15-16/8/16. It’s more than a month since we left Japan! Unbelievable!!
It was inevitable. St Peter-Ording is on a promontory jutting out into the North Sea so when we left we had a 15-20 km ride to the east/south east. And what happens to the westerly winds we have been facing for the last few days? They drop to nothing of course!
Well, at least we should be grateful they didn’t turn through 180°! Providing there is no headwind cycling in these parts is blissfully easy so we made excellent time, crossing a dam at Eidesperrwerk which was clearly a flood defence construction protecting the floodplain of the river which the dam spanned.
It was also the gateway to “Wind Farm City”. All the way from Ribe in Denmark we had been passing turbines, but this was obviously where they breed! The numbers were just staggering! It is no wonder that Germany has days when it only uses renewable energy when you see this amount of generating capacity. Are we unusual in finding them attractive and failing to understand the objections of the NIMBYs and climate-change naysayers back home?
The wind picked up a little in the afternoon but was never strong and generally from the side so we continued to make excellent progress, covering more than 80 km in a day when laden for only the second time since New Zealand (the other occasion being when we misjudged distances and finished at about 8 o’clock) and it was not a strain to do.
We found a lovely little campsite in Brunsbüttel (at the mouth of the River Elbe which flows through Hamburg) that was a very reasonable €13 including kitchen/common room where we caught some of the Olympics for the first time (albeit with a German slant to the coverage, naturally).
On Tuesday morning it was a ride of less than a km to the port to catch the ferry to Cuxhaven, but first Stephen had the job of fitting a new rear tyre to replace one that was starting to show the effects of 10,000 km without a puncture. He wept a silent tear as he consigned an old friend to the bin!
The fare for the ferry was €6 for an adult and €4 for a bike – very reasonable for an 80 minute journey (about the same as the cross-Channel trip). Cuxhaven was a happening place with a long sandy beach which provided a pleasant outlook for us while we munched our rolls and hard boiled eggs.
Catching the 9 o’clock ferry was always going to be a big ask given the task of drying the dew from the tent (this has increased significantly in the last week or so) and the tyre fitting, so we had decided that the next one, at 10.45, was the one for us. Therefore, with the absolute necessity of feeding the inner man/woman, it was well into the afternoon before we started cycling “proper”. And with an improvement in the weather, Christine took the opportunity to enjoy the extensive views of the sun, sea and sand (no surf, in the calm conditions now prevailing) at a leisurely pace (which did not frustrate Stephen in the slightest. No. Absolutely not. Honest.)
As a result we had done less than 30 km when it was time to find a place to stop for the night. We found a campsite set a km on the sea side if the dyke in the middle of a wide expanse of salt marsh and grassland. The only signs of humanity visible are a small harbour with one or two sheds, a restaurant made from 2 containers to serve bathers at the nearby beach and a dozen wind turbines.
It is an idyllic setting but very exposed to westerly winds so it must have been “draughty”, to say the least, a few days ago. We mentioned the beach above. This is rather overplaying it! There is a small patch of sand but it is dwarfed by the mud flats which are on a similar scale to those at Weston-Super-Mare (of Weston-Super-Mud as Christine calls it, based on her childhood memories of living close by). The sea is a very distant line when the tide is out leaving acres and acres of thick, brown goo! The seabirds love it.