A row of historical half-timbered buildings can be seen towering over the harbour basin in Stade on a sunny day. On the left is a bridge to the quayside from which the picture is being taken. To the right of this, a wide set of steps leads down to the water. Anchored in the harbour basin is an small old wooden sailboat. The half-timbered buildings are four to five storeys high and packed closely together. They are almost all made of red bricks.
Hanseatic harbour in Stade ©ADFC - DpR

Monks' Trail – in the footsteps of missionaries

Follow the route of the pilgrims and journey back in time – the Monks' Trail combines ecclesiastical history in Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein with sprawling marshland and the scenery of the Holsteinische Schweiz and passes more than 100 churches.

Cycling is said to be a way of finding inner peace. This is particularly true of the Monks' Trail, where churches and abbeys provide plenty of opportunities for contemplation – such as Cismar Abbey or St. James' Church in Bornhöved, which is over 780 years old.

The orchard of north-west Germany

Starting out from St. Peter's Cathedral in Bremen, the route crosses the Bürgerpark to the Wümme marshlands. From there it continues along level terrain to Zeven and to Braken Forest. From this point, the landscape is dominated by fruit trees and historical half-timbered buildings. This is the start of the Altes Land region, Germany's largest fruit-growing area, which extends almost to the outskirts of Stade. It is well worth walking through the historical lanes of Stade to the old harbour and the moat. After crossing the Elbe in Wischhafen, the Monks' Trail continues from Glückstadt towards Kellinghusen.

Pretty churches and historical harbours

The route passes churches from many different periods – from small stone churches from the 11th century to richly decorated baroque churches – and runs through fascinating towns such as Stade, Bad Segeberg and Eutin. In Schleswig-Holstein the route crosses the Barker Heide conservation area and the Trappenkamp adventure forest. A little further on, Nütschau Abbey is well worth a visit. The first hills herald the start of the Holsteinische Schweiz region. Here you can go swimming in the nearby Baltic Sea or enjoy a leisurely stroll around the old harbour towns of Neustadt in Holstein or Heiligenhafen. The tour comes to an end in Puttgarden on Fehmarn Island – or you can continue to Rødby or Roskilde in Denmark, if you prefer.

Terrain: This level route has only a few gentle inclines and generally follows good country roads or cycle paths and farm tracks (some alongside roads, some separate). You should expect traffic on this route.

Scenery: The route passes through marshes, wetlands and forests as well as the Altes Land and Holsteinische Schweiz regions. The route also includes long stretches of coastline and the island of Fehmarn.

At a glance: Monks' Trail

  • Length: 530 km
  • Starts: Bremen
  • Ends: Puttgarden on Fehmarn Island
  • Travel (nearest cities to start-| end):
    Oldenburg 45 km | Hamburg 130 km
    Oldenburg (in Holstein) 36 km | Lübeck 90 km
  • About the route: mainly flat terrain, hilly in places

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