North Sea hiking in winter Watt on ice

North Sea hiking in winter Watt on ice

Wattwandern is a true North Sea classic. But have you ever done such a hike through the Priele in winter? A Nordic original shows why a trip is worthwhile even in freezing cold.

Ice cold lashes the wind over the dike. Several pairs of thermo-tights and socks are barely enough to be really watt-fit and weatherproof in winter. The outside temperatures revolve around the freezing point. A little torment is probably just a part of having a typical mudflat walk in the cold season. But instead of a barefoot experience with the feet in the mud this time clearly rubber boot rule.

Johann Franzen invites to Winterwattwanderung in front of Büsum. And one thing is immediately clear: the three-promenade hike today is not for the fussy. Actually she should go four hours, but the mudflat waved off at the beginning and says that he has to shorten the tour due to the icy cold something. Therefore, the gripping and experienced mudflat leader also loses no time: “I warmly welcome you with a Dithmarscher Moin Moin. I would like to introduce myself, I am Johann Franzen, national park wadden guide and I have been here for decades on the Dithmarscher coast.”

At the beginning, Franzen has to announce the tour in Büsum by radio at a registration office, so that the authorities know which groups are traveling in the watt. Safety is the top priority. Especially when people are traveling in the mudflats, who could get lost on their own and do not find their way back to the flood in time. This danger always exists, as Franzen never tires of emphasizing. Regularly, people have to be rescued from the watt. At this initially so gray morning, one would like to believe this immediately, after all, a distance in the Watt is hardly to estimate correctly. In icy temperatures, it would be even worse to lose your bearings.

A sensitive protected area

The rubber boots splash in the mud, the wind is rough, the air is icy, the view is almost endless. How big the Wadden Sea really is becomes clear as Franzen goes into detail. “Welcome to the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park – a national park is the highest status for a nature reserve and this is the largest national park in Europe – with a size of 441,000 hectares.” A wattage is always a small learning trip.

Here we find a closed biocircuit, where up to 1.2 million microorganisms live in one cubic centimeter of Wadden Sea – microorganisms – such as plankton, bacteria and algae, and they are the basis of life for mussels, snails and worms. ” Franzen sounds a bit like a biology teacher. “These, in turn, are the food for the birdlife and from the feces of the birds, again bacteria are created,” explains the Watt Guide the cycle and goes even further into detail: “When the National Park was founded in 1985, we had a bird population of about 70 different species Today, we have more than 130 different species of birds through environmental protection and conservation. “

North Sea hiking in winter Watt on ice

In Büsum, the Wadden Sea is on the doorstep. This is recreation and possible threat at the same time. “At the front we see the skyscraper in Büsum half way up the aisle, so the heart beats a little higher – that’s just part of it.” An old frieze house behind the dike is not easy to tear off, “he says with a big grin he points to the gray colossus on the horizon. But places like Büsum must also be protected for the future.

Educate and sensitize

The state of Schleswig-Holstein spends around 300 million euros a year on coastal protection. The sea level is rising and the villages have to be prepared. You can tell the older gentleman that he has been there since 1986. He also sees the protection of the Wadden Sea Natioal Park as his personal task. To enlighten other people is obviously important to him. Franzen is also tormented by the cold and is rewarded after two hours by the gathering sun. Thus, a Winterwattwanderung also has its own charm. Especially when ice crystals shine on the ground and a unique atmosphere lies above the Wadden Sea.

Then Franzen digs up the silt with his pitchfork – as it probably does on every hike. A classic that should not be missed. But the lugworms hide from the curious onlookers. It’s probably too cold for them. This is also the sign for the Winter Wattenmeer visitors to start the return journey.