Externsteine bei Detmold

When the heath is in bloom – hiking on the E1

Wellness and travel blogger Tanja Klindworth just can’t get the Lüneburg Heath out of her mind. She set off through the heath on the E1 European long-distance hiking trail many a time over the Summer to catch a glimpse of the landscape, blazing in full bloom. That’s all the better for us, since we have Tanja’s perseverance and passion for discovery to thank for an absolutely stunning blog post accompanied by excellent photos:

The author Hermann Löns already dedicated many lines to the Lüneburg Heath, but that definitely isn’t the only reason why I’m drawn back into the Heath again and again. For sure, there are many people for whom the landscape of the Lüneburg Heath doesn’t do much for at all. Some might even find her frumpy. I just can’t for the life of me share this view. The seemingly barren heathland proves itself to be very multi-faceted, colourful and diverse.

The natural spectacle of the blooming heath

The last time I was hiking through part of the Lüneburg Heath, it was in full bloom. The locals even often refer to the blooming of the Heath as “the burning of the Heath”. This expression captures the spectacle pretty aptly, as the carpet of flowering heather, stained in tones from various red and pink tones all the way to a deep purple, resembles a spectacular sea of flames.

Different stretches of the European long-distance hiking trail lend themselves very well to walking straight through the middle of this sea of blooming heather. The path leads through the heath in this way to scenic highlights such as the Totengrund, the museum village of Wilsede, through the Wilseder Berg or even to other picturesque little heath towns such as Undeloh or Nindorf.

According to the lore of the heath, the heath burns, or rather blooms, from the 8th of August to the 9th of September. But because of the patchy weather in the north of Germany, the so-called “burning Heath” had to wait a little bit before catching alight this year. The first small heather blooms didn’t appear until the 10th of August, but the blooming inferno didn’t really take off until the end of August.

The heath awakens: blueberries instead of a fiery, red heath

We had planned to walk through the “burning” heath in the middle of August. We started off our route near the small museum village of Wilsede. Our next stops on the hike were the Wilseder Berg, the Bolterberg, the Totengrund and the Steingrund.

Seeing as we wanted to take a lot of time to soak up the nature and take photographs, we had allowed a whole day for a mere 12-kilometre-long stretch of track. The weather that accompanied us on our day’s hike was rather average and even the heath bloomed somewhat lacklustre. Even though the sun came out a few times throughout the day, rain clouds and drops kept intermittently rolling in. Despite that, it was a very inspiring hike through small, winding paths amongst the Heath’s initial, almost shy looking, blooms. Every now and then we went past a horse-drawn carriage, nibbled on blueberries from the side of the track (which also came a little bit late this year) and enjoyed Wilsede specialities from the Heidschnucke sheep.

The fiery Heath: hiking through the blooming Heath at sunset

Due to the Heath blooming quite modestly in the middle of August, I decided to return for another hike at the beginning of September. Filled with the hope that the Heath would now be alight in all its fiery glory, I set off on my tour of fourteen kilometres all up in the late afternoon in the quaint Heath village of Behringen.

The path actually led me through the blooming carpets of heather to the pedestrianised museum town of Wilsede. I made it to the Wilseder Berg just in time for sunset. That day’s sunset was absolutely breath-taking – it was like a cliché as it sank down into an ocean of purple. As dusk fell, I set off on the last leg of my hike through the blooming heath. My goal was the little Heath village of Undeloh, steeped in tradition – which was still a good five kilometres away. The clouds slowly pulled over the heathland and once again conjured up a completely unique, almost a little eerie, mood. It was already dark when I finally reached Undeloh with a spring in my step.

Tip: there are accommodation options right in the museum town of Wilsede. In addition, the little heath village Undeloh, which also lies in the heart of the Lüneburg Heath even offers idyllically situated parking spaces for campervans.

All pictures in this post ©Tanja Klindworth; spaness.de