Trip report LF4/R1/Weser (Holland-Germany)
Just a few days before
the take off for a week long bike trip through
Germany, a small disaster took place. My old and
faithful Giant Expedition touring bike deceased!
The (rear) fork end was broken, and this couldn't
be fixed anymore. Luckily I could borrow my
brother's city bike, a Giant Tourer. The Tourer
is the smaller brother of the Expedition: same
frame, but assembled with cheaper quality
components. With my brothers permission, I
started to disassemble my Expedition in order to
transform his Giant Tourer into a high quality
touring bike, suitable long distance trips with
loaded gear. After a weekend hard labor it was
all fixed, only the beautiful red frame reminded
me it was not my old Expedition I was riding on,
but my brothers Tourer.
With my reincarnated touring bike I head off
with fully loaded gear over the bike path along
the Valleikanaal. After picking up Yvonne, who's
joining me on this trip, our first goal is to
follow Landelijke Fietsroute (LF) 4.
This is a sign posted bicycle route through the
Middle of the Netherlands. The LF4 ends at the
border and continues in Germany as Radweg 1 (R1).
The R1 is a 275 km long sign posted route,
starting at the Dutch border and ending in Höxter
on the Weser river (roughly between Hannover and
Kassel). After the hilly region of the National
park Veluwezoom we have dinner in Brummen.
Unfortunately the ferry across the IJssel river
doesn't run anymore after 8 pm, so we've to cycle
a small detour via the bridge near Zutphen. Near
Warnsveld we find a good and cheap SVR campsite
at a farm.
(109 km, avg. 16 km/hr)
The next stage leads us over rolling hills and
farmland around Lochem, reminding me of cycling
in another country instead of our flat low lands.
Soon after a lunch break and shopping stop in
Borculo the LF4 ends at the border. We're heading
further east, following the R1 over small traffic
free country roads, often bumpy and unpaved. The
mushroom shaped signposts along the route are
hardly visible. We're lucky to have the official
route description with high detailed topo maps (1:50,000
scale) otherwise it would be likely to miss a
sign and get completely lost here.
Just past Darfeld, 60 km after the border, we
pitch our tents in a small forest. We've to wait
until sunset to camp, because free camping isn't
allowed here in Germany. Along the R1 are hardly
any official campgrounds though. It seems that
most German cyclists who follow the R1 are
staying in hotels or pensions.
The thought of arriving early in Münster,
with probably internet accessible computers,
gives us (E-mail junkies) wings. Münster is a
large college town with nice bike lanes and a
very scenic historical inner city. The library of
the university is located in the city center. And
yes, we're lucky to find some computers with
internet access! It takes a while sending and
checking our E-mail and it's already late in the
afternoon as we're heading east out of Münster.
The landscape east of Münster is again flat,
we're cycling in the valley of the river Ems. Due
to a strong tail wind we've managed to cycle 90
kilometers past Münster. Around dusk we eat a
small pizza in Verl. It's getting dark around 10
pm and we still have to find a campsite somewhere
in a dark forest...
Verl-Schloss Holte Stukenbrock-Detmold-Externsteine-Marienmünster-Höxter
The next morning our unofficial campground
wasn't that bad after all. At least we've not
been caught and it has been very quiet. The last
90 km until the end of the R1 follows the most
interesting and scenic part of the route. The
hilly and heavily forested Teutoburger Wald with
it's 700 m high peaks means for us flatlanders
almost mountainous terrain.
We meet a whole lot more cyclists than we've
seen the days before. It turns out to be a
holiday for the catholic state of Nordrhein
Westfalen (Fronleichnam, the Feast of Corpus
Christi (the Body of Christ). It is a Catholic
feast to celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist (the
bread and wine becoming the body and blood of
Around Detmold the R1 is climbing over the
hills of the Teutoburgerwald, some steep nasty
climbs. The Externsteinen, a 35 m. high rock
formation, is a popular tourist destination.
Today is a holiday so it's very crowded. For
world travellers like us the stones aren't that
impressive, but we've had a nice walk anyway. We
leave the mountains behind us and with a quick
descent we enter Höxter, the end of the R1.
Along the borders of the Weser river there are
plenty of campgrounds. After camping in the
forests it's now time to take a shower.
Westfalica (115 km)
The last day we're following another sign
posted bike trail, the R99 along the Weser river.
It promised to be a very relaxing day, sunny and
dry, a flat bike lane down the river... It
surprises us to see lots and lots of bicyclists
with loaded gear along this river. It seems all
the bicycle tourists of Germany are united on the
As soon as a few racing bikes are passing by,
Yvonne starts chasing them on her loaded bike. A
few times not without success. I'm impressed,
usually she's very slow starter, but at this
early hour she's very active.
Near Bodenwerder we're slowing down a bit. We're
now entering the region where I've done some
field research in the past during my college
years in Physical Geography. Bodenwerder is also
the birthplace of Baron von Mönchhausen (a
famous fairy tale character). A few kilometers
down the river we visit the scenic inner city of
Hameln, famous of the fairy tale of the Rat
North of Hameln the hills get lower and lower.
Yvonne meets the so called "Man with the
Hammer" (means she got tired and lost her
energy). This proves she's just a person of flesh
and blood and not a machine after all.
Due to lots of mosquitoes and campgrounds full of
noisy campers we finally decide not to camp at
one of the official campgrounds along the river.
Instead we find a nice and quiet place in the
woods near Porta Westfalica.
Porta Westfalica-Kaiser Wilhelm Denkmal-Bad
Oeynhausen 27 km (train to Rheine-Meppen) Meppen-Emmen
The 2 km long climb to the top of
Wittekindsberg is a nice end of our trip. from
the top we enjoy a lovely view on the valley of
the Weser. From Porta Westfalica, the Weser
leaves the hilly region of Weserbergland and
meanders through the flat plains of Northern
At the train station of Bad Oeynhausen we buy
a so called Schönes
Wochenende ticket. For 35 DM you're able to
catch a train throughout whole Germany during the
whole weekend. Plus: you can bring a maximum of
four people with you who 're traveling on that
same ticket as well! The only restrictions are
that you can only use it on regional and city
bounded trains (not valid on international or D-trains).
(see also )
For 6 DM we take our bikes with us. Most
trains have special wagons for bicycles. Very
convenient, though sometimes hard to get access
to with it's small doors and an entry of 1 m
above the platform. Luckily there are always
people (conductor, other cyclists) who will help
you with carrying the bikes into the wagon.
From Bad Oeynhausen we take a train to Rheine
and from Rheine to Meppen, near the Dutch border.
From there it's a short ride to Emmen. Here our
ways separate, Yvonne catches another train to
Heerenveen and I've to cycle only a short ride to
my mother's place near Emmen, where I end this 6
day trip after 638 km.