Hiking in Osnabrücker Land: Melle was the German Hiking Capital in 2011
Stone Age burial mounds and fossilised dinosaur tracks, the site of the Battle of Varus and a pathway across the entire solar system – there’s truly a world of experiences awaiting hikers in Osnabrücker Land. This is especially true in Melle, the town with two rivers that share one source and which hosted Germany’s Deutscher Wandertag hiking festival in 2011. Melle’s population numbers just 46,000, but its surface area is one quarter larger than that of Niedersachsen’s capital, Hannover. Five moated castles are dotted about the town, which is idyllically situated in a broad valley between the Teutoburger Wald and Wiehengebirge uplands. The Gesmold district of town boasts one of just two river bifurcations to be found in Germany: the Ems tributary Hase splits into two in Melle, giving rise to the Else, a river with no source of its own. The Else flows towards the Weser, in the opposite direction to the Hase. In a nutshell: the German hiking capital of 2011 is a remarkable place and also a good starting point for hikers as there are roughly 100 trails leading across Osnabrücker Land towards countless fascinating destinations.
One of the loveliest routes for nature lovers begins at the observation tower on top of the 220-metre Beutling hill. The Ahornweg route passes through shady deciduous woodlands along the hills of the Wiehengebirge and Teutoburger Wald uplands. The most attractive stop along the way in late summer is Hagen, near Teutoburger Wald, with its orchards. That’s when the sweet cherries on its more than 3000 trees are ripe – and visitors are encouraged to sample them.
DiVA Walk: from Dinosaurs to the Scene of the Battle of Varus
The stars of the DiVa walk a far cry from cherries! The DiVa Walk takes you all the way from the dinosaurs to the scene of the Battle of Varus. The prehistoric lizards left their footprints in the sand here, near Bad Essen, and they are still preserved today, as fossils, and have become a widely known attraction. The theme of the Kalkriese Museum and Park is the Battle of Varus fought by the Romans and the Teutons. Between the two, the trail covers gentle slopes and passes through ancient, small towns on its way to palaces and castles – and also to a burial mound.
The Hünenweg trail links another 4000 such ancient megalithic burial mounds. It begins in Osnabrück and ends after 208 kilometres in Papenburg, in the Emsland region. Along the way, it crosses the Wiehengebirge uplands, heathlands and mountain landscapes and leads again and again to mystic megalithic tombs.
Mühlenweg Through Osnabrücker Land
There’s nothing mysterious at all about the sights to be seen along the Mühlenweg mill route. Quite the opposite, in fact: there are eleven technical monuments to be viewed, some of them still fully functioning and in regular operation. What’s more, at every mill there’s something different to be discovered or enjoyed: freshly baked mill bread in Nette, a cosy place to stop for a bite to eat on the museum island in the millpond at Venne. And as visitors are often surprised to discover, the Sommer mill is not a museum at all, but a working saw-mill.
The members of the Wandervereins Wiehengebirgsverband Weser-Ems regional hiking association presented a further 90 hiking trails at the 111th Deutscher Wandertag 2011 festival in Melle. One of the shortest takes you all the way from the sun to Pluto – well, models of them, anyway: the path leading up to Oldendorfer Berg is dotted with models of the planets of our solar system spaced to scale with the real things.