Several weeks of rainy cold weather are behind us. Finally, I must say – the second drought summer has lasted long enough and even the rain showers of the last few days have only added a fraction of the soil moisture.
But with the sun and the higher temperatures now in the second half of the week, I am pulled out again. The best thing to do is to experience something real – off to the Uckermark!
table of content for Schorfheide – Uckermark region
- Information for foreign readers and strangers
- Modelled by the ice age – the Uckermark
- Totally hip! …. Gerswalde
- Almost a Metropolis … Angermünde
- Traveltips for the Uckermark
- Current Uckermark weather
- Travel options by train and bike
- Accomodation in the Uckermark
- Food.. where there’s something special
- Uckermark Wellness
- Hiking maps and travel guides
Information for strangers and foreign readers:
The Uckermark and the biosphere reserve Schorfheide – Chorin are located in East Germany north of Berlin. If you are fed up with the big city juggernaut and want to experience pure nature, then the Schorfheide and Uckermark region is a worthwhile destination.
For example, Angermünde can be reached by local train from the B – main station or B-Gesundbrunnen with the RE3 in one hour. Eberswalde as the southernmost entrance to the Schorfheide even faster.
The Heidekrautbahn goes from Berlin – Karow (with connection from B – Gesundbrunnen) to Groß Schönebeck into the western Schorfheide.
In the Schorfheide heathland
Groß Schönebeck can be reached with the „Heidekrautbahn“ – a good starting point to the biosphere reserve „Schorfheide – Chorin“. The most beautiful way to explore this landscape with – for German standards – huge forest areas and ice-age shaped hill-valley-waterhole-relief is by bike. On foot you can spend weeks there. By car or train you can get there easily, but you can only really immerse yourself by foot or by bike. Because for the size of the area, there are relatively few roads, and that is good. An alternative route would be to take the RE3 to Biesenthal, from where paths like the Usedom long-distance cycle path lead to the destination area.
Wild horses in Liebenthal
From Groß Schönebeck, a detour brings you to Liebenthal (belongs to Liebenwalde), where quiet forest paths lead by bike. Your destination is the Liebenthal wild horse enclosure. A herd of Przewalski’s horses lives on a large meadow area with only the least possible human influence, but under scientific observation. Because here the steppe animals are closely followed while grazing and the connection between biting and the development of rare plant species is examined.
Endangered domestic animal breeds
However, the facility is still home – on other areas – to a number of endangered domestic animal breeds. About 90 species are estimated to be threatened with extinction in Germany and Europe, among them the donkey as well as the Zackel sheep, the skudde or various breeds of pigs.
This is because the industrial age has brought with it standardisation in this area, in which a large number of breeds with different characteristics (considered particularly positive in earlier times) have fallen out of use. So Skudden also bite harder herbs and prickly bushes, but the meat yield is very low and the wool counts more as „hazardous waste“ than as raw material anyway. Similar to the Mangalitza wool pig – pigs are now kept in highly technical industrial facilities and not semi-wild outdoors. But who knows what the gene pool of all these species is still useful for in times of climate change and changes in the ecosystems? In Liebenthal, at least some of the endangered domestic animal breeds will be preserved.
The animal world at a glance – Wildpark Schorfheide
Back to Groß Schönebeck. Here, anyone who finds sitting and observing in the wild too tiring can get a quick overview of the region’s animal world in the past and present in the „Schorfheide Wildlife Park„. From fallow deer and red deer to wild boars and wolves, everything that should live in the Schorfheide at present is available. And with European bison and Heckkrind – a „copy“ breeding back to the aurochs as the forefather of today’s domestic cattle – representatives of the past are also present.
In the wooded area in front of the game park, everyone can test their courage and demonstrate agility and dexterity on the various sections of a high-wire climbing course.
Various private pensions offer accommodation in Groß Schönebeck. Hotels in Groß Dölln provide more luxury accommodation. The „Schorfheide Conservation Area“ already enjoyed “ other forms“ of protection in GDR times – it was mostly a state hunting area and in Groß Dölln was the „hunting lodge“ of the GDR government. In addition, one of the most important military airports of the Soviet Army was located not far away in the middle of the forest, which had only been massively expanded again at the end of the 1980s. The surrounding area was, of course, a strictly secured restricted area. This was often very positive for nature, as an undisturbed natural development could take place away from the military installations.
Modelled by the ice age – the Uckermark
Once cycled northwards through the large forest areas, the forestation in the Uckermark is becoming increasingly looser. More and more agricultural land is coming into view here, partly as fields, but often also as pastures. At the same time, the relief is becoming more and more varied – the last ice age has left its mark in the form of moraine trains, hollows in which marshes often lie, small ponds formed by „dead ice blocks“ that were once left lying and thawed on site, and larger channel lakes. All this makes the landscape extremely varied. The view is further enriched by erratic blocks, which are smaller and larger in many places or were used in the typical fieldstone buildings of the villages, as well as flowering dry sites on the „sandbumps“, which give the landscape an unmistakable character, especially in August and late summer.
And it is precisely through the use of local materials such as field stones and wood that the sometimes tiny settlements and villages fit into this landscape – scattered in the valley gutters or piled up with a few farmsteads on the banks of a lake. Although the region gives a contemplative but rather unproductive impression, there are always individual manor houses, castles (or their ruins) and estates that bear witness to some wealth.
Their barns, made of hewn field stones and often supplemented with red brick masonry on the upper floor, stand in contrast to the rather crouched half-timbered or stone houses of the villages with their pretty but small churches.
Totally hip! … Gerswalde
The little village of Gerswalde in the north of the Schorfheide has in recent years recovered from the sleepiness of the GDR era and has become a place of longing for many a city refugee. It probably began with the Hägers on the Permaculture Farm and the network that developed around Johanna and Christoph. Artists followed, bought dilapidated, cheap plots of land and set up gallery cafés in the seclusion, a fish smokehouse „Glut und Späne“ was founded as a start-up and the „Freie Scholle“ (free acre) began to work the areas of the old castle garden to grow organic vegetables from their own village.
A filmmaker settled down, documented the development in a multi-part (part-time) dropout soap and thus contributed to the hype of the small town. Two Japanese women rented the greenhouse of the castle nursery and opened the Japanese tea room „Zum Löwen„. Where two decades ago tourists only occasionally came to see the old, half-decayed moated castle, now stress-ridden city dwellers meet every week to get off the constant input of the week between free-range chickens and cow pastures or to spin out new projects.
Almost a metropolis… Angermünde
On the eastern edge of the Schorfheide lies the former district town of Angermünde. With several brick churches and colourful two-storey houses in the attractively renovated old town, it radiates the charm of a country metropolis in the middle of the tranquil idyll of the Uckermark.
Various hotels invite you to stay, gastronomy from the simple pizzeria to the upscale „Grambauers Kalit“ or the exotic „Taj Mahal“ offers peaceful culinary delights, and the bronze fountains on the market let the imagination wander into worlds of legends and fairy tales, which find even more nourishment on misty November days in the lake-rich surroundings.
If you are lucky (or plan well 😉 ) and visit the city on the right day, you can spend the evening not only in the restaurant or on a walk along the Münde lake but also at a concert in one of the churches.
At the market, a tourist information office will give you information in a small brick half-timbered house. Behind it, there are bicycle cages for safe parking of your bike and luggage. (Use your own lock or possibly at the information desk?)
Trip to the Uckermark river Oder Valley
Further east of Angermünde, already almost on the river Oder (and thus at the entrance to the Oder cycle path) you will find the little village of Stolpe. The landscape is characterised by the many notched slopes that drop into the Oder valley. On one of these slopes the „Grützpott“, a castle tower from the 12th century, is enthroned. (Grützpott engl.: Groats pot)
The interior of the building houses a small exhibition on the history of the region. From the platform on top of the tower there is a good panoramic view over the Oder valley to the Polish side. The „basement“ of the tower can be reached from outside through a long corridor and is sunk deep into the Oder slope. The tower hall is one of the special venues for the Uckermark Film Festival.
Directly on the Hohensaaten-Friedrichsthaler waterway – a partly artificial side arm of the Oder – you can take a breather or have your bike repaired on the premises of an old Stolper GDR concrete factory in the bicycle café „Fuchs und Hase“ (‚Fox and Rabbit‘, conterminous with the English ‚chestnut and hare‘). There the operators of the start-up serve simple but tasty meals, which are composed of products of other small companies of the region: Salads from Knigges cultures, raw milk – cheese from the „Proud Cow“, meat from water buffalos from the Oder floodplains, ice cream and cakes from our own production Open from April to September Th-Mo, daily in the high season. Attached is a bicycle repair shop and bicycle rental to explore the Oder cycle path and the region.
Grumsin – Beech forest as world – natural heritage
In the other direction (west) from Angermünde you can reach the hamlet Altkünkendorf (9km). Here is the northern contact point of the world natural heritage – beech forest „Grumsin“. Next to the church there is a small information centre in the former municipal administration, which serves as a meeting point for guided Grumsin hikes. The rangers of the Brandenburg Nature Guard and the staff of the NABU information centre Blumberger Mühle take turns in accompanying the hikes. It is also possible to make your own hikes on various marked trails – it is important to note that a „core zone“ must not be entered, as the development of beech forests, which is largely uninfluenced by humans, is researched in the World Heritage Site. For mushroom seekers there are plenty of other alternatives in the Schorfheide!
Those who would like to stay in Altkünkendorf right away will find their place in a well-kept manor house. Groups can register (in good time in advance) at the Schullandheim. Friends of high-percentage pleasures will be able to warm up for the Grumsiner distillery. There, high-quality liqueurs and schnapps are distilled from fruits of the region according to old recipes. A guided tour of the distillery followed by a tasting is definitely an experience. The mysterious cellar with old and newer barrels provides an atmospheric ambience for a witty Grumsiner drink.
Mielkes hunting lodge at the Wolletz lake
On the other side of Lake Wolletz lies the village of the same name. Until 1989 this was more or less a restricted zone of the GDR secret service „state security“ (Stasi). In concrete terms, Stasi Minister Mielke had confiscated his personal hunting lodge and the surrounding forests as his personal hunting ground. Today Wolletz has a rehab clinic and beautiful paths along the lakeside, over which you can walk to the lido Angermünde or along the river Welse to the Blumberg fish ponds.
The former Konsum (in the GDR small and larger „supermarkets“ of the consumer cooperatives) invites today as „Kaffee Konsum“ to rest. For lunch, there is mainly game from the region, organic Angus beef from the nearby organic farm Kerkow and for vegetarians an organic burger with grilled cheese from the Uckermärker cheese dairy Wolters. The shopping hall character with large shop windows is softened by wooden café chairs, whose design may have originated in the 1920s, so that the break in consumption is very relaxing.
The Usedom long-distance cycle path runs through Wolletz, which attracts many visitors in the high season. This continues here for about 2 km in an easterly direction towards the fish ponds, and then turns sharply northwards between the ponds.
Nature experiences at the Blumberger Mühle
But another 2 km straight ahead is definitely worth a detour, because the Blumberger Mühle is the visitor information centre of the biosphere reserve Schorfheide-Chorin. It is operated by NABU (german organization for nature conservation), but also houses a base of the (state) nature guard.
An „indoor“ exhibition provides information about beech forest and moorland landscapes, but more interesting is the outdoor area, which reflects the character of the Uckermark nature between dry grassland and pond landscapes. If you arrive in the morning before the big rush of visitors or in the evening and keep quiet, you will discover many an animal inhabitant from beavers to kingfishers. A highlight is a facility with the European swamp turtle, which is actually still occasionally found in the region. These sunbathe in spring, especially in the morning on dry tree trunks and are easy to observe. They share the enclosure with toads, muskrats and grass snakes, the latter can often be seen in early summer in large numbers in different age stages in and around the pond.
In the pond landscape, with a bit of luck, at least two of the three species of eagles native to this area can be observed – white-tailed eagles often sit on high trees, but sometimes also on large stones in the pond, and watch the wild geese go about their business. Osprey, which with their distinctive „face mask“ already look like pirates, also go hunting in the fish ponds. They have built their nests on nearby high-voltage power pylons – the power companies attach extra platforms at the highest points for this purpose. The third eagle, the extremely rare and endangered Lesser Spotted Eagle, is more likely to be seen in the wetland areas further north. A few years ago, the Sernitz lowlands were dredged up and structured to create more wet meadow habitat and give the many profiteers of this ecosystem a better chance of survival.
No more castle, but the Lenné park
If you continue on the cycle path to the north (Prenzlau), the little village of Görlsdorf comes right after the Blumberg fish ponds. There you will find the Lenné – Park in a lowland of Welse river, which was created by the famous landscape gardener. Unfortunately, the small manor belonging to it was destroyed at the end of the war, but the park has been partly repaired since the beginning of the new century. Today, some of the paths and thus the basic structures of the park can be used again, but a large part is an exciting overgrown landscape with fragments of old design elements.
From Görlsdorf the Usedom cycle path leads northwards to Peetzig. At the lake Peetzigsee there is a nice bathing area for a quick cool down in between. Then it continues uphill – downhill through the open moraine landscape.
Travel tips for the Uckermark
Current Uckermark weather
The next airport to Uckermark and Schorfheide region is Berlin – Brandenburg (BER). There you get rental cars or train service by Brandenburg transport association VBB.
Travel options by train and bike
From Angermünde, there are several ways of getting on the train* to either speed up your journey or to end the cycling tour here. In any case, the Usedom Cycle Route to Prenzlau in the Uckermark always follows the RE3 route. After Peetzig, Wilmersdorf near Angermünde, Seehausen, Warnitz (Uckermark) and Prenzlau are suitable stops for getting on the train. In their standard configuration, the RE3 have double-decker coaches with bicycle compartments, one car having a completely cleared lower level for bicycles, trailers and children’s cars (folding seats on one side only). Unfortunately, during the high season the capacity is still hardly sufficient during the day, especially as the train currently runs every 2 hours to the Baltic Sea (Usedom and Stralsund/Rügen), thus serving several popular cycling regions at once.
VBB-Ticket One Ticket for the whole region
If you only want to explore part of the region around Angermünde on foot, you can take the train to Angermünde. Some IC and ICE trains even stop on the way to Greifswald and Stralsund. The UVG „beaver bus“ stops at the station forecourt and travels on ring routes to Blumberger Mühle, Görlsdorf, Wolletz and Altkünkendorf (and vice versa!). Other local destinations such as Stolpe can also be reached by bus from here. By the way, the RE3 continues every 2.hour to Schwedt, which provides a connection to the Oder cycle path and the National Park „Lower Oder Valley“. All these destinations are part of the Brandenburg Transport Association VBB and can be reached with a VBB ticket (with Bahncard* at a reduced rate, also for adults !).
Templin (with Naturtherme) can be reached from the station Eberswalde with the regional train RB63.
By rental car or camper van
If you would like to arrive with a rental car* or with a camper van*, first head for the northern Berlin ring road. At the Barnim junction, the A 11 motorway branches off in the direction of Szczecin and cuts through the entire region from Finowfurt to the Uckermark junction.
Accommodation in the Uckermark
There are many different types of accommodation in the Uckermark region, and there is sure to be something interesting for everyone. Besides the manor house and the Schulland-Heim in Altkünkendorf, which has already been mentioned, here are a few recommendations:
Gerswalde – somewhat remote, 1.5 km outside of Herrensee is the manor Herrenstein* with indoor pool, indoor playground and other active leisure facilities. (Bicycle rental)
Groß Dölln – Hotel Döllnsee – Schorfheide, www.doellnsee.de (conference and wellness hotel with saunas, massages, swimming pool, tennis court, archery, bicycle and canoe rental)
Holiday apartment in the Uckermark:
Altkünkendorf: – Manor house Mon Plaisir www.gutshaus-mon-plaisir.de
Groß Dölln / Schorfheide – Holiday village at the Großväter-See https://www.feriendorf-gross-vaeter-see.de/ different accommodations from holiday flats to group accommodation
Gerswalde – Holiday flat in the permaculture farm Uckermark https://www.permakultur-uckermark.de/urlaub-bei-uns/ferienwohnung/
Gerswalde – Zum Alten Ambulatorium* Two double rooms and one family room are inviting. A communal lounge and the terrace are communicative places, especially cyclists are happy about the quiet location.
Temmen – Ringenwalde – holiday apartments in the holiday home Alter Garten* Various houses with different numbers of beds, garden with old fruit trees, small playground, outdoor table tennis, small sauna
Templin – igloo camp – raft* with terrace and river view, on the beach
Templin – Netzow – Schwalbenhaus* a little bit off the beaten track and quietly situated small hut (Tinyhouse) with 1 double bed and fireplace, bicycle rental and rowing boat available, lake nearby
Templin – Herrenhaus Röddelin* Large house with 5 bedrooms, each with a double bed, so up to 10 guests. Kitchen, terrace and garden, grill and beach
Caravan /Camper – Parking space:
Angermünde / Uckermark – at the Blumberger Mühle, about 3km from the town. A very pleasant place under young oaks and other trees, the pitches are divided with bushes. The only disturbance – from approx. 4:00 o’clock in the morning a train passes approx. 1x/hour (RE3 from Prenzlau/ Stralsund). Especially in autumn cranes and wild geese migrate across the site. By bike you can reach the fish ponds (water bird rest!), Görlsdorf, the Wolletzer forest and lake and the Angermünder Strandbad. Since recently, there is a breakfast delivery service during the season. For cake, bread and rolls from bakery Schreiber on account – ordered by telephone the evening before, delivery is until 7:30 am. Otherwise no service, no electricity, toilets during normal opening hours in the Blumberger Mühle (approx. 150m)
Herzsprung in the Uckermark at the Parstein Lake (north). There are also disposal possibilities here.
campsites in the Uckermark
If you travel with a light tent, you will find some beautiful places most near a lake inviting you for bathing!
Warnitz / Uckermark : At the lake Oberuckersee
Angermünde – at the lido „Naturcampingplatz“, swimming in the lake Wolletzsee possible
Herzsprung in the Uckermark – at the lake Parsteiner See (North)
Brodowin (ecovillage) – Camping Pehlitzwerder/ Am Parsteiner See – swimming possible
Joachimsthal – at the Werbellin Lake
Food – where there’s something special…
In the touristically well developed area you can of course eat somewhere in almost every town. But vegetarian or for another reason worth mentioning, here is a small list:
Gerswalde – castle gardening – in the „Palm House“ greenhouse – „Café zum Löwen“ – European and Japanese food. In the heating house „Glut und Späne“ – fish snack and the bar „Paradieschen“ with ice creations from fruits and herbs
Angermünde – Pizzeria Piccolo – also vegetarian pizzas and pasta, simple, for the quick hunger. Menue (in german only)
„Krambauers Kalit“ and the affiliated „Ketzer“ – varied menu with vegetarian, also vegan offers, uckermärkische kitchen – advance booking recommended, often very full or partly occupied by companies. Take – away – Menue
„Taj Mahal“ – Indian dishes and drinks with an extensive vegetarian part, good and tasty alternative if the above is already too full. Menue Taj Mahal – also for take away
Wolletz – KaffeeKonsum. Mainly venison and organic Angus beef from the organic farm Kerkow, a vegetarian burger with grilled cheese from the cheese dairy Wolters, potato wedges, salad… Facebook kaffeekonsum
Stolpe – Bicycle-Café „Fuchs und Hase“ (see above) – different offers depending on the season from small producers of the region ..some I know personally 🙂 („Stolze Kuh“, „Knigges Kulturen“…) Vegetarian too, but a little thin, especially if you want to fill up your energy as a cyclist ….
Templin – Natural thermal indoor pool with wave pool, children’s pool, sauna area (7 saunas), grotto with brine pool, massages
Angermünde – public wellness area in Hotel Weiss with sauna and massages
Hiking maps and travel guides
Well-tried and always good to use is the hiking map Uckermark – Schorfheide – Barnim* from the KOMPASS publishing house on a scale of 1:50,000. This regional map also contains a small German guide in booklet form. Order in a UK-Shop here.
As a summary here a little FAQ for Schorfheide – Uckermark region:
The east german Uckermark region is located in the northeast of Brandenburg country approximately between Lychen in the west and Schwedt an der Oder in the east and Strasburg (Uckermark) in the north.
The east german Schorfheide forest region is located in the northeast of Brandenburg. The large forest area of the Schorfheide is located north of Eberswalde and the Oder-Havel – Canal, abuts the cities of Zehdenick and Templin in the west, Prenzlau in the north, Angermünde in the east. The Schorfheide is part of the Uckermark region.
The Uckermark includes the small and lovely cities of Angermünde, Prenzlau, Templin, large parts of the Schorfheide forest, the Uckermark lakes between Templin and Feldberg, Ober- and Unteruckersee south of Prenzlau as well as a varied and beautiful moraine landscape, which was formed by the ice age.
The Uckermark is above all a landscape for nature lovers. The most important part is the biosphere reserve Schorfheide- Chorin with an information center „Blumberger Mühle“ near Angermünde. In the whole Uckermark hiking and biking is the most beautiful way to explore. If you want, you can entrust your luggage to a donkey to carry. Near Angermünde the world natural heritage – beech forest „Grumsin“ lures to the discovery. Nature observations are possible in many places. In the old monastery Chorin as well as in the churches of Angermünde you can visit concerts in the summer season.
You can visit the wild horse enclosure in Liebenthal with the rare Przewalski – Urpferden and domestic animal breeds threatened with extinction such as the Mangalitza Wollschwein and others. Nearby in Groß Schönebeck you can find the most important animals of the Schorfheide in the Wildpark Schorfheide. In front of it there is also a climbing forest, where you can test your high rope – climbing skills. A bike tour through the Schorfheide leads for kilometers through varied forests. In the eco-village Brodowin you will find a farm store, organic restaurant and you can take part in a farm tour. Bathing is possible in many clear lakes, which were already formed after the ice age. Gerswalde offers small galleries as well as special restaurants with fish from the region or a Japanese tea room.
By train the Brandenburg regional express line RE3 with various branches in Eberswalde, Britz or Angermünde opens up the Uckermark. By car you cross the Schorfheide and Uckermark on the A11 motorway.
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