I ride regularly through village after village in the Leine Valley near Göttingen. Each has a story to tell spanning for some a thousand-year history and like so many in Central Europe they have been caught up in events beyond their control.
In the 17th century the Leine Valley was ravaged by conflict during the Thirty Years War and in the 18th once more the power games of the dominant nations were played out in the Seven Years War which raged in the area between 1756 to 1763 leading to more great suffering and economic chaos.
The people of these villages were swept along when Great Britain and France fought for imperial dominance. The British possessing a superior navy wanted to push the French out of their colonies and dominions across the World. Their plan was to subsidise the enemies of France such as the German speaking Prussian, Hessen and Hannoverian royal houses hoping they could pin France to continental Europe and weaken its presence around the world. This was ultimately successful, and it resulted in a territorial carve up not to the benefit of France.
My ride took me to Deiderode, and this village was the headquarters of the French in 1760 and they built a long defensive position made up of earthworks from the River Werra to the River Leine. Additionally, the French occupied the nearby city of Göttingen where I now live.
Overlooking 12th century Deiderode is the 370-metre high Gieseberg, and this was at the heart of the French fortifications. I was on my road bike and so I declined to climb the gravel forest road to the top.
In February 2021 I was at Deiderode to visit the site of a United States Airforce B17 called Lassie Come Home which was shot down here (one of six lost in a 30 second period in 1944).
All Along the Watchtower (military history of the area)
The Ride – 58KM (2 gravel sectors)
I visited, Obernjesa, Klein Schneen (looted in the 30 Years War), and Elkerhausen before I crossed the border into Hesse (a stream) on a gravel path into Marzhausen. Following a newly laid road I went through Hermannrode to Mollenfelde passing an old Jewish Cemetery. Near Mollenfelde stands the Berlepsch Castle (constructed 1368, almost destroyed and the family ruined in the 30 Years War & rebuilt 1894), and this was once a place for bird fanciers, poets, a Bhagwan and was visited by Goethe in 1801.
I should have gone back to Mollenfelde but went further down the hill until I realised, I was within six kilometres of Witzenhausen on the Werra River and I knew I had to retrace my steps.
Back in Mollenfelde I rode along a ridge of high ground with great views toward Jühnde Castle (destroyed in the 30 Years War) and the Gauß Tower to the West with Göttingen to the East into Deiderode. It was then a wonderful downhill section for many kilometres back to Klein Schneen where I let my whimsey guide me home via Friedland.