Hiking from Leopoldstal to Detmold and Externsteine and Hermannsdenkmal!
June 3, 2023
Maybe I’m gonna start off with something personal: Last week, Jana, who was supposed to cycle with me in the Czech Republic this summer, fell off her bike last week and broke her leg. Now, she will stay in Hamburg for at least one month (where her parents live and can take care of her), and it looks like she won’t be able to do any sports for something like half a year. This means my summer plan fell apart, especially the one that I already posted a few weeks ago. Let me know if you have other plans.
The north of NRW is mostly flat. That starts right above the river Ruhr and actually hardly any hills can be seen up to the end of Germany. One exception to this is this area called Teutoburgerwald (Teutoburg Forest), which goes somewhere around Altenbeken to Bielefeld and farther. It looks a bit weird on the map, because it almost looks like some sort of rampart. Apparently this peculiarity has been known for some time, and there are also some historical traces. Today, we decided to hike from Leopoldstad to Detmold to see two of the famous sites: Externsteine and Hermannsdenkmal.
As Leopoldstal was fairly far away, we also had to start the day fairly early: from Düsseldorf we took a train some time before 8am. For Kartik and Cláudia, who were coming from Cologne, it must have been even earlier. Today, I took a Greek book with me, that I bought in my last vacation in Greece. At that time, I bought it only in my desperate attempt to make locals speak Greek with me by implicitly showing them with my book that I understand Greek. However, for having once been a bookworm myself, I actually started enjoying reading the books that I bought there. And ever since it’s my best friend wherever I go. Especially the ones I bought are for adolescents, and therefore written in an everyday language which I understand well. And so, the train journey that took more than 3h felt a lot shorter. Well, I was so absorbed by the book that I realized that I left my hat on the train only after I left the train.
This area is quite different from the Ruhr area in terms of railway network. There are very few lines and the train stations are quite far away from each other. Leopoldstal was only 3 stops away from Herford, but there were more than 40 km of distance. Anyway I’m glad that there’s a station in the first place that allows to access the Teutoburgerwald.
There was hardly anyone at the train station. Not so surprisingly we could reach the forest within minutes. There were some up and down, but it was mostly easily accessible. The nature here is a lot more like in the Sauerland, and it was also obvious that it suffered from the drought of a few years ago here as well. The picture above is more or less what we saw the whole day.
There’s this one trail called Hermannsweg that goes through the Teutoburg Forest, which we were essentially following the whole day (not necessarily all the time though). It was a very well organized path, with nor surprise along the way at all. For talking with other people it was very practical, but if you are walking there alone, you might find it a bit boring.
Since the hike was fairly long, we had our first break at Externsteine. It was impressive to see the transition from the forest to the Externsteine area in terms of the number of people, as it almost looked like we arrived in a totally different world. We could enter the facility for free last time, because it was off season. This time there were a lot of people, and it wasn’t free. So while some people went on top of those stones, I stayed below and had my lunch.
But hey this area is definitely not quite as bad as in the Sauerland, but I was impressed that there were so many dead areas. Since it was in 2017 that we were there last time, this landscape was obviously totally different at that time. It’s just so mind boggling to witness this transition.
We had another break somewhere on the way. I had only a bottle of water, so I asked some local people whether I can get some tap water. Not only they gave me tap water, they brought two bottles of mineral water. Germany is really not nearly as bad as everyone says :).
And obviously we had our second break at Hermannsdenkmal. I forgot to take a photo XD. Again, there were so many people there. What a tourist attraction. On the other hand, I couldn’t see the Neo Nazis throughout the whole day. I was somewhat looking forward to seeing them. It’s a pity they didn’t appear.
We got ice cream in Detmold and took a train to go back to Düsseldorf, without actually seeing the city of Detmold. It’s actually a really beautiful place, so you should take a look if you happen to be there.
On the way back to Düsseldorf. I finished reading the book in Greek. My very first book in Greek. And frankly that might have been the greatest moment of the day (the hike was definitely great, but the fact that I managed to finish reading this book was just overwhelmingly great!).