The closest bit of Germany to the coast – so the closest to the UK. What’s the riding like? Surprising...
We roll off the ferry at the Hook of Holland after Europe’s most expensive breakfast. It was necessary, though... we’re not stopping. Traffic builds quickly and we have to filter round the Rotterdam ring road, but thankfully it clears as we head for Utrecht and then Germany. This is all motorway - the fastest way to get clear of the coastal flatlands.
“I had wondered if I’d spot when we entered Germany,” says photographer Weeble when we’re filling up. “But I did. Suddenly we were cruising 30mph faster...” There’s a simple pleasure in a de-restricted autobahn: sit there just shy of the stop, gobbling up distance, with one eye on the mirrors for looming Mercedes and seven-series Beemers that make our bannable-in-Britain pace look like a schoolboy dawdling on the way to class.
Before too long we’re off the motorway, skirting the edge of Leverkusen and heading into the hills. This is the kind of riding we came here to find - and it’s within three easy hours of the port. Broad, twisty, tree-lined roads clambering through gently rolling countryside. When the road straightens for flatter bits, fields of wheat stubble or pumpkins appear - but this is a hilly area and soon the trees close in again.
We wander cross-country to Möhnesee - specifically to the giant Möhne dam so famously flattened by 617 Squadron with their bouncing bombs in the Second World War. The dam has been rebuilt and there are cafés and busy watersports centres up top, beside the huge lake. But we’re at the base of the dam, marvelling up at the huge wall with its two distinctive towers. It's a wonder of engineering — and well worth its place in any Germany trip.
We press on, our route knitted from wide-open, flowing roads. Even though there are a few overtakes to make between the villages, it doesn’t feel like there are too many cars. Then we turn onto the L776 to Bad Fredeburg, then the B511 – and the riding goes up a gear each time. There’s a clue at the first corner, as a guy on a sportsbike comes the other way, knee inches from the deck; he’s followed by a mate on a Triumph 675 with his knee firmly down. This is a playground - but it’s still relatively quiet and it’s brilliant.
The road rises like bread in an oven, the heat of the day glossing the distant hills with a hazy shimmer - not that there’s much time to admire the views. They’re huge, but so are the corners... long sweepers giving way to tighter bends and the occasional graceful 90° turn or broad hairpin.
This is the real deal - miles of it all the way to Winterburg and on, until we pick up the road to Paderborn. “It wasn’t what I was expecting Northern Germany to be like,” says Weeble. “Less traffic, more countryside. Good here, innit?”