Externsteine bei Detmold

On the E1 from Detmold to Altenbeken – Part 2

Flora, Fauna and an awe-inspiring rock formation.

In his travel and wandering blog Breitengrad66 Journalist Thomas Limberg tells stories from his travels throughout the world and in his own backyard. He is writing about what he saw and experienced over two days on the E1 from Detmold to Altenbeken as a guest author. In the second part, he talks about the eagle station Berlebeck, the Velmerstot and the enchanting Externsteine.

The E1 runs just behind the cabin where the sculptor Ernst von Bandel had lived while creating the Hermann monument. The trail is excellently signposted. You can’t miss it. I turned off into a nature reserve. The next waypoint was Berlebeck, a town that was still 4.5 km away. The track weaves completely level through the forest. Fresh greenery was shooting up everywhere. The only sounds that could be heard were numerous bird calls and the rustling of leaves every once in a while. There were masses of chaffinches along the way and I even caught sight of several woodpeckers. What is that rustling in the leaves over there? At first, I couldn’t see anything, but then I was lucky enough to have a cute bank vole peer up at me with its cuddly, beady eyes. For a while I could only watch on while it gleefully nibbled away at a blade of grass. Then it disappeared as suddenly as it came.

I reached Berlebeck quickly. I passed by an eagle station but didn’t stop here. The observation point isn’t particularly big. Nevertheless, I’m glad I got to go there. Beautiful animals that you’ll only rarely catch sight of elsewhere are native to this region. My camera was already almost completely worn out. The majestic animals create an infinite amount of photographic opportunities.

The flat part of the hike ended in Berlebeck. The terrain fell off steeply behind the eagle station. The E1 leads down into the town. There, you walk along a babbling brook for a little bit before coming back up to the slope. It’s possible to cross over the 401 metre high Stemberg. Sweat started to pour once again. But the short burst of effort was worth it. You can see far into the distance from the top of the mountain ridges. There is also a memorial stone for the so-called ‘Vogeltaufe’ (Bird’s baptism) up there. According to legend, once upon a time the abbot Athanasius wanted to baptise the pagan Saxon noblemen in the Stemberg spring. In order to accompany this event with the appropriate chant, monks were supposed to travel from Paderborn. But before the ceremony one of the singers appeared, covered in dust and blood, and reported that they had been attacked by Saxons and had scattered. He advised the abbot to postpone the baptism, but the abbot refused. Then, when one of Widukind’s former fellow warriors, Abbio von Thiotmalli, renounced all the pagan gods during the baptism, there was a murmur in the air. Hundreds of small brown birds flew down into the spring and started to sing a song of praise, like no human ear had ever heard before, or will ever hear again.

In places the ridge is barely wooded. A wonderful mountain heath has been maintained here. Only very small spruce trees reach their wispy tips between the blueberry bushes and the heather. I spent a lot of time up here watching the bees, buzzing diligently as they collected the first nectar of the year. Way in the distance, I could already see the lookout tower on the Velmerstot, to which I would be pulled as things developed over the coming days. The more I kept descending, the more noticeably humid the countryside on the edge of the track became. More and more primroses could be seen. In the Bärenstein nature reserve, the track started ascending once again, before I finally made it to the Externsteine.

When I first caught sight of the striking rock formation through the gaps in the trees, behind a dammed lake, I was immediately overcome with enthusiasm. The natural monument is reflected in the water. I can imagine why these sandstone rocks are the stuff of so many legends. In truth, I am still yet to see something that comes close to them. It became apparent why the Externsteine have fascinated entire generations since the stone ages. They somehow seemed like an illusion and yet fit so beautifully into the landscape. The fact that the weather had been getting progressively worse at the last minute and that dark clouds were gathering in the sky, suited the scenery. The stones appeared all the more archaic. I desperately wanted to go higher. Steep stairways lead up from two sides. I stood on the peak and let my thoughts run wild. What might have already happened here throughout the course of history. There are caves, reliefs and caverns. How might these have come to be and above everything, why?

It started to rain. It didn’t matter to me anymore. The Externsteine were the end point of the day’s leg. The hotel, from where I set off in the morning by bus towards the bird park, is nearby. I already shot several hundred photos on the first day of being on this divine trail. I’m not wasting any more thoughts about the North Cape or Sicily now. I’m definitely convinced that I’ve caught hold of a genuine highlight on the E1 with this leg and look forward to the second part of the trail.

To be continued in the next part of the hiking article.