It rained and it snowed (more like sleet) and I got cold and wet scouting ´All Along the Watchtowers´ an idea for a gravel burgen (castle) ride.
I started at Judenplatz where once stood a synagogue which was burnt to the ground in 1930´s by the Nazi´s, a fitting place to start my ride of castles and watchtowers reminding us that war and hate has devastating outcomes.
The Holocaust Denkmal is close to the old Göttingen City Wall that has held back attackers such as during the Thirty Years War although it couldn´t stop the French occupying the city in the 19th century. Much of the city defences remain although now you have to bunny hop the kerbs to cross the roads cut through them.
On route I stopped at Otto ´Blood and Iron´ Bismarck´s house when he was a student in Göttingen. You will note that although a door leads onto the wall the building is outside, this was because he was banned from staying over night due to his bad behaviour.
The next military location came after a quick spin through the suburbs to Dreckwarte, this pile of stones is not actually the old mediaeval watch tower, but a replica positioned where it once stood.
Thereon after following the Leine River the lost Grona Burg was my next target, and it must be said there are is some cool single track to be had here. The castle at Grona was once the seat of an Emperor of the Holy Roman, but most usually was a pain for Göttingen´s citizens who resented its influence over them. They finally knocked it down in 1387.
Grona saw the brunt of Allied bombing during WW2 being adjacent to a major railway junction and to this day unexploded bombs are regularly found (in recent times three bomb disposal officers were killed). Near here is also the lost Weende airfield, not a fighting base rather a test centre. The Horton Flying wing being the most famous and when the US Army looked, they found several captured US aircraft in various states of build.
Near to Grona is the Stadt Friedhof where so many war victims are buried.
I was so enjoying the wind at my back and a long gravel section that I went straight past Bovenden and had to back track. Bovenden is placed below the Plesse Burg the next location on my ride. This area has a degree of military history.
Close by are the villages of Lenglern and Harste, the former was the location of a large explosives’ factory and the latter where a World War Two Prisoner of War camp was situated and inmates, many French, would join other forced labourers to make gunpowder etc. The Nazi´s threatened to blow it up taking Göttingen with it.
At Bovenden the only ground battle of WW2 in the immediate area was fought when the US Army routed a Nazi Panzer counterattack. The local cemetery contains several German War Graves.
The subsequent climb up to the Plesse Burg was mostly gravel and not too hard to pedal. This burg has stood against siege in the Thirty Years War whilst towns in the valley below such as Northeim were burnt to the ground.
From the Plesse there are long rolling gravel roads that just seem to go on for ever, sadly I had to take a detour as forestry work had closed the weg. I did find a way round.
The ride down to Nikolausberg is cool and includes the Die Rieswarte watchtower. The descent from there to Herberhausen is also very fast and demanding. In the rain and sleet, it was quite a challenge to stay warm.
My scouting ride ended at the Zieten Barracks once the home of Pre-WW2 German soldiers, then the US, British and Bundeswehr, but is now mostly housing a legacy of the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Stage two of the All Along the Watchtowers Gravel Ride will feature Kesterlingroder Feld, once a forward NATO Panzer base and the Gleichen´s with its castle.
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