Externsteine bei Detmold

Travel bloggers search for imagery in the homeland of Arminius

– The September sun is shining with full force this morning; yet in the middle of the Hermann Monument, it’s dark. The little light that does make its way inside, through the nostrils of the colossus, fails to penetrate the base of the 53.46-metre-tall monument. Before Carolin is placed into a harness by Michi and Corbin from Interakteam, a miner’s lamp is attached to her helmet. Under the specialist guidance of the two experienced climbers, the cheerful travel blogger makes the steep – and sometimes rather narrow – climb into the head of Arminius, the Germanic tribal warrior.

Carolin is one of six travel bloggers and three photographers whom we invited to join us in the homeland of Arminius, where the E1 and R1 trails cross over to get a closer look at the focal point of the E1|R1 Photo Award, seeking out imagery and reporting on the journey. As the blogger meet-up had the additional aim of building networks within the community, we met on the Friday at the Lippischer Hof hotel in Detmold to start the weekend with a visit to the nearby LWL Open Air Museum of rural life, where the bloggers could get to know each other better while riding in carriages, enjoying a guided tour, and working together to build a model half-timbered house before the action-packed weekend continued on Saturday morning at the Arminius Monument.

Climbing into the head of Arminius

Carolin and her boyfriend, Jake, from Walk’n Travel joined the climb to the Arminius Monument on Saturday. The climbing expedition into the head of Arminius was a highlight of the day, both for the globetrotting couple and for others in the group. One after another, they all emerged with a radiant smile at the base of the statute following a successful climb. For Sven in particular, the action was illuminating in every sense of the word, as he had always believed that his father was kidding him during his childhood when he told him that you could look out through the nostrils of the statute of Arminius. Now, the writer behind hiking-europe.eu could see the truth of the story with his own eyes, and perhaps add another verified fact to what is probably the most comprehensive online coverage of the E1 European Long-Distance Hiking Trail. However, the inside of the Arminius monument is not especially photogenic, as Sophia realised; however, she did manage to take a photo at the foot of the statue.  Indeed, she was quite literally at the “foot” of the statue, and on her Instagram at sophias__welt the Bavarian blogger with the cheeky charm posted a quick selfie from the hatch, her eyes wild with the delight of exploration. Outdoor shots on the E1 and R1 trails are probably easier to achieve, however.

Hiking on the E1

After the climb through the statue of Arminius, local historian Cornelia Müller-Hisje shared exciting anecdotes and historical background about the Battle of Varus and the monument that the bloggers had just climbed. Cornelia had joined us at the WALK Hiking Skills Centre and brightened up our lunch breaks with her infectious enthusiasm for the region’s history.

The day’s events continued along the E1 European Long-Distance Hiking Trail in the company of Dr Axel Gerstmeyer from the German Hiking Federation, (the Deutsche Wanderverband). For many of the group, this was their first visit to the trail. Along the stage from the Arminius Monument to the Externsteine rock formation, there was further confirmation of what the journalist and travel blogger, Thomas Limberg had already realised when he walked the stage earlier in the year: the Teutoburger Wald is a mountain range in its own right and that the Hermann Heights (the Hermannshöhen) – Hermann is German for ‘Arminius’ – live up to their name. The more experienced hikers among the team of bloggers found the ascent and descent to be relatively gentle, though the team of organisers who had joined the hike broke quite a sweat. At least there were plenty of opportunities to stop for a photo and get our breath back.

Once we had reached our destination, the region’s best-known photo opportunity awaited us. Despite constantly appearing in shots taken by tourists and amateur photographers, the view from the Externsteine in Horn-Bad Meinberg has lost none of its fascination. Although the participants had all heard of the natural phenomenon, it was the first visit to the legendary sandstone phenomenon for all except Thomas and therefore it was no surprise that no one wanted to skip climbing the narrow steps to the top of the stones and enjoy the views into the distance.

After our return to the hotel following a successful day, increasingly heavy rain set in, although it no longer bothered anyone by this stage. The next morning, while others were still enjoying a lie-in, Louisa took advantage of the proximity to the Externsteine to hunt for more shots at the crack of dawn, and her shots of the abandoned Externsteine in the early morning mist made being such an early riser well worth her while.

Cycling on the R1

By Sunday morning, the rain had passed and the sun was shining on satisfied bloggers, who were preparing for the day’s adventures. We took the e-bikes that we had brought with us from the VW bus and, one by one, each member of the group found a suitable ride. Raleigh had kindly lent us enough Pedelecs via the Bücker Cycle Centre so that we could all complete a tour along the R1. Some spontaneously choose a ladies’ bike with a centrally-mounted Bosch motor, while others chose the men’s bike with a rear-mounted motor. With fully charged batteries and enough energy for between 50 and 200 kilometres of range, depending on the level of assistance, we hit the road.

The athletic travel bloggers and photographers were a little taken aback by the concept of electrical assistance when cycling at first; however, this made them even more curious to see what it was like. Their curiosity was quickly satisfied – with an extremely positive response, and after the first few metres, all tended to agree that Pedelecs are a great alternative for cycling enthusiasts who would prefer to get a little more support on their travels. Nicole even dutifully tagged her parents in an Instagram post. Quite rightly so: on the e-bikes, even the more demanding climbs of the R1 European Cycle Trail are a pleasure and the route into the Silberbach Valley was a truly relaxing experience.

The Silberbach Valley was helped to look its best by the rain of the night before and the rays of sun penetrating the dense canopy of vegetation. The waters of the Silberbach stream bubble and gurgle their meandering way through the lush, green tones of the Teutoburger Wald forest, and the abundance of beautiful vies tempted the group to form smaller climbing parties from time to time to ensure that they could capture each photo opportunity fully.

Philipp knows the area like the back of his hand, which is why the amateur nature photographer, whose work we have already had the pleasure of featuring in our blog, took the lead and brought us directly to the water’s edge. Philipp’s girlfriend Sandra, a professional photographer herself, joined the tour group and brought along her camera, giving tips and answering questions about photography while using the opportunity to shoot a few (sometimes clandestine) portraits of the bloggers who were hard at work, seemingly intoxicated from so many photo opportunities.

Once the final photos had been taken, we returned to Horn-Bad Meinberg. By now, the bloggers had become quite attached to the e-bikes – and we certainly were! It’s just wonderful to be able to conquer the hills without too much effort. Thanks, Raleigh!
After we had said goodbye at the Landhotel Haus Weber, where we had spent our second night, we took another look at the bloggers’ posts on Facebook, Instagram and more – and it looks as though they all had a great time!

We’d like to extend our thanks to all our sponsors and the bloggers and photographers who joined us, both for an eventful weekend in excellent company and for the many amazing photos that resulted!

The bloggers’ perspective on the weekend in the Teutoburger Wald

The following were in attendance and will be reporting on their weekends:

Thomas from www.breitengrad66.de

Luisa from www.sunnyside2go.de

Sophia from www.sophias-welt.de

Nicole from www.ausreisserin.de

Sven from www.hiking-europe.eu

Carolin and Jake from www.walkntravel.de

Sandra and Philipp from S&P Photography and www.sandrariegelphotography.de