Uelzen to Hermannsburg

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The uncompromising motto on Great Cross Church, Hermannsburg, which belongs to the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church.

A very unexciting ride – just extremes of what I have already experienced: sandy paths that were only just rideable and surfaced cycle paths that stayed too close to roads. The highlight was the best Stachelbeer Baiser Torte of the whole holiday in a very twee Dorfcafé in Hösseringen.

Hermannsburg is one of those foreign places that I can’t get an English angle on. It’s in a touristy area (the Lüneburger Heide) so has a number of hotels, including one four-star. It has cafés and inns, a small discount supermarket, a couple of wool and fabric shops, a couple of banks, a nail bar, a modern town hall and an enormous Rossmann – all within easy walking distance. In English terms, that would make it a largish place. But it doesn’t seem so. It feels more like a village. A look at the map tells me that it stretches away in all directions; it’s probably the green area around the river and the dispersed nature of the housing that confuses me.

Even small German settlements have good communal facilities. In Britain having a swimming pool, a picnic area by the river, cycle paths or good signage seems to be a matter of luck. As for maintenance . . . pah! Hermannsburg has a Waldbad, sports facilities and a volunteer fire service. It also has the most elaborate bird and bug houses that I have ever seen. The latter is definitely up to full occupancy rates.

One thing Hermannsburg does lack are obvious signs of vandalism. No broken saplings, no burnt-out rubbish bins, no broken fence palings. The only damage I noticed were a couple of boarded-up ground-floor windows in the church.

Anyway, Hermannsburg’s claim to fame is that it is the 19th-century home of the Hermannsburg Mission, founded by Louis Harms. Apparently it still operates in a few places overseas.

Have I inadvertently made Hermannsburg sound more interesting than it really is?

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