Hallig Hooge

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Hallig Hooge

Hallig Hooge
Taken under the wheels

April fool’s joke or tour tip? To cross over a 5.5 km small island on superbikes is of course fun. But not a bad one.

Thomas Quast


“You want to go to Hooge with the mopeds?” Asks the still somewhat tired North Frisian behind the counter in the little barracks on the early morning of April 1st. It serves the Wyker-Dampfschiffs-Reederei in Schluttsiel as a ferry office. Through the narrow window he skeptically looks at the ninja and the Fireblade, crouched deep in the fresh wind, waiting for the Schluttsiel-Hooge-Langeness-Amrum ferry to depart. Islets on which there is hardly a road. “I said at once,” I hiss at Klaus, “that we would make a fool of ourselves with the fat bowls on Hooge.” With a slightly embarrassed smile, I assure the ferry worker that we thought it was a good idea, but only reap the benefits a pityingly alienated »Well!« We carefully roll onto the »Hilligenlei«, which is supposed to cruise us through the North Frisian Wadden Sea together with a few other guests and day-trippers. On the upper deck, a tape broadcast explains the special features of these ten barely fortified sand hills. According to this, Halligen, in contrast to islands, do not have a solid base and are partially flooded with stronger storm surges. The fear that the carburettors of the super athletes will now be flooded with salt water twice a day is quickly dispelled by the announcement, because traditionally the houses are standing on artificial earths, it sounds from the loudspeaker, the so-called terps. In addition, most of the Halligen are now protected by low summer dikes, so that undercuts can only be expected occasionally in spring and autumn. It’s good that it’s April right now. Between the Halligen Langeness, Oland, Habel and Grode as well as the island Pellworm, the »Hilligenlei« stamps across the calm sea towards Hooge. As soon as you arrive, you can see the five and a half square kilometer island with its nine terps from the upper deck – there it is, the ultimate challenge for our superbikes. Right at the harbor, next to the bike rental, there is the only traffic sign Hooges: 35 km / h. Alright At walking pace I hurry behind a brightly colored two-horse cart to the Backenswarft, where we have reserved a room in the »Hus Halligblick« for the next few days. On the hill there are some small, red houses, in front of which rabbits and two furry sheep expertly keep the green meadow short. Ninja and Fireblade take the ascent to the hill unmoved. The »Friesenpesel« restaurant is next to our guesthouse and I treat myself to Frisian flour dumplings, sweet flour dumplings – delicious on the sun-warm terrace. From up here, amid the incessant screeching of the in-house pirate parrots Charly and Lora, you can completely overlook the remaining eight terps of the Hallig with houses. They rise like small separate islands from the flat, pancake-like meadow plain, which is especially colorful in springtime. In the middle is the wide tidal creek so characteristic of Hooge, an irregularly meandering arm of seawater that glistens silently in the sunlight. We want to get a closer impression of Hooge and ride the motorcycles from the Backenswarft to the Hanswarft. We leave the bikes at their feet to explore the tourist center of Hooges. It is the only Hallig that has a tourist infrastructure worth mentioning. In addition to “Uns Hallig Hus” – the parish hall, tourist office and event room rolled into one – there are restaurants and cafes. The Hooges attraction is also located here: the »Konigspesel«. A pretty Frisian house from 1776 that houses the famous parlor – because nothing else is a Pesel. It owes its royal surname to an emergency overnight stay by the Danish King Frederik VI, who was forced to ask for lodging here on July 2, 1825 after a storm surge after visiting Hooge. The predominantly blue and white tiled room is a testament to the living culture of the wealthy and mostly seafaring Frisians of that time. It is lined with antique furniture and maritime gems that ocean captains tend to accumulate in the course of their busy service life. Today this room is one of the main sources of income for Hooge and makes sure that the quiet Hallig is inundated by day-trippers for around six hours every day during the season. Outside of these rush hours, the permanent guest is almost alone with the 125 Hoogers. Local history museum, Wadden Sea House and finally the exciting storm surge cinema, in which the worst floods that have broken through Hooge in recent decades can be relived again and again, round off the information on offer up here. Back to the motorcycles, we reap the amused looks of the horse-drawn carriage drivers waiting for tourists. “You definitely want to go far today,” says one of them with a broad grin. “Yes, after the end of the country,” I reply. He laughs and, thank God, doesn’t ask whether we think we can do it today. At the central wooden signpost Hooges, where the three main routes meet, the full extent of our travel area becomes clear: “To the pier 1.6 km, Westerwarft 3.5 km, Landsende 1.5 km” indicates the wooden sign. Crouching in Fireblade and Ninja, we chase past the Postwarft in the slipstream of a group of women cycling and reach the southeastern end of the Hallig. A short walk on the summer dike allows a view of the neighboring island of Pellworm. Landsende is a good entry point to explore Hooge’s western, open sea-facing side via a narrow beach. We leave our boots next to the machines and walk for a long time in the fine sand of the sea edge. The wind tousles your hair and there is an intense smell of the sea. Back against the stiff north-west breeze the whole five kilometers to the opposite end of Hooges. Ninja and Fireblade uncover horsepower by horsepower. If the sign is behind you, it helps to orientate yourself to the terps to come. Ockelutzwarft, Mitteltritt, Volkertswarft and Ipkenswarft. In addition, the red and white lighthouse on the island of Amrum, towards which the road leads directly, serves as a point of orientation. At the Ipkenswarft comes a right turn. The first. The Fireblade tips neatly into it, and we scrabble around the corner at a low angle. Perfect. Turn around and do it again, the mopeds need to run down. Then the road leads directly to the Westerwarft, another small bridge over the priel, and then we can let the bikes sink onto the stands. What a route! Only a few excursionists end up here. I climb the dike and realize that we would get to the commercial and yacht harbor and from there back to Backenswarft faster with bicycles than with over a hundred horsepower. Does not matter. On the way back we follow the alternative route from the Ockelutzwarft via the Kirchwarft. This section of the route, peppered with five curves, is probably the greatest challenge that Hooge has in store for the sporty biker. After shifting from third to fourth gear three times, the driving pleasure is over again, and I dedicate myself again to the colorful early summer meadows, the wonderful view of the broad priel and the ivy-overgrown west gable of the small Hallig church. We pay her a visit and inside discover pictures and documents of life on the Halligen. Even if they are less often flooded by storm surges today, because the terps and dykes were increased after the catastrophic storm surge from February 16 to 17, 1962 and each Hallighaus has also been given a particularly high, flood-free escape room made of concrete, the pictures of the old convey it Cemetery, over whose crosses the waves break, impressions of the elemental force. At water levels of 1.5 meters above the normal tide level, which still happens several times a year, Hooge goes “under land” and the terps become autonomous islets. The next morning I decide on a completely different means of transport and buckle up the ones I brought with me as a precaution “Roces LAX – Los Angeles” under – roller-scates of the finest kind. A few small turns and jumps to warm up on the Backenswarft and then into full inline fun. Maybe there are skate girls here in a cropped West Coast look. Under the admiring gaze of the breakfasting guests in the »Friesenpesel«, I rush down the driveway. “Skate or die!” I shout inside, turn elegantly to the left into the street, but then my left skate is torn away from me and, rolling over my right hip, I come into blunt protector contact with Hooger Asphalt. The 76 mm / 78A wheels of the inline skates apparently couldn’t build up any grip in the horse apple, which I didn’t notice – crap. I get up and experience the exploration of the Hallig on skates as pure free-flow pleasure on the almost vehicle-free streets. Only the grazing “pension cattle”, which are brought here for payment by farmers from the other islands or from the mainland, look with interest from the pastures. At the Ockelutzwarft I meet three kids from Lubeck. The guys are there with their class and otherwise take part in skate competitions, as they explain to me. However, they prefer grinding, i.e. shredding with the rail over railings, curbs and similar edges. Unfortunately they don’t have any skates with them. Finally I lend one of them my Razors for ten minutes – and then the asphalt burns. The boy does jump turns that are impressive. As an older man, I can’t keep up with that. When they are gone, I slowly roll my skates out to the old pier in the north-east of Hooges. With a lot of speed up the dike and with a jump I turn to the stop – it has to be, otherwise you inevitably end up in the water or between the rough breakwater stones on the lake side of the dike. But there is a third attractive means of transport: Klaus and I borrow two three-speed Dutch bikes at the pier. There’s a little rain in the air, so a stylish southwest is essential. But the weather stays true to us until the island port. A couple of sailing boats, small cutters and the »Annemarie« barge bob around in the low tide. From here you come to the large creek lock and the summer dike, behind which the sandy, silty tidal flats spread out due to the ebb. With the cry of seagulls we gasp against the wind up to the Westerwarft, where the rain promptly pours off. A beach chair offers asylum. Soon the sun, which is already low, breaks through the clouds again and conjures up a wonderful rainbow over the Hallig. It is our last evening on Hooge and we stop for dinner in the »Seewind« restaurant. When the sun finally sinks over Amrum, the island of Fohr and the terps of Langeness emerge in the last evening light, I decide, over Labskaus and Ducksteiner beer, that I will come back. Maybe not by motorcycle anymore. Except, it might be the first of April again.

Info – Hooge

Visiting a Hallig with a total of six kilometers of road network by motorcycle is actually an April Fool’s joke. Nevertheless, a visit to Hooge is worthwhile, as these submerged mini-islets are unique in the world. So: leave the bikes behind and roll off on a Dutch bike or skates.

Arrival: The ferries to Hooge, Langeness and Amrum leave from the small ferry port Schluttsiel, west of Flensburg. You can get there via the A7 to Schleswig or the A23 to Heide. From there it goes on to Husum and then preferably over the little streets behind the dike to Schluttsiel. The Wyker Dampfschiffs-Reederei takes over the transport there. Ferries rarely run out, it makes more sense to leave the motorcycle in the parking lot in Schluttsiel and transfer it by excursion boat. Prices: 30 marks per bike and 21.20 marks per person for the return trip. Book by phone 04681/80140 Travel time: A visit to Hooge is particularly worthwhile in the less frequented off-season. In spring and autumn, “Landunter” is also popular. Spend the night: The price level is moderate on Hooge. The majority of the accommodation options are holiday apartments and pensions. The price for the double room with breakfast is between 70 and 150 marks, with holiday apartments at the upper end of the price range. Accommodation service and tourist office: phone 04849/9100; Fax / 201; e-Mail: hooge@sh-web.de. Literature: Travel guides about North Frisia and the North Frisian Islands mostly serve the Halligen. The book “Schleswig-Holstein (Eiderstedt, Halligen, Dithmarschen)” from the Hayit edition “Useful travel tips from A – Z” for 14.80 marks is more specific. The following works are regionally and historically oriented: Theodor Voigt, Voigt-Verlag “The ten Halligen in words and images”, 10 marks; Ulli Harth »On the magic of the Halligen. Life between ebb and flow ”, 32 marks; Georg Quedens “Die Halligen”, Breklum bookstore and publisher, 10 Marks. Gunter Schirrmacher »Hallig Hooge. Land in the middle of the sea ”, also for 10 marks from Breklumer.

The north islands

Only a few of the 21 inhabited islands and Halligen off Germany’s North Sea coast can be visited by vehicle: Borkum (ferry from Emden), Norderney (from Norddeich), Hallig Langeneb, Amrum (from Schuttsiel), Fohr (from Dagebull) and Sylt ( by car train from Niebull or by ferry from the Danish city of Rom). In general, vehicles are not welcome. At St. Peter Ording or at Vejers Beach in Denmark, on the other hand, you are allowed to take a detour along the beach mile by bike. Reise Know-How’s “Vacation Guide Germany’s North Sea Islands” offers all the necessary information for 29.80 Marks.

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