Externsteine bei Detmold

On the E1 from Detmold to Altenbeken – Part 3

Under the spell of the European long-distance hiking trail, the E1.

In the third and last part of his guest contribution, Journalist Thomas Limberg speaks about the second day of his hike, where the Egge Hills really caused him to work up a sweat.

The European long-distance hiking trail has cast a spell over me. Yesterday I hiked on the trail from the Hermann monument to the Externsteine. Now I’m seizing the opportunity and linking up with another leg of the trail that runs over 7000 kilometres from the North Cape to Sicily.

As I’d spent the night in the immediate vicinity of the Externsteine in a hotel in Horn-Bad Meinberg, I started this day’s hike about 4 kilometres away in the small town of Leopoldstal. The reason for picking this town is because it has a direct railway connection to the hiking trail. I could park my car at the planned final destination in Altenbeken at the beginning and then get the train from there to Leopoldstal.

This journey takes about 15 minutes by train. I would need more than four hours on foot. Once again, the track is excellently signposted. I saw the first signposts showing me where I needed to go straight away on the platform. I like the direction they indicated, even though the signs point directly to the forest. I make a turn and the trail immediately starts going fairly uphill. Yesterday I was still out and about in the Teutoburg forest, and now it is its southern offshoot – the Egge Hills – that are causing me to break out in sweat.

I was completely alone as I walked along the side of a creek. Only a few chaffinches fluttered excitedly back and forth. I gained altitude quickly and was soon able see very fair into the valley. I kept stumbling across information boards, that supply fascinating background information about the surrounding landscape. On one of them I read that even wild cats are supposed to be indigenous here. I secretly hoped to catch a glimpse of one of the shy animals and paid attention to every sound in the forest. As it happens, this paid off. Although it wasn’t a cat, but rather a lizard that I only just caught sight of before it disappeared between two dead branches.

Suddenly I reached a small clearing, unveiling imposing rocks. The knotty roots of the pine trees that reach onto the trail were covered in moss. The forest almost seems cliché at this point, but none the less fascinating. This would make the perfect backdrop for all types of fairy tales. I can vividly imagine Little Red Riding Hood walking amongst the rocks or Hansel and Gretel stumbling upon a witch’s cottage.

But before my imagination gets the better of me, I keep hiking. In only 5 minutes, I reach the second highest point of the Egge Hills – the Lippe Velmerstot. Gigantic stones rest around here. The view from the peak is amazing, despite mist in the air. On clear days, you would even be able to see all the way to Kassel. For me, the area around the peak is one of the most beautiful of the entire journey. There are only a few trees here. This is made up for by an abundance of heather and blueberry bushes, with small rock formations scattered throughout. By the way, the sandstone from Velmerstot can still be found elsewhere in Germany. From the 19th Century until the Second World War it was mined in a quarry beneath the summit. The stone obtained was used in the construction of buildings such as Cologne Cathedral and the Berlin Reichstag.

However, there is an even higher point in the Egge Hills – the Prussian Velmerstot. I reached this 464 metre high peak a few minutes later. Once again, the landscape here is one that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Only a few shrubs and small trees, with lots of heather and blueberries. Especially in late Summer when the berries are ripe and the heather is blooming, it must be like a dream here. The wooden Egge tower is another highlight. From a height of over 10 metres, you can see out far into the Teutoburg forest, the Senne or even the Weserberg and Sauerland regions.

While there were some hikers at Velmerstot, after that it was suddenly completely quite once again. The following 10 kilometres or so to Altenbeken run directly over the mountain ridge. Because for the meantime there is no suitable way to get to here from the valley, I only ran into one other hiker in the two hours that I was walking up here straight ahead.

Only birds trilling cut through the silence. One is left alone with himself and his thoughts. You can’t avoid being overcome by a feeling of deep relaxation. I was constantly aiming my camera into the forest. The thick trunks of the beech trees or the dark undergrowth of the conifer trees inspires me. What a wonderful country I live in, I think to myself again and again.

A little melancholy was creeping up on me, when I reached a signpost announcing that I was nearing the end of my trip. There was only 3.1 kilometres left until Altenbeken. I left the ridge of the Egge Hills and descended down a steep path. 20 minutes later and I’m back in civilisation. There is no culture shock – it is still quiet and tranquil. I like Altenbeken. I wander through a street with well-kept front gardens. Colourful Easter decorations adorn the entrances of the houses. Beyond them, I spot the famous viaduct. The train station is not far off now.