North Sea to Baltic Canal (NOK)
The Canal between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea is a classical Northern
Germany bicycle tour. The landscape is verdant and lush. You will learn the history
of the canal and the two canals that preceded the construction of the current canal.
The English name for this canal is the Kiel Canal.
But wait, what does "NOK" stand for? The sea that the English call the North
Sea the Germans call the Ostsee, for East Sea.
July 2009. We start our tour in Brunsbüttel and ride to Kiel, a
166-mile (266 km) ride over 5 days. The canal is 61.3 miles long (98.7 kilometers),
but the bike path alongside the canal is 202-miles long (325 kilometers). How is
this possible? Well, the bike path is circuitous and the map of it looks as if someone
dropped a worm with the bends on it. That elongation does not detract from the adventure;
in fact, it enhances it because you will see much more following the bike route
than merely riding on the somewhat boring towpath along the canal. You do get a
taste of that towpath though. The bike path route is 325 km if you take every loop
and stay strictly on the mapped path – which we did not. We were almost religious
about it though we covered 266 kilometers of the mapped route.
The map of the route above is through the auspices of Touristische Arbeitsgemeinschaft
NOK, which sponsors the following websites: www.nok-sh.de
are accompanied – in actual truth we are led, on this tour by two expert cyclists
and renowned authors, Neil and Judith Forsyth. They have authored several touring
books about bicycling in Germany. We defer to the more experienced riders, don’tchaknow.
Please visit their website: www.bergstrassebikebooks.com.
They have published a book about this tour entitled
in Northern Germany. Click the link to read a summary.
While the tour itself starts in Brunsbüttel there is no train station there.
We agree with Neil and Judith to meet in Glückstadt, which does have a train station
and is a short bike ride along the coast to Brunsbttel. So, I will record the mileage
from Glückstadt, then restart the cyclometer again at the start of the canal.
By the way, when I use the initials “NOK” I just mean Nord-Ostsee
Kanal, the German abbreviation for North Sea-Baltic Canal, also known in English
as the Kiel Canal.
Signage is good the entire length. The square sign on the left says NOK
route and between the two words is a blue green graphical swoop with bicycle. However,
this logo is not always used but the initials NOK (Nord-Ostsee Kanal)
are usually on signs. The signs on the top right are for the Elbe bike path that
we take from Glückstadt to Brunsbüttel. The other picture on the right is one of
several informational signs we find along the way.
With the exception of the pranks of prepubescent boys, every time you need a
sign to help you find your way it is there. When there are none or when they point
the wrong way, I blame the prepubescent boys. I know, many years ago, I was one.
If that is not bad enough, so was my brother; but that is another story.
There are more than sufficient overnight lodgings along the way. I refer
you to our Overnight Accommodations
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Day 1: Glückstadt to Brunsbüttel (prologue)
Consider this ride just a commute
to get to the real start of the ride in Brunsbüttel. As mentioned above, we meet
Neil and Judith in Glückstadt on a sunny afternoon. We have a room with a living
room, kitchen, a large bedroom, and a TV. Glückstadt was founded in 1617 by Christian
IV king of Denmark and Norway and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein. The path along
the coast is flat and mostly paved.
We spent last night in a Privat Zimmer owned by the
family Gehrig, 17 Rallenstieg, Glücksatdt. The cost is €44/night per couple but
it would be only €40 if one were to stay longer. The price includes a great German
breakfast. The house is right on bike path and only ½ block from the ferry crossing
the Elbe. The telephone is 04124/2760. These people keep a gorgeous garden that
would be eligible for a full page spread in House and Garden Beautiful.
Starting at our room, mile 1.1 (1.8 km), from downtown Glückstadt. We hop on the
bike path and await our fellow riders who are coming from downtown. It starts to
rain as soon as we say goodbye to Herr and Frau Gehrig. We pedal up to the ferry
landing and wait for Neil and Judith to catch up with us. They started in the youth
hostel near downtown Glückstadt.
The photograph on the left is our meal of labskaus with herring and fried
egg. Beer was needed to wash it down, of course. Labskaus is a mixture
of corned beef, potatoes, onions, red beets, spices, and garlic. It is typical fare
of East Friesland and one of my favorite dishes.
are used to these gate arrangements they use to keep sheep in the dike and off the
car traveled roads but there is a process to get thorough the self-locking gates.
Sometimes we have to ride through a herd of sheep. The sheep are not the problem,
but what they leave behind will dirty your tires. Note to self, do not lick
We ferry across the canal in Brunsbüttel to begin the bike
tour. I reset my odometer to zero here. The ride along the Elbe is not eventful
if you do not count the rain and the sheep dung. If stops and turns sunny before
we reach Brunsbüttel.
Still Day 1: Brunsbüttel to Burg
Brunsbüttel. We take time to gather information from the Tourist
Information Office and purchase ingredients for a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine
for this evening. The path takes us all around the town but we cheat right at the
start and connect with the path as it heads out of town instead of doing the whole
chamber of commerce loop.
We turn off the path to the right here to ride 2 kilometer
in order to see the lowest point in all of Germany. It is just a lark but why not?
The sign reads “Tiefste Landstelle der B. R. Deutschland” or “Lowest point
in the Republic of Germany.” The “NN” means Normalnull or mean
We cross the river on another ferry into Burg. We look for
the Tourist Information office to choose an overnight here. Maybe the wine is getting
heavy or maybe we have done enough for one day. We have gone a total of 49 miles
(79 km) counting the mileage from Glückstadt. We spend the night with Peters &
Peterson address Grosse Mühlenstrasse 25712 Burg (Dithm). Their cell phone is: 0176/232494,
telephone 04825901515, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I do not remember the cost but breakfast was not included so we ate at a bakery
in the center of town that had a very typical selection of good breads and a couple
tables. We added some coffee, butter, and jam to their Brötchen.
Day 2: Burg to Hanerau-Hademarschen
Today you might find a little …ah,
altitudinal undulation. It is not hilly but then again you do ride up and down something
akin to hills. Nothing steep but the undulation seems constant. The highest climb
is outside of Albersdorf and it is about 50 feet.
We start the day at the bakery in the center of Burg.
We cross on yet another
free ferry at Hohönn. All the ferries on this ride are free.
We check in with the Tourist
Information office in Albersdorf. Just thinking about a stopping place down the
On the map near the small
village of Hackelberg (after Albersdorf but before Thaden) is a table like symbol
that marks a “Grabstein” or ancient grave. An 1874 archeological dig found
stuff and an 1908 gig looked further and found a grossstein grab (big rock
grave) from the early Stone Age or about 3,500 years before Christ. In addition
to the 8 vertical weight baring stones, there are flat stones atop which served
as a roof. Atop the older grave, they found a Bronze Age grave with bits of a wooden
Thaden. From here we took
a shortcut alongside Wester Strasse directly into Hanerau-Hademarschen. There is
a nice bike path parallel to the main road.
In Hademarschen we stop
for the night at a house owned by Karen and Werner Manke, Stettiner Strasse 5, 25557
Hademarschen, telephone 04872/3160. The cost is €20 per person per night. This is
a whole house but we have the main level and another person has the 2nd floor. Unfortunately,
breakfast is not included with this lodging either but that is not much of an obstacle
since there are plenty of bakeries.
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Day 3: Hanerau-Hademarschen to Rendsburg
We start the day climbing a 70
foot hill just out of town; but then comes the drop or downhill ride. Not that the
following will apply to you when you ride the NOK but we contend with drifting thunderheads
that are causing localized showers. When we see them coming and can find shelter
we do. However, as in the case in the photograph, sometimes we have shelter but
the shower happens elsewhere.
It is downhill to the Fischerhütte, a place we were
yesterday before we swung south in a circuitous route.
Riding through Haale, I notice a sign that seems to be calling
me in for a beer. However, my three fellow travelers drag me along kicking, crying
and suddenly thirsty.
In Rendsburg, we stop at
Schützenheim am Kanal a hotel and restaurant owned by Gisele Westphal-Raub and Peter
Raub. The address is Itzehoerchaussee 2, 24784 Westerrönfeld-Rendsburg, telephone
email@example.com. They can accommodate up to 100 guests and their price
depends on the room but a double bed for one night is €85. It is right at the southern
end of the tunnel under the canal. The rooms are large, good for hanging up your
hand washed laundry.
Day 4: Rendsburg to Sehestedt
Today is rainy. We did not get
started on time because we were waiting for a shower to pass.
We join the NOK bike path
in Jevenstedt. We left Rendsburg following the Ochsenweg bike path leading here
because it looked more interesting than the towpath to Hasenkrug, etc.
This is the southern end of the high railroad bridge
at Rendsburg. If you wonder what we are doing back in Rendsburg, we are simply following
the twisty, windy, loopy route on the map. After riding 21 kilometer, we are just
a few blocks from where we spent last night. However here is a horizontal elevator
(huh?). Well, I have never heard of a horizontavator before. But that is what this
is. It hangs below the Railroad Bridge and moves people, cars, and bikes from one
bank of the canal to the other. In German, it is called a Schwebefähre,
a type of Hängebahn. A Schwebe means to swing or suspend and
Fähre means ferry. A Hängebahn is simply a hanging vehicle. Why
do I capitalize nouns in German? Because the Germans do; what can I say?
We stop for the afternoon in Sehestedt. It is a quiet village
with a bit of history. There is a Gut here. A Gut is a large set
of farm buildings that were occupied by a very rich farmer of a member of the petit
nobility. The main house of a Gut is usually a Herrenhaus. This
one was built in 1728. The buildings are typical of the architectural style of this
part of northern Germany.
is also a monument in town, not far from the Gut that memorializes a bit
of history connected with Sehestedt. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe,
the defeated French fleeing from the battle of Leipzig (October 16, 1813), marched
north to meet their allies, the Danes. The Danes had a fortress at Rendsburg but
before the ragtag remnants of the French and Danish Armies could reach the fortress,
they encountered a few units of the allied Prussian, Swedish, and Russian armies.
Who even though vastly outnumbered, denied the French and Danish access to Rendsburg.
The Battle of Sehestedt occurred on December 10, 1813. If you are interested in
this battle, click here
for a Wikipedia page.
We spend the night in Pension Alteschmiede, owned by Frau Fell. The address is
Haupt Strasse 20, 24814 Sehestedt. The telephone is 04357/1021 or 04357/580. This
is a Ferienwohnungen or a vacation apartment. It includes a bedroom, a
kitchen, and a living room. Usually, they expect a multi-night stay but for only
one night they charge €55. After securing the Pension, our first order of business
is to cycle 4.5 kilometer to Holtsee to purchase a picnic supper and something to
wash our food down. In Holtsee, we found a wonderful cheese manufacturer that we
support by leaving behind some of our tourist Euros.
Back to the top
Day 5: Sehestedt to Kiel
There are some minor hills but
nothing over 30 feet or so. There is also a small amount of gravel. As to the path
conditions, one area between Albersdorf and Lüjenwestedt is downright challenging
but only for about a kilometer through a nature preserve alongside the Haaler Au.
We wake up to the sound of pounding
rain. It does not look like a fun day to bicycle. After slowly eating breakfast
to wait out what we hope is just a shower, we admit that the sky is uniformly leaden
and it looks as if we will just have to be wet today. We shove off downhill toward
the ferry just a block away and head to the south side of the canal.
Our first mission is to check out the Alte Eider Kanal.
This canal was built between 1777 to 1784 and it was used until 1884. In those days,
one could ship goods from Kiel to Rendsburg in as little as 12 hours. Today however,
one can go from Kiel all the way to Brunsbüttel in less than 7 hours.
From the Old Eider Canal, one could continue to follow the map on another one
of those loops but it is raining and one would need a sense of humor for that. I
check and no one here has any of the humor necessary. So, we ride the 3 kilometers
back to the ferry and turn east up the towpath towards the Eiderkanalschleuse,
or the Eider Canal Locks. That loss of humor saves us 33 kilometers.
We stop in Ottendorf for
our picnic lunch (leftovers from breakfast). The sign says it is 14 kilometers to
downtown Kiel and the end of the tour.
We end the tour at the Tourists Information Office in downtown
Kiel. We spend the night in an inexpensive pension across the Kieler Förde
(the harbor, basically) from the center of town. It is not noteworthy and if I had
it to do over again, I wouldn’t stay here. We did, however, save enough money to
buy a sandwich and a couple beers for the train ride home the next day.
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|Fahrradhändler / Werkstatt
Bike Sales / Repair
||Brunsbütteler Fahrradservice Repair and Rental
||Mo-Fr 9-18 Uhr Sa 9-13 Uhr
||Zweiradhaus Lamberty Rent, Delivery, Repair
|Burger Str. 15
||Mo-Fr 8:30-18:30 Sa 9-13 Uhr
||Nordoeltankstelle Reparatur und Verleih
||Mo-So 6-24 Uhr
||Manfred Pohlmann Reapratur, Verleih, Service
||Mo-Fr 9-18 Uhr Sa 9-12 Uhr
||Fahrradhandel Knobloch Reparatur und Verleih
||Mo-Fr 9-19 Uhr
||Hollesen & Sohn Verleih und Reparatur
||Mo-Fr 8-12 Uhr +14:30-18 Uhr Sa 8-14 Uhr
||Fahrrad-Service Falk Reichert Reparatur
||Mo-Fr 8-18 Uhr Sa 9-12 Uhr
||Rath Verleih und Reparatur
||Mo-Fr 8-18 Uhr Sa 9:30-12 Uhr
||Neuwerker Fahrradhaus Reparatur
||Mo-Fr 9.30-18 Uhr Sa 9.30-14 Uhr
||Servicestation am Bahnhof Verleih and Lieferung
||04331-55835 Mo-Fr 5-19
||Uhr Sa-So 10-17 Uhr
||Fahrrad Rosacker Reparatur und Verleih
||Mo-Fr 8.30-12.30 +14.3-18 Uhr Sa 8.30-14 Uhr
||Bike Point Reparatur
||Am Markt 12-14
||Mo-Fr 9-18 Uhr Sa 10-13 Uhr
||Ruckenwind Kiel-Gaarden Selbstbastler sind willkommen
||Mo-Fr 10-18 Uhr Sa 10-14 Uhr
||Knooper Weg 165
||Mo-Fr 10-18 Uhr Sa 10-140Uhr
||Fahrradhaus Russee Reparatur und Verleih
||Rendsburger Landstr. 378
||Mo-Fr 8-18 Uhr Sa 9-13 Uhr
|Flat tire Service Brunsbüttel to Osterrönfeld
|Hollesen & Sohn
|Flat tire Service Rendsburg to Kiel
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