Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Across the Kiel canal and the Elbe

The dawn chorus was incredibly loud, louder even than the evening chorus of the night before which had seemed to continue long after dark.

Sheep on the dyke

The next day was a Saturday and I followed the dyke for a while, accompanied by avocets, godwits, redshanks and greenshanks, swifts and swallows and starlings.

Cow on the dyke
I turned inland to Busum across a fenny landscape and found a town in full-on seaside holiday mode.  I escaped and made my way across flat farmland, never far from the dyke, and finally arrived in Brunsbüttel, at the junction of the Elbe and the Kiel canal. The tiny campsite had a small kitchen and provided a free sweet with the paperwork, but once again, no toilet paper.  It turned out the whole town closed down at 3.30 on Saturday, supermarkets included.

Ship entering the Kiel canal
Next day I crossed the Kiel canal on the free ferry and followed the banks of the Elbe southwards towards Glückstadt where I took another ferry across the river.

The mouth of the Elbe

There were long queues of cars on a sunny Sunday morning, but I glided past them, as did numerous motorcycles, provoking an Englishman almost to apoplexy.  He clearly regarded bikers as his mortal enemies, as he made clear to his wife, and it did seem a little unfair to all those waiting motorists.  There were lines of waiting cars on the other side too, and I was glad to cycle off into a changed landscape of fields and orchards and then, eventually, back to the coast. 

A walker stopped to chat and told me that the old lighthouse was open to the public that day so I detoured a little and climbed to the top where I gazed out over the vast panorama of the Elbe estuary and the busy shipping lanes beyond.

The old lighthouse...
...and the new one.

The weather was now much warmer and after eating lunch in the shade at the foot of the lighthouse and chatting to a couple of cyclists I carried on to the resort of Otterndorf which I reached just ahead of a thunderstorm.  In fact, I was eating delicious cod and chips on the sea-front as the first drops of rain fell. The campsite here was one of the strangest I've stayed on, a purpose built place where the office was behind the massive front door of an imposing white house.  The showers were good though, housed in a subterranean region below the building.  I was woken in the morning by the sound of hedge trimmers demolishing the privacy hedge of my pitch and I cycled on along the dyke towards Bremerhaven.

Cuxhaven was a nice old town with a busy centre and a very busy industrial area.  Cars are exported from here, and thousands glittered under the hot sun.  Fish arrive here too, and there was a long row of fish restaurants housed in industrial units as I cycled into town. At lunchtime I met a German couple, Ria and Oliver, who had just reached the end of their bike ride around the world. They'd been travelling for two years and were winding down with a detour through northern Germany before heading back to life in Berlin. They recommended a visit to the Klimahaus in Bremerhaven, and I made plans to go there the following day.

Ria and Oliver
Later that afternoon I made a detour through the small town of Dorum, mainly because I saw signs to a dyke museum.  I found it, half-hidden behind a school, and it was terrific, although the young man who was in charge was very anxious for me because all the information was in German. There were tools and maps and models though, which gave a great impression of how the dyke was built, and of the process of reclaiming the land. The young man also told me where the post office was (in the supermarket, of course), and then I cycled on to camp on a vast site just north of the container port at Bremerhaven.
Map in the dyke museum
Tent, bike and container port

Maps are here:  Brunsbüttel; Otternsdorf; Wremen

Ria and Oliver Kreuzahler's website is www.drehmomente.com.de

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