Flat scenery and not a lot to do? Nothing could be further from the truth! East Friesland offers maritime charm, pretty harbour towns, leafy gardens and grand palaces. There are plenty of reasons to explore Germany's north-west.
The East Friesland Tour in Lower Saxony is actually four different tours, each with its own focus. Pirates and Chieftains is a journey back in time to an era of swashbuckling buccaneers and the settlement of East Friesland, the Palaces and Gardens tour visits various parks in the Ammerland region, while the Old and New Harbours tour gives a flavour of Nordic romanticism, taking in traditional port towns such as Carolinensiel and Hooksiel.
A surprise around every corner
The final tour, Water and Open Spaces, explores the countryside to the east of the Dollart, a large inlet on the Ems estuary. It criss-crosses the fens, following the drainage canals with the traditional white bascule bridges that are typical of the region. The scenery is also dotted with windmills and Gulfhöfe, timber-framed farmhouses from the 16th and 17th centuries that housed both the farmer's living quarters and the animal stalls under one roof. Germany's narrowest road bridge crosses the Leda river, while the Pünte über die Jümme is the oldest hand-operated ferry in northern Europe. Dating back to 1562, it is hauled along on cables and can carry up to three cars and 30 passengers. It is well worth a visit – not least because of the friendly country inn next door. Other places of interest include the museum harbour and old quarter of Leer, the little fishing village of Ditzum, the fen and maritime museum in Rhauderfehn and the Ems flood barrier at Gandersum, an impressive 476-metre-long structure that protects the region and its people from storm tides. Tip: Tours of the flood barrier are available, but please book in advance!
Terrain: Predominantly flat tarmac trails, with some sections on cobbles, gravel or sand. The routes are signposted with compass rose logos in various colours.
Scenery: The region is characterised by fens, waterways and sandy heathland, plus the North Sea coast. There are also small villages, towns, and river and sea ports.
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