineskates follows, how can she slow down? I come to Dankerode. I ask two children for the direction to Hayn. But they do not know, I should better go to the church where a wedding takes place and all locals would be there together. This is correct, the wedding couple will come out in a moment. The people have installed a clothesline with socks and stockings, chemises and panties etc. I try to ask someone for the route. And someone says "You must go through the Grund" and everyone nods and agrees. "And where is the Grund?" I must ask. "Up there and to the right". Unfortunately the wedding celebrations will continue without me.
The path is somewhat adventurous and I do hard to find the small bridge and traverse across the Wipper. Eventually I reach the plateau with the nice village Heyn. Thereafter I have planned a detour via the town Stolberg, which is awarded by the title "European Heritage". The next 6 km I fly down without pedalling and without braking. I come to hold in front of the townhall, the right place to consume the third of my cheese sandwiches. The townhall has several floors, but it is said, that there are no stairs inside. To get from one floor to another one has to use the outer stairs at the slope up to the castle. The main attraction of this town are the numorous well restaurated half timbered houses. A visit is always enjoyable.
Later in the village Buchholz I pass a big sinkhole. Another signpost with informations about the geological underground. A special company is assigned to renaturation activieties, and this Bureau is Ingenieurbüro R. Völker, Uftrungen. This is our special cave and carst expert responsible (with his wife Christel) for the excellent documentation of the Karstwanderweg, which we have met at some places.
Back at my car I have made 140 km in 11 hours. I think I have enough training now to start the bike tour along the Romantic Road next week.
Neue Krug - Thale, 100 km, 6.8.
Meanwhile we have returned from the Romantic Road and the Lake Constance and that report is written, designed and pictures included. But there are still some undevelopped pictures on the uncompleted film in the camera. So the solution to this dilemma is another section, the third one, of the Harz circuit.
The strategy will be to start like at the first time once again at Hahausen/Neue Krug and head east as far as possible. There is a train connection from the far east at Aschersleben to Goslar and this can be used to come back. This time I enter the bike at 7 am, very early again. Most of the section ahead is already known from our last year trip which ended in Poland. We had tried to cycle along the R1, identical with the Harz circuit at this region. It was very hard work with the loaden bikes and we soon gave it up. So I urgently want to know all about the real path now (There is a discussion about the Harz circuit, that this may be no real promotion for a family bike tour...).
After the first kilometers along the woods the path forks, and as the brochure tells, one branch is sporty and the other is more sporty. The easier route has four simple uphill arrows and four arrows for more serious ascents on the route to Goslar. The more strenuous track has 10 simple and 11 steep ascents. Sure, I choose the more sporty option, and this will be a circuit around the village Wolfshagen. My average speed is less than 10 km/h due to the uphills. Up above of Langelsheim there is a fine route on a former railway track. But the R1 cyclist is soon called to leave the asphalt and has to overcome two double arrows on the map. While I push up the path I see a romantic hayreck for the deer, covered with full green moss. Though it is rather dark yet I try a photo.
Soon I reach a light meadow with some trees and than have to ride down again to a parking site and a restaurant named Schäder Baude. There is a signed walk: Around the Shäder. And nearby you can find the Schäder Pavillon. Yes aou are right: Schäder is the name of the mountain above all. There is a nice outlook to the village Wolfshagen. Up and down again until we reach the tarmac path around the Granestausee (water resort). I know people who come on warm summer evenings from Braunschweig to this place to absolve some training rounds on their bikes. I enjoy this momentary plane road as well. The dam is crossed, the wind is rough but blows from behind.
We ride down to the town of Goslar and find ourselves near the famous Kaiserpfalz. There is a historical and picturesque old town, all together is awarded as Weltkulturerbe (World Heritage Site). If one has never been there he should have time for a visit. For my own I have to climb up to the Maltermeisterturm at 400m height beneath the Rammelsberg. The Rammelsberg ore mines have been more than 1000 years under operation, but as it is in present times were closed some years ago and now are a museum. We pass a meadow slope which is a favorite training area of the hang gliders. There is a nice view of the skyline of Goslar as well. Then we fly down to the valley of the Oker. The bridge is named "Messingbrücke" (Brass Bridge) and continues as "Messingstrasse". Guess where they have digged for brass in the Harz area.
Now I have to climb up a staircase! Without baggage this is no problem. Similar to a railwaystation with the underpasses. Then there is an outlook to the geological sensation of this region, the "Geologischer Aufschluss Langenberg" (geological outcrop). This is said to be like an open book of geological layers and formations. Thereafter we surround the town of Harzburg, cross the Horse Racecourse first and in the suburb Bündheim have a nice view to the Brocken which peers through a gap aside the Burgberg. There is one special spot for this only, and if you will search for it: it is just before the railway bridge
We pass the hamlet Westerode and meet a nice meadow landscape "Am Butterberg". This geologic origin is interesting too, for it looks like a big slice which was pressed upside. Up on the ridge there is a wind wheel, which is older than all the modern new built "wind parks". The path now disappears in the forest and this section is somewhat boring. Then we reach the river Ecker and this was the former German border. There is a refuge, table and bench now, but some people sit already and I head on. Interesting impressions at Ilsenburg: at the Blochauer Brücke there seems the sign of the witch to hint in 5 various directions, one of it a staircase. Last year we denied the staircase, and that was wrong. The staircase is the real cycle path and ends at an old building named "Schlosshotel Ilsenburg". In the courtyard there are some chairs and tables and a picturesque old chapel.
I am surprised to be still on the right path. There is an idyllic pont in the forest and above Darlingerode there are hedges and garden sites. We pass the northern part of the watershed Weser - Elbe. In addition there is a geologic fault somewhere, as to be read on a sign again. Down a nice valley along fishponds we reach Wernigerode. This town follows Goslar as well as possible concerning the restauration of half timbered houses. We enter the centre of the town through a wall gate. Just then a group of tourists comes along: "Where is the railwaystation, please?" in Saxonian dialect. I suppose they will go to the Brocken with the Harzquerbahn.
The market is full of chairs and tables of the open air restaurants. I stroll along the back lanes and admire the complete phalanx of half-timbered houses. Remember the town of Stolberg which was described in the preceding chapter. I look for the cycling witch again and find my way behind the Lustgarten. Not far away is the romantic palace, known from the advertising of Hasseröder Beer. We resist of a visit today, this will be done on the occasion of our works outing, which happens to occur just one day later.
I stop and turn the sheet with the tour-map of my brochure. Suddenly I hear a voice from above: "Just go ahead". There is a woman cleaning the windows up in a building. "I just want to see how far to go" I give to reply. "To Blankenburg?" she asks back. "No to Aschersleben". "Oh je...!" and the dialogue is finished.But on the continuation we also can observe the other side of Wernigerode with the ugly DDR-Plattenbauten. Another site looks like a parish fair area from a distance. And there are colorful flags and advertisings, white industrial buildings and super markets. This is to be found everywhere in the newer and older Germany: a industrial and shopping center just out of the town, only reachable by car.
Some kilometres ahead there is another party. I once hear a nice trumpet music from a meadow with lots of horse carriages. But I don't bother and head on. So I climb the path up to the natural reservate Struvenberg with music from behind. There is a geological nature trail with signs and descriptions of peculiarities of the geology in the Harz. The title is "400 Million Years of Earth's Hisory". There are fountains, faults, sediments to be seen.At one spot there is an outcrop with steep layers of rock which are formed by the mountain pressure.
At the next cultural aspect we hit on the Road of Romanik. We just have the cloister of Michaelstein at this place. Last year I made a photo of the portal and that was nice. This time this is not so recommendable because someone has deposited a heap of bulky refuse just aside the portal. Some time later I hit on a brand new building complex with much elegance and promenades under glass. I think this is the REHA-hospital Teufelsbad. Within the village Oesig I loose the cycling witch again and I reach Blankenburg on the road. In front of the impressive city hall I am right again. At some distance uphill there must be a castle. I look at the map and seek the witch. Eventually I find her at the next pile.
We head to an estated located on a hill and then down to the village Cattenstedt. In spite of the fine road the path soon leads into muddy tracks in the woods. This time I want to roll comfortably for a while and so stay on the road until Thale. I start to calculate now. We have 3 pm, so I made 100 km in 8 hours. The distance to Aschersleben is 30 km, this will last 2 hours (with tailwind). The train back to Goslar will go at 5.25 pm. So things could work well. When I reach Ballenstedt we have 18 km yet, some time later 12 km. The tailwind works well, I have sometimes more than 30 km/h on the speedometer. But the traffic on the mainroad B 185 is dense and this is not so fine. Just at 5 pm I arrive at Aschersleben, twin town of Peine. The main color is grey here, but there is a brand new building, a dream of glass. It is the administration of the district.
We have time enough to have a glance to the centre and find the "Altstadt Center" - everything built brand new inclusive a modern hotel. I am sure there were old houses at this place which had to give way to the mighty investors. After some time I find two or so small lanes near the Stephanikirche. There are some old uninhabited houses in decay. I wonder if they will restaurate them. (Frome the Internet page of Aschersleben one can find some ancient relicts along the former town wall).
I return by train and for the first time use the new
- Vienenburg. From Goslar I must cycle back to my car and so at last
have made 150 km this day. And I had no rain all over the day except
the very last km.
Halberstadt - Quedlinburg - Sangerhausen, 100 km, 13.9.
The circuit sections until now clinch the Harz mountain like tongs and the last missing section is from Thale to Wippra. I know these regions from earlier tours at the river Selke and Wipper. But let us have a plan: for a last attempt we could deposit the car at Halberstadt, start the tour via Quedlinburg, Thale and Wippra until Sangerhausen and return from there by train.
Once planned the next opportunity will be used for execution. The weather forecast is not so good, cold and showers now and then. But for it is the 13 th may be this is a fortunate day. During the drive to Halberstadt it starts raining and when I arrive a steady rain falls down. We have been some times at this town but have never seen the few remaining older parts. The town was destroyed in the war, but most of the relicts decayed during the DDR-aera when the more "attractive" concrete Plattenbauten were favored by the authorities and inhabitants as well. I come around a corner and behind the cathedral I find myself in the center of the old part of the town. Some time later I park the car, some rotten houses around, let us hope that they return to life one day.
I put my raincoat on, fix the handlebar bag and the rucksack and then can start into the rainy morning. I have no city map so must switch on my sense of direction. The brochure about the Harz circuit describes a side tour to Halberstadt, I will try to find this route. And I really find it along the Westerhäuser Strasse near the Spiegelsberge. It is a fine feeling to leave a town on the right route. I cycle in a damp and misty forest. As I reach the southern end of the wood there is a strange illumination: the sky is dark from the rain but at the west there is a bright band at the horizon. And in consequence the rain soon stops.
At the border of the wood I find a sign: Gläserner Mönch, 0.5 km. I am curious about the backgrond of this hint. The secret is a rotten former excursion restaurant with a dance platform, terraces and bungalows, but all in ruins. The skeleton of a Trabbi in the garden contains a big plant of the Herakleum (Herakleum mantegazzianum). This all has seen better times, I think. Nearby there is the memorial place Zwieberge, there had been a concentration camp of the Nazis. The "Gläserner Mönch" is a rock with a nice outlook.
I continue to Langenstein, an idyllic little hamlet. There is a sign of the remains of a fortification and formerly inhabited caves. The fortification is on the top of a hill and unreachable by bike. But the caves are nearby and I leave the bike behind. I have seen something about these caves in the television. There is a real lane as a plain channel in the soft sandstone. Aside are the cavities, some are connected and combined to several rooms. It is said that the last inhabitants were here at 1916. At one of those caves there is an entrance door and house number. The age of these artificial caves is unknown. May be the "normal" houses around which are glued to the slopes have secret underground rooms too. Would be well suited for a party room or vine cellar. At some gardens one can see cavities with garden furniture, grill and sun umbrellar.
Thereafter one has to stay to a creek and meadows and soon reaches the next hamlet Börnecke. This looks somewhat rural "behind the mountains". At Westerhausen I pass the Königsstein, which is a group of jagged rocks and reach the main road B6. Then it's a stone throw to Quedlinburg, another world heritage site. As usual we find ourselves at the market place. Today at Saturday it is market time. Moreover there are various tourist groups, noticeable at their bent necks and a reclaiming person. I buy a sausage (Schinkenkrakauer) and chewing I watch the stone statue named Roland at the corner of the city hall. Around the market place are pretty half timbered houses. There was done much work during the last years to rebuild or restaurate the buildings, which were in decay from the DDR-period. Most famous is the castle hill and the Domschatz, but today there is no time for this. Eventually I look for the railway station to get out of the town.
Behind the rails there is the path to the ruins of the Gersdorfer Burg. I pass the Seweckenberge, a nature reservate with neglected grassland (Magerrasen). The rest of the Gersdorfer Burg is the tower only, nearby is a manor. I crawl in the bushes around the tower in a savaged park. There is an entrance and the door is broken. Behind the broken door however there is a locked grid of steel and let us be sure that this is the better thing for the ruins are rather fragile. So I turn to the next sandwich. We approach the Harz again, the sun is shining now. There is another geological phenomenon: a sharp ridge looks like a tilted layer of rock, a nature reservate too. During the steady climb the outlook gets better and soon we see the fine skyline of Quedlinburg and Halberstadt (The towers of Halberstadt are known to salutate over long distances).
We pass a shooting stand at the left, one can hear that they are busy to fire their guns. Near by there is a motocross race area. But this is deserted today. We reach Ballenstedt and the park of the castle. And I find myself at the "wrong" side - the backside - of the castle. This is somewhat rotten, but they are at work and the frontside shines in a bright yellow. There is a nice view to the streets of the town but I fail to find the witch-sign here. I find the road to Meisdorf and this is the correct path as well. There is a brand new golf course, 18 holes, the bunkers are filled with sand, the greens are sowed already but the balls do not fly yet. "Golf und Resortplatz Schlosshotel Meisdorf" is to be read at a sign. I dare to make a short trip into the park, there are sites for various open air sport activities like chess, tennis, squash, boccia etc. There is a training site for golfers as well where they exercise for the big "hole in one". At a high fence you can read: "Beware of the flying balls!". As a poor cyclist I do not feel convenient here and after a short round I run out to the freedom again.
We head on towards the ruin of the monastery Konradsburg. This is located on a hill and I resign to visit the picturesque site. I look for a shortcut to avoid some kilometres of the circuit path. I find the way via the tiny village Burggrund but miss to see the church at Endorf and a peculiar windmill somewhere. Now we come to Neuplatendorf and have to climb again. There is a wide view to the foothills of the easter Harz. Near the horizon we see the cone shaped heap of Sangerhausen already, our destination today. The next villages are Wiesenrode and Ulzingerode and there are nice churches. Just ahead there is a strange building, looks like an ugly apartment building on a hill. But at last it is the ruin of the fortification Arnstein.
The next section is very nice along the valley of the creek Eine. At Alterode I hit on a festival and I have to push my bike just across the fairground. The people look at me as if I were an alien. Soon I leave it all behind, leave the road too and trust on an adventurous path in the valley. Now and then one has to cross a meadow or pass a fallen trunk. While I climb out the end of the valley there is time to calculate about the rest of the day. If I am fast enough I could reach the train from Sangerhausen to Halberstadt, otherwise will have to wait another two hours. We finally reach the National Road B242, which is named "Harzhochstrasse". There is a road-restaurant, and this is named "Rammelburg-Blick". And in fact, beneath there is the castle Rammelburg. We have a height of 320 m now and I rush down, passing the castle without a stop for I will not disturb my arrival-calculation. But from the valley of the Wipper one has to climb out again with some sweat. Meanwhile we have a fine sunshine and the route between the meadows is nice. At the famous Kohlenstrasse and a height of 350 m I have really completed the Harz-circuit. Moreover this is the last summit of the entire tour, and so the descent to Sangerhausen is a special pleasure. At last I have 45 minutes for the last 5 km and I think you trust in me that I reach the train in time. At 4.30 pm we leave at Sangerhausen and are back in Halberstadt at 6 pm.
That's it, let's have a summary, which is to be read out of
text as well:
|Path-Quality||Many paths are gravel and asphalt is an exception aside from some roads. The path is not suited for large distance tours with heavy load.|
|Uphills||Mountains are not plane areas and the foreland is not plane either. But if one likes a fine outlook he has to climb on a hill. And thereafter the downhill-kick will be the reward.|
|Gastronomy||The Harz mountains are a highly developped touristic region. Therefore the variety of restaurants, pensions and hotels is large. For I went for my own and never needed an accommodation there is nothing said about this aspect in this report.|
|Sightseeing||At the northern part of the trail there are two world heritage sites. And one can touch the "Strasse der Romanik". The southern part has an interesting karst-geology. The landscape is more beautiful in the eastern part.|
|Public Transport||All larger towns are connected to the railway net. So it is no problem to start at a certain point and return to it by train.|
|Conclusion||You will learn a lot. I know the Harz since more than 25 years, but had to learn to cycle predominantly in unknown areas.|