A long-distance cycling trail marks history
The old salt route “Alte Salzstraße” was once a busy trade route. Salt, in the Middle Ages a very precious mineral, was transported from the saline of Lüneburg to Lübeck, from where it was then shipped to the whole Baltic Sea region. Today, a purpose-built cycle trail follows the traces of the “white gold”. It runs from Lüneburg to where it crosses the river Elbe in Lauenburg and then follows the Elbe-Lübeck canal all the way to Travemünde. Historic locks, romantic villages, stone churches and graves of the river Stecknitz navigators are silent time witnesses of a long history on this 1,118 kilometer long route.
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Canal and culture in the Stecknitz region
Leaving Ratzeburg westwards brings you into the beautiful Stecknitz region in just a few minutes.
The Elbe-Lübeck canal is the regions’s blue lifeline, but the history of the region originates at the small river Stecknitz.
Near Mölln, during the Middle Ages, the river Stecknitz was connected to the river Delvenau creating the oldest artificial waterway in Northern Europe.
The Stecknitz-Delvenau canal was the predecessor of the Elbe-Lübeck canal.
And it was the transport route for the precious salt that was once transported from
Lüneburg to Lübeck. The last ice age created a gently undulating countryside.
Holiday makers can look forward to finding the typical north German “Gemutlichkeit”,
cultural highlights and regional specialities. A well-constructed network of cycling and hiking trails runs through beautiful countryside to idyllic villages with thatched cottages, stately manor houses and venerable churches.
The Stecknitz region has an exemplary network of cycling trails. In addition to the three-star cycling trail along the Elbe-Lübeck canal (from Lübeck to Lauenburg) there are well-built paths from Bad Oldesloe to Ratzeburg, from Kastorf to Lübeck and East of the canal from Berkenthin via Klempau and Krummesse to Lübeck. Hikers and cylists can easily travel to Bad Oldesloe, Lübeck and Ratzeburg by train. In Krummesse (“Landhotel Kanaujia”) and in Berkenthin (“Meier’s Inn”) there are bicycle rental stations.
(Hi)story along the former inner German border
Until the year 1989, a heavily guarded and impenetrable border ran along the Eastern side of the Duchy of Lauenburg. Today, we are able to enjoy untouched nature along the former border. Go on a round trip along the “Green Belt” and discover more about German-German history.
On almost car-free roads and paths that are almost flat, the “border route” leads to testimonials of German history. The starting point of the newly designed 39 km long themed route is the village Büchen-Dorf.
Visit the priest’s cottage “Priesterkate” dating from 1649. Its culture center houses an exhibition on the former inner German border. This exhibition will give you an insight into the German-German border. As the oldest agricultural building in the Duchy of Lauenburg, it is protected. Together with the local 13th century church Marienkirche it has witnessed the German separation.
From Büchen, the cycling trail takes you to Schwanheide where you will find a train station that was just at the border of the former German Democratic Republic GDR.
In order to prevent GDR citizens from escaping the republic, they were locked inside the station buildings until the train arrived. Further along your way, between Leisterförde and Fortkrug, you can see exhibits of the former border installations. You will experience the “Green Belt” along which nature was able to thrive for decades undisturbed. A little detour to the “Gartenschläger-Eck” brings you to the spot where Michael Gartenschläger was shot in 1976. At his third attempt to dismantle a spring gun type SM70 along the border fence, he was shot by border guards.
From here, the route runs via Bergholz to the ferry in Fitzen/Siebeneichen. The crossing with the unique cable ferry over the Elbe-Lübeck canal is not only an exciting adventure for children. If you like, also take a look at the late baroque stone church in Siebeneichen.
After that, the trail takes you towards Büchen, where the priest’s cottage offers home-baked cakes and coffee every first Sunday of the month between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. from February to November to hikers walking the border route.
Out and about on the border tour
The approx. 39 km long loop along the former inner German border starts in the village Büchen-Dorf. Experience German history and nature at its finest.