Autumn Impressions: Solling and Weserbergland

Because the weather was quite decent today, we took a trip upstream the river Weser into the Solling and Weserbergland regions approximately 200 kilometers south of Bremen to admire the autumn leaves. Initially, I had debated whether to go along, because I wasn’t feeling too well and spending several hours inside a car isn’t exactly a great idea when you’ve already got a backache. But since the trip had been planned for almost a week now, I went along anyway.

Our autumns aren’t as spectacularly colourful as the Indian summer in New England and Canada. Partly this is due to climatic factors and partly due to the fact that the make-up of the woodlands is different. But we still saw some lovely leaf coloration, as attested by the photos behind the cut:

Weserbergland - View across the Weser

View across the River Weser near Grohnde. Note the campground on the bank, one of many that line the banks of the Weser. If you were to sail along the Weser from Hannoversch-Münden, where it begins, all the way to Bremerhaven, where it flows into the North Sea, some eighty to ninety percent of what you’d see along the way would probably be campground.

Weserbergland - View across the river

Another view across the River Weser near Grohnde with the ever present campgrounds.

Weserbergland - woods

A forest, still largely green, near Grohnde.

View across the Weser near Lippoldsberg

A view across the River Weser with low-hanging willow branches at the village of Lippoldsberg. There is a campground here, but I managed to avoid photographing it.

View along the River Weser at Lippoldsberg

View along the River Weser at Lippoldsberg. The Weser is very narrow and shallow here, compared to what she looks like in Bremen, let alone Bremerhaven. The current is pretty fast, so I wouldn’t attempt swimming across.

Solling road

A stretch of road with hills, fields and woodlands near Amelith in the Solling area.

Autumn leaves in the Solling

Beautifully coloured autumn leaves near the village of Amelith in the Solling.

Autumn leaves

More autumn leaves near the village of Lippoldsberg

The Weser Uplands are of interest to anybody who loves fairy tales. The Brothers Grimm spent much of their lives in Kassel and were professors at the University of Göttingen, both of which are nearby. Hence, many of the classic fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm are linked to actual places in the area, e.g. Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel supposedly took place in actual castles in the area (the Sleeping Beauty castle Sababurg is a hotel these days and I actually spent a night there in the 1980s) and the towns of Hameln (of Pied Piper fame) and Bodenwerder (birthplace of the lying Baron Münchhausen) are all located along the Weser. Of course, most of it is bunk invented by the tourist industry, but it’s still fun. Indeed, there is a tourist trail known as the German Fairy Tale Route connecting the various fairy tale locations in the area. It actually goes all the way up to Bremen, since we are the location of The Bremen Town Musicians. Here’s an account by an American traveling along the fairy tale route from the New York Times.

Now I did not take any photos of Hameln or Bodenwerder nor did we visit the fairy tale castles this time around (and neither did we visit the porcelain manufacture at Fürstenberg or the sluice at Minden), mostly because we’d seen it all a dozen times before, since the Weserbergland region is a popular destination for school trips. But I took some photos with a little bit of fairy tale flavour anyway.

Roadside fungi

Roadside fungi

Roadside fungi

More roadside fungi. You just know that the dwarves and the fairies will come out to play any second now.

At noon we stopped for lunch in the village of Lippoldsberg at this restaurant. I had a whole trout again, this time cooked in a broth with vegetables and spices. The fish was tender, succulent and utterly delicious. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

The village of Lippoldsberg boasts two attractions, a 12th century abbey, one of many stretching along the River Weser, as well as a so-called reaction ferry, a cable ferry across the River Weser.

Lippoldsberg abbey

The tower of the 12th century abbey seen across the roofs of Lippoldsberg

Reaction ferry cable mast

The cable mast of the reaction ferry at Lippoldsberg with the ferry in the background.

Reaction ferry Lippoldsberg

The reaction ferry crossing the Weser at Lippoldsberg. The ferry is pulled along by two cables connected to another cable stretched across the river. The current of the river (surprisingly strong at this point) help. The ferry carries cyclists (a cycling route along the River Weser passes directly through Lippoldsberg), pedestrians and the occasional car.

Lippoldsberg reaction ferry

Another view of the reaction ferry at Lippoldsberg. Note the cables drawing the ferry across the river. On the side of the superstructure, you can see a painting of Little Red Riding Hood, because the ferry is billed as the “fairy tale ferry”, since Lippoldsberg is located on the German Fairy Tale Route.

Unlike most rivers, the Weser does not have a spring. Instead, it is created by the rivers Werra and Fulda flowing together at the town of Hannoversch-Münden. The village of Lippoldsberg is located approx. twenty-five kilometers downstream of Hannoversch-Münden. Nonetheless, there is a monument at Lippoldsberg dedicated to the River Weser being born from the union of Werra and Fulda.

Weser monument at Lippoldsberg

This monument at Lippoldsberg, yet another of the ubiquitous “Findlinge”, celebrates the river Werra and Fulda uniting into the River Weser by quoting lines from a rather creepy song about the “originally German River Weser”.

This monument is just plain odd. For starters, Werra and Fulda don’t unite here to form the River Weser but in Hannoversch-Münden approx. twenty-five kilometers upstream. And while there is a poem about Werra and Fulda uniting to become the Weser, a poem pretty much everybody in Bremen and surroundings has learned at school, I had never heard the song or poem quoted on this monument before. And referring the anything as “urdeutsch” (originally German) is a red flag for potentially problematic nationalist sentiment. Some googling revealed that my suspicions were justified and that the song Urdeutsche Weser dates from the Third Reich. Indeed, there is a crumbling Nazi parade ground once used for big propaganda events between Bückeburg and Grohnde downstream.

So why did some lines from a song dating from the Third Reich show up on a lovingly maintained monument at Lippoldsberg. The date might give a clue. For the monument was dedicated on August 11, 1963, almost to the date two years after the building of the Berlin Wall. And the former border between East and West Germany isn’t all that far away from this location, maybe another hundred kilometers to the East. And indeed, in the 1980s the River Weser suffered badly from pollution due to residues from the Potash mining in East Germany carried into the Weser from the river Werra. So it’s not all that surprising that people living not far from the East-West German border would search for a metaphor for unity in August 1963 and it’s not inconceivable that they might hit upon a song dating from the Nazi era that praises the union of the rivers Werra and Fulda (one of which actually has its spring in East Germany) as a metaphor for German unity in general.

However, what stuns me is that the monument remains so lovingly maintained.

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6 Responses to Autumn Impressions: Solling and Weserbergland

  1. I do love those fall colors and dramatic skies, Cora.

    • Cora says:

      Glad you enjoy the photos. And yes, North German skies (and this area is still considered part of North Germany, though edging towards the middle) tend to be dramatic.

  2. sherwood smith says:

    Gorgeous photos!

  3. Estara says:

    Lovely October pictures. Especially as it’s been a very rainy October down here – AND the fact that we have more pine trees and fewer leafy ones.

    • Cora says:

      So far our October was pretty rainy, too, but we got lucky this Sunday and had nice weather. The nice thing about Weserbergland and Solling is that they have a lot of leafy trees, which make for lovely autumn colours. Harz, which is nearby as well (Harz and Solling are basically separated by the Highway A7), has more pine trees. Though we also drove through a part of the Solling which had mostly pine trees and lots of fern. It looked a bit like Endor of Star Wars fame.

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