and protects the largest single area of heathland in Central Europe. Although heaths used to be commonplace in Europe a few hundred years ago, they are much rarer today. Part of Lower Saxony, the nature park's landscape is a mixture of Scotch heather, common heather and juniper, herds of Heidschnucke sheep and old sheepfolds, and farm land and beekeeping huts. The view from the 169-metre Wilseder hill is worth the climb, and not just in August and September when the purple heather is in full bloom. This tranquil, open landscape, dotted with natural wonders great and small, can be enjoyed throughout the year. As well as the heath there are ancient woods and striking trees, mysterious moors and bubbling springs, and heathland streams and gullies. Whether on foot, by bike, on horseback or traditional horse-drawn carriage, you can explore the reserve on your own or in the company of a nature and landscape guide. The local restaurants and inns offer great food and drink made from locally sourced produce. And there's plenty to do for children, too, with a barefoot adventure park, high ropes courses and the Heide Park Resort theme park in Soltau. Or you could take a day trip to the town of Lüneburg on the edge of the reserve or the city of Hamburg just 40km away.