The second stage of the cloister hiking path leads us from Ilsenburg to Wöltingerode. Next to the wonderful nature a lot to history-charged places are to be discovered. First of all there is the former cloister Ilsenburg. Alongside the “Green ribbon” (the former inner German border) we come across the “Jungborn” and the former forester’s lodge “Eckerkrug”. In the “Schimmerwald” we learn on the one hand that vegetarian restaurants also existed in the 19th century. On the other hand, we read, GDR-commanders even suspended that elderly people in rest homes have a high flight risk. We encounter the reminiscence of the forester’s lodge Schimmerwald. At the “Mühlendorf” we meet a very history-assiduous and nice landowner. Finally we are crossing the bridge of unity. Passing the place Lochtum we reach Wiedelah. There we take a quick look at the scenic located castle before we go back to Vienenburg.
Ora et labora
We start our tour having wonderful weather at the train station in Ilsenburg. First of all we take a good look around the small town. At the country hotel and restaurant “Rothe Forelle” we enjoy the sundaily calm at the adjacent lake. Slowly we move towards the castle and the cloister. We have an appointment at 10:30 a.m. for a guided tour through the monastery. Unfortunately, the guide does not show up. Therefore we have to explore the place on our own. Whereas I can recommend the sightseeing itself I cannot recommend the guide.
The monastery is a former Benedictine cloister in Romanesque style. It has been built between 1003 and 1018. The church that belongs to the monastery (it is being restored at the moment) was built in 1087. Unfortunately both, the monastery and the church, are partly destroyed. Still it is possible to get an idea what the place might have looked like in the old days. The computer simulation which can be used in the small refectory is a big help. The cloister is surrounded by a beautiful parkway. Unfortunately we do not have the time to explore it. However, we are sure to return for a second visit, particularly because of the “Café im Schloss” with its homemade cakes.
Nude all day long
We leave the place and walk back to the marketplace. Passing by the trout lake we hike along the Kastanienallee until we reach the Eckertal. Pacing through bosky compound we reach the former forest’s lodge “Eckerkrug”. There we experience our first historical surprise of the day. First of all it is a shame that this wonderful forester’s lodge does not exist anymore. The building fell a victim to the demarcation. The erected presentation boards make clear how beautiful the place must have been. However the actual sensation is that the first natural sanatorium of Germany was the “Jungborn”. Established by Alfred Just in the year 1896 themed “light, air, loam and water” a nudism facility of a special kind was brought to life. Not only the vegetarian food was special at that time. No, for recreation one stayed either in the “ladies’ park” or “gentlemen’s park” during the day – naked. It’s no wonder that the idea spread around the world quickly. Patients from all over the world pilgrimaged to “Jungborn”. Among the followers were famous people like Marika Röck and Franz Kafka.
Nowadays next to the signs “ladies’ park” and “gentlemen’s park” two lovingly and true-to-detail constructed “light and air small houses” invite you for a break.
Forester’s lodge Schimmerwald
We continue alongside the Ecker and reach the village Eckertal. At this place the inner German boundary has been opened on 11.11.1989 – right after Berlin. We follow the river (it is 26 km long) towards Abbenrode. We walk along the Schimmerwald, an old beech forest with very high trees. We make another discovery. Between Abbenrode and Lochtum lies the “Mühlendorf” (mill village). Close to the village we reach a memorial and an information-board evocative of the former hunting lodge of 1757, the vegetarian recreation home forest lodge Lange Altfeld Abbenrode and the forester’s lodge Schimmerwald. Unfortunately the place was vandalized. Curious and amazed we read about the forest’s lodge history whose owner was disseized by the Russians in 1945. The forest lodge became then a rest home. However, it was shut down in GDR-times due to the fear that the inhabitants might flee to Western Germany. Finally the place decayed.
Napoleon and Wallenstein
On the former military road, upon which Napoleon and Wallenstein used to ride, we discover a beautiful manor on the left hand side. By chance, the owner spots us and we get into a conversation. He tells us that the portray of Wilhelm I. was put on the façade due to the emperor’s coronation in 1871 at Versailles. We also talk about the relationship between duke Anton Ulrich and the Austrian empress Maria Theresia (well nobility stayed amongst themselves at that time), the historical line of the border between the kingdom of Prussia and the dukedom of Brunswieck (today Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony). The owner also tells us about the once projected shooting of the manor and its idyllic ambience. Still, they did not take place in the end. The family was afraid that the place could become a second “Glottertal”.
The bridge of unity
The way from the “mill village” towards Wiedelah leads us over the bridge of unity (opening of the border on 27.1.1990). From there we turn right into a dirt road. We pass by the “Vienenburger Steakhouse” and walk under the highway 395 in order to reach Wiedelah. We are surprised to see another idyllic castle. Unfortunately it cannot be visited, it has been converted into a residential building. We continue to follow the signs of the cloister hiking trail and turn right to Vienenburg. Our hiking tour ends at the Vienenburg train-station. With a coffee respectively a hot wine on the go we enjoy the last sunbeams of the day. Happy and satisfied we adjourn back to Brunswieck.
My résumé: A hiking tour with the impact of a fountain of youth!
Summary of the tour:
Length: 18 km – walking time: approx. 4 hours (w/o breaks and sightseeing) – altitude: 213 m up and 290 m down.