Returning to the Harz Mountains we breathed in the chill, icy and clean air.
At 600 metres Bertha made easy progress along the snow-ploughed mountain roads and we enjoyed the panoramic views of forested hillsides as we startled grazing fallow deer and hooted cheerily at hunting hawks circling high above us.
The Harz Mountains are a magical gem. They cover three old German Saxon states and are alive with fairy tales and superstitions of witches on broomsticks and Faust’s pact with the devil.
Wild Lynx live in the forest and the beautiful coloured half-timbered towns were home to the imperial Emperors, remembered in gilded glory standing on the terracotta painted walls of Goslar’s stunning Kaiser Palace.
We climbed the 60 meters up inside the 12th century bell-tower to enjoy the views of snowy streets winding out from the Markt Platz.
The rooflines had frosted slate cupolas and dove-cotes and chimneys poured woodsmoke into the air. We were defeated by the howling Easterly pouring down the side of the Brocken, North Germany’s highest mountain towering over Goslar.
More than 500 castles or ‘Schloss’ have been fought over, raised to the ground and rebuilt in the surrounding hillsides. The mountains divided former East and West Germany and have a dark history.
Previously we have driven through the dark forested roads crossing single rail tracks to the little-signed town of Mittelbau. There we had climbed deep down into the heart of the Mountain Dora to see the remains of the Nazis’ B52 war factory.
The bombs that wreaked havoc during the Blitz were built by thousands of people brought in rail wagons from Poland and further East to work and die in the mountain without warmth, food, light or air. It was a truly terrifying experience which we did not wish to repeat. Evil in the heart of a mountain.
We settled for the night alongside the frozen ‘See’ at Viennenburg and ignored the eerie possibilities of the snowy woodland alongside us.
The morning brought -4 degrees and snow. Bertha was cheery though with bread rolls baking in the oven and fresh coffee brewing on her stove. A ‘gaslow moment’ worth the cost of the LPG system we forked out for to fill up cheaply with gas in Europe!