A few hundred years ago, Schleswig-Holstein was once so densely covered with forest that a squirrel could probably have jumped from tree to tree, and made it from one coast to the other. Today, there are still 173,000 hectares of forest in the northernmost federal state, which corresponds to about eleven per cent of the state’s area. In the heart of Schleswig-Holstein, the state’s three nature parks – Westensee Nature Park, Aukrug and Hüttener Berge – are all strung together. Light deciduous forests and delicate heath landscapes characterise the picture here. The birch-lined, atmospheric moorland landscapes are home to many rare animal and plant species. In the nature park around the Hüttener Berge, people look confidently at the elevation of the Aschberg, although there is really no such thing as a mountain – standing proud at 98 metres in height. A hike to the highest point is nevertheless recommended: Since everything is flat all around, on a clear day, you can enjoy a view as far as the Eckernförde Bay and the Kiel Canal. Wilderness and cultural landscape are often situated close together up here. The farmers border their fields with around 46,000 kilometres of hedgerows, metre-wide hedges of sloes, hazels and hawthorns that protect the land from erosion. Briars such as brambles and hedge roses discourage wild and grazing animals and are also habitats for thousands of animal species. The North German saying “da geht die Sau durch den Knick”, which loosely translated means “There’s a lot going on”, is anchored in the special landscape feature of the “Knick” or “traditional hedge way”.
Hike through narrow paths or vast hilly landscapes, cycle past lakes and through forests, and picnic at the side of the road – in Schleswig-Holstein, six nature parks invite you on a discovery tour and a time out in nature.