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A family weekend in the Peine district – from flying saucers, to Easter bunnies, to romantic river rides

Eixer See in der Dämmerung (Copyright: Christian Bierwagen)

Whether in the water, on the water or on dry land – Peine has plenty to offer for recreational athletes, young and old alike. From sunbathing on the beach at one of the numerous lakes, to canoeing on the Fuhse River, from flying saucers at Disc Golf, to learning about the region’s industrial culture, there is always something to do here.

Why not plan an active weekend with the whole family in the Peine region? The region is characterised by an attractive landscape of small river meadows, lowlands and rolling hills. Widespread gravel mining in the area means that water sports enthusiasts get their money’s worth, as artificial lakes provide ‘second-hand’ biotopes. The lakes have long since become popular paradises for swimmers, and visitors from the region and beyond seek refreshment and rest here not just on hot days. And they are also attracted to the region for cultural and historical reasons.

From industrial history to country getaways

If you’re able to extend the weekend a bit, we recommend starting on Friday morning in the municipality of Lengede. As tranquil as it is today, Lengede became known all over the world in 1963 for a dramatic mine accident and the ‘Miracle of Lengede’ that followed. That year, clarification pond number 12 in the Lengede-Broistedt iron ore mine suddenly collapsed, sending 475,000 cubic metres of water and mud into the Mathilde pit and trapping many miners. Many of them were rescued, but eleven workers could not be reached at first. They remained underground for a full 14 days until what had been believed to be impossible happened: their rescue came to be known as the miracle of Lengede! A free permanent exhibition in Legende’s city hall documents the dramatic events with impressive photos, newspaper clippings and information boards. You can also learn more about the history of mining and the geology that made it possible here (opening hours: Monday to Wednesday 8 a.m.–6 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m.–6 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.–12 p.m., occasional events weekend events). You can then drive past the clarification pond to the memorial of the mining accident that has been erected five kilometres away (including the Mathilde pit, Vallstedter Weg, Lengede), up to Seilbahnberg Hill, where you can also enjoy a magnificent panoramic view over the Peine region and all the way to the Harz Mountains.

In the village of Ilsede-Oberg, you’ll find a dramatic story in an unspoiled country idyll – and it’s a top attraction for young and old alike: visit the Easter Bunny’s ‘base camp’ at the Easter egg house belonging to Ms Gehlhaar, who is known as the ‘Egg Lady’ (Lahbergweg 10, 31246 Ilsede-Oberg, www.laendliche-deko.de). The finest Easter decorations are created throughout the year here, and in the demo workshop you can watch how actual pieces of art are created from ordinary chicken eggs using filigree painting or rustic cross-stitching.

From this enchanted stopover in the countryside, you only need to travel four kilometres to reach a setting steeped in industrial romanticism. The Peine region is shaped by the mining and steel industry, and the Ilseder Hütte industrial park, one of the major complexes of industrial culture in Lower Saxony, is far and away the best place to experience this. In 1858, a blast furnace plant was opened here, and was the first plant dedicated to the production of pig iron in Lower Saxony. Over the decades, an extensive complex of steelworks, including the blasting hall, coking plant and power plant, was built around the original plant. Thousands of workers made their living here. Miraculously, this important industrial plant survived both world wars unscathed and is therefore still stands as a well-preserved industrial monument today. An impressive industrial route, which can be experienced during an organised tour (at least ten persons, contact: Tourist-Info Peiner Land, Ilseder Hütte 10, 31241 Ilsede, Tel. +49 5172-9492-600, www.tourismus-peine.de), runs across the former steelworks site. But you can also explore on your own at any time; wito gmbh offers an informative brochure explaining the individual stations on the industrial tour.

On Seilbahnberg Hill

Ilseder Hütte

Flying saucers – into the basket

And we have something very special for you at the end of your first day of adventures in the Peine region. Peine is the secret centre of an up-and-coming sport: disc golf. On the grounds at Ilseder Hütte, you will find an extensive 18-hole disc golf course. (The required discs are available for a small fee at the Currywurst & Coffee restaurant (Eichstraße 5, 31241 Ilsede, Tel. +49 5172-370247).)

Disc golf? That’s right! It’s got nothing to do with disco and relatively little with golf, but is at least as much fun. You could call it frisbee golf, but the round objects you throw are called discs here. These need to make it to the goal, a metal basket, in as few throws as possible. Unlike real golf, you don’t have to train for years to be able to play: you can start right away, just as you would with mini golf. This makes disc golf suitable for all ages, and it is best played in a group or with the family.

Your first exciting day in the Peine region is drawing to a close. A good place to spend the night is Vechelde, where the tour continues the next morning. You’ll find a wide range of accommodation in the area – from private apartments to guest houses. Landhaus Verdi (Dorfstraße 12, 38159 Vechelde) is especially highly recommended. Here you can enjoy dinner at the bistro, or in the beer garden during the warmer months. If you’re looking for something a bit more lavish on the first evening of your adventure, you can also dine at the Fehtlon restaurant and beer garden in the former pleasure palace belonging to Duke Ferdinand of Braunschweig, which is surrounded by a magnificent historic park (Hildesheimer Straße 5, 38159 Vechelde; 11 a.m.–2.30 p.m., 5 p.m.–11 p.m., closed on Mondays).

Fun at the lake and adventures in the forest

Saturday is all about experiencing pure, unspoiled nature. If the weather is warm enough, you can start by going for a swim before lunch. The Vechelde-Bettmar open-air swimming pool (Naturfreibad Vechelde-Bettmar) offers everything that fans of outdoor swimming love: a 50-metre track marked out in the lake with starting blocks and a 5-metre diving platform – plus a children’s slide with a non-swimmer area for the little ones. Those who prefer to remain on dry land can play boules or try a game of open-air chess. Just a few minutes’ walk from the Bettmar open-air pool you will find the idyllic ‘Waldsee Camping’ resort on another lake at Bettmarer Holz nature reserve.

After enjoying a lovely swim, we are off into the countryside: Zweidorfer Holz forest adventure trail leads to Basthorst, a large wooded area between the villages of Meerdorf, Wendeburg and Sophiental. The 25,000-square-metre beech, oak and alder forest here lets you experience nature up close at 22 adventure stations. This varied adventure extends from below the forest floor and up into the canopy, where you can swing from tree to tree like Tarzan, or guess animal sounds. The forest adventure trail cannot be accessed directly by car. Three starting points are available, each about a thirty-minute walk from the path. They are located behind the Paradiessee camping ground at Meerdorf, at the edge of Sophiental and at Windmühle Zweidorf, a windmill. Detailed information and maps can be found at www.wald-erlebnis-pfad.de.

Finally, your day comes to an end the same way you started it: by the water. You can choose between three lovely bathing areas, which are just a few kilometres away.

You’ll find Wehnser See, a lake on the edge of the rural village of Wehnsen, a few kilometres north of Peine. From here, it’s only eight kilometres to Wipshäuser Kieskuhle (a lake in a former gravel pit). This body of water northeast of Peine is very popular, especially with families, thanks to its shallow shore, the playground and barbecue spots.

Zweidorfer Holz forest adventure playground

[Translate to Englisch:] Ansicht Naturfreibad Broistedt
View of Broistedt natural open-air swimming area (Photo: Susanne Jasper)

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Eixer See, a lake just north of Peine, has a fine sandy beach, a sunbathing area as well as a volleyball court, and attracts crowds of bathers. If you happen to find yourself there on the right day in June (we recommend the third Sunday), you can even witness the spectacle of the Peiner Härke Triathlon: Eixer Lake becomes the site of fierce competition during this race. A restaurant on the south shore of the lake is also popular with tourists. On the lakeside patio you can basking in the sun over coffee, delicious ice cream and cake or have dinner at sunset. Overnight accommodation can be found nearby the lakes, for example, at the Best Western Hotelin Peine-Salzgitter (Ammerweg 1, 31228 Peine) or at the four-star Hotel Schönau (Peiner Straße 17, 31228 Peine).

beach
Eixer Lake has a fine sandy beach, a sunbathing area as well as a volleyball court (Photo: Christian Bierwagen)

Canoeing through pristine nature

You’ll then be ready for an extensive canoe trip along the Fuhse River on Sunday morning. We make our start at Eixer Mühle, a mill in Peine, which is worth a visit in and of itself. It was first mentioned in a feudal agreement in 1349, but probably dates back to the 11th century. The mill is no longer active and today serves as a general store. The water turbine is used to generate electricity.

This marks the start of your delightful canoe tour, which winds its way through lowlands, meadows and fields. Extending a good twenty kilometres, it takes you past small villages, historic watermills and bridges to the village of Uetze. You will come across six weirs, and you will need to carry the canoe around the weir at at least two of them. But not to worry, the canoe outfitters will show you how it works. You can also book a guided tour if you’d like. Stop for a picnic in the countryside on the way, or boost your energy in Uetze in the afternoon with coffee and cake at the Alte Wassermühle (old water mill).

Finally, a visit to Kreuzkrug, a traditional country inn close to Uetze, which has hosted guests for over 200 years and is famous for its ducks, is the perfect way to end the weekend in style. Here you can round off your eventful weekend by enjoying regional specialities.

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