Salzwedel to Wittenberge

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Elbe flood plain near Wahrenberg

Another lovely day’s cycling around the well-signposted back of beyond (sorry, Altmark) to the green-grey meadows of the Elbe.

I have discovered that the unknown birds I saw in the Drömling were shrikes and that the unknown architectural style is norddeutsche Backsteingotik. I am also going to have to review my notion that flooded opencast mines look unnatural in a flat landscape, having now seen the Arendsee, a totally natural and very deep rift lake in a flat landscape.

The best sight of the day was two cranes picking over a field where the hay had been cut. Even at a distance they looked enormous. They made a noise like a smoke alarm going off when they saw me.

Also seen were a deer and several storks in a field near Wahrenberg – described in the Radweg book as das storchenreichste Dorf Sachsen-Anhalts. Through binoculars, it really does look as if they have a traffic cone stuck on their bills.

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Wittenberge on the river Elbe is a bit of a return to industrial desolation, although it has been spruced up since I was last here 12 years ago. It was an big port in its day, with a Singer sewing machine factory (tremendous clock tower) and an oil factory, which has now been turned into a hotel and event complex. I also discovered that Walter Gropius designed a large housing estate for the Eigene Scholle company in 1914 on the outskirts of town, so off I pedalled after dinner. It’s basically garden city suburbia, albeit with minimal decoration. I could happily live there. Not a flat roof in sight. It’s hard to know what is original since the estate has no conservation status, but it was a pleasant ride round.

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