The Great Heath Tour near Hermannsburg
Some things are simply reliable. Not only does Christmas come around every year. The giant water lily Victoria cruziana from Braunschweig also delights us anew each year. And then there’s the heather bloom, a special natural spectacle that captivates many people annually between early August and early September. Hooked by a visit in the year 2021 to the South Heath near Gifhorn, this year we set off for the Misselhorn Heath near Hermannsburg. This time it’s the Great Heath Tour. All of this takes place in the laundry-room atmosphere of this summer. After being initially humid and cool, it’s now hot and humid. So, the trip turns out to be a sweaty affair. The vast expanses of the “Lavender of the North” impress us despite the effort and evoke a sense of calm and peacefulness within us.
In the Misselhorn Heath
After Thursday’s rain had already heralded the arrival of autumn, summer returns with full force in the end. However, not only are the temperatures rising (33 degrees), but also the humidity. Thunderstorms are forecasted for the evening. There’s enough time to explore the blooming heath on two wheels. Through an internet search, we become aware of the Great Heath Tour. It’s supposed to start near Hermannsburg and then cover 39 kilometers through the heath. As we set off, the first cumulus clouds are already forming, but blue sky is still visible. Nearly 1.5 hours later, we reach the parking lot at Misselhorn Heath. We orient ourselves once again using the maps at the site, then head towards Eicksberg parking lot. Meanwhile, the sun has hidden behind a layer of gray clouds. That’s a shame, because the heather bloom shines even more beautifully when it’s sunny.
We set off and initially ride through a beautiful forest area that leads us directly to the first heather-covered area. Incredible, a purple carpet stretches out before us as far as the eye can see. Individual hikers cross our path, walking directly through the sandy trails along the flower carpets. Speaking of sand, it becomes clear after the first meters that cycling through the heath won’t be a leisurely ride. While the bike paths aren’t as sandy as the hiking trails, the wheels sink in after the rain of the past few days. There are continuous inclines, and of course, the high humidity adds to the challenge.
Just as we’ve entered another section of forest, we see a sign with excitement, announcing a café. Oh yes, a short break could really do us good right now. On the right, we spot the Heidehexe Café. The terrace invites us to linger, and that’s exactly what we do. It’s incredible how refreshing an ice-cold apple juice spritzer can be. We resist the blueberry wine and opt for cake instead. After regaining our strength, we continue. We now pass through the juniper forest of Schmarbeck, where we notice beautifully renovated farmsteads with oak trees. Unfortunately, the whole liquid we’ve just consumed evaporates within a short time.
Luftbrücken Museum Faßberg
As the rain starts to get a bit heavier, we experience true “laundry-room feeling.” Nevertheless, I love the heather bloom, the beautiful country estates, the brick houses, and the peaceful atmosphere. I’m very impressed by the vast, purple expanses. How dense the heather stands here.
Just before Faßberg, the rain becomes a bit stronger, so we take shelter in a hut for a moment. Unbelievably, sweat is dripping down my face and body. This is really taking a toll on our energy. In the town of Faßberg, a cultural highlight awaits us: the Berlin Airlift Memorial. We would have liked to visit the small museum, but it closed half an hour ago. So, we have to be content with the glimpses we can catch through the fence, such as the view of a genuine Douglas C-47 A Dakota airlift aircraft.
Right next door is Faßberg Airfield. This airfield also has its history, which starts in 1933. To be precise, in November 1933, with the sale of land to an unknown gentleman. Only a few months later, in February 1934, construction begins. It doesn’t take long for the Stukas to start their high-pitched “C” calls.
From Faßberg, we cycle to the Gerdehaus turnoff. There, we enter the forest again and eventually take a sharp left towards Weesen. It’s now just over two kilometers until we’re back at our starting point, the parking lot at Mittelhorn Heath. A beautiful tour that’s enjoyable to ride. Due to the weather, though, we’re quite worn out when we reach our car. But this certainly won’t be our last visit to the heath.