Day 1-2. Nieuweschans to Krummhörn-Upleward contd.
In the centre of Bunde we found more signs and, choosing to ignore the delights of the Dollart museum turned left and headed towards Weener. Although the landscape was very similar to the Netherlands, Bunde looked quite different to Dutch towns across the border. We were definitely in Germany now.
Not long after leaving Bunde, the inevitable happened. Rain, in the form of drizzle started falling from the not so promising grey skies. We pulled out our rain gear and put it on and carried on. By the time we arrived in Weener, the drizzle had turned into a torrential summer downpour. We contemplated finding a cafe but Weener looked like it was shut. So, instead we stood around with the locals and got wetter. The centre of Weener was quite nice, similar to towns you find in North Holland with a small harbour protected from the river by large lock gates.
We cycled past the harbour, behind the dyke towards the local riverside industrial estate. On the other side of the dyke was the lazy, meandering Ems under a brooding sky. We assumed that were going to be cycling behind a large dyke for a while. What else would we be doing on the NSCR in this part of the world? We carried on along the dyke past quadricycles for hire, which despite their colourful canopies would not tempt many people on a damp day like this. We also encountered our first sheep gates, reminding us of the ones that littered parts of the Danish NSCR. Next to one was a set of signs including one which helpfully explained that the parts of the cycle route where sheep 'grazed' were cleaned once a fortnight. In our experience where sheep graze, they also poo a lot. We hoped that we were at the beginning of a fortnightly cleaning cycle rather than the end of it.
Fortunately, the sheep gates here were quite easy to navigate in contrast to some of their Danish counterparts. This allowed us to keep a reasonably good pace as we headed north. The next village on the route was Bingum, the sort of place name you'd also expect to find in Friesland in the Netherlands. In Bingum we decided not to go into Leer, we were on a cycle tour after all. Besides, living in the Netherlands we could pop up and visit Leer at any time for a weekend.
After Bingum we headed up towards Jemgum. This took us past a large partly finished industrial park and then back along the dyke. This meant we skirted the edge of Jengum which made navigation easier. After passing a large pair of gates giving access through the dyke to the Ems, we decided it was time for an early lunch. Not a bad idea given that we'd been up since five in the morning. We cycled up onto the top of the dyke on a farmer's track, got out our three legged stools and sat there eating our sandwiches looking out over the flat coastal landscape. In the distance we could see factories and farms under the low grey sky.
After our break we carried on along the dyke, through Critzum and Hatzum to the next important stop at Ditzum. We arrived in Ditzum and followed the signs towards where the ferry across the Ems would take us to Emden. As we parked up our bikes the sunshine came out, for the first time today. We looked at the timetables, and realised that we had a half hour before the ferry left, so had ate the rest of our lunch sitting down. As we sat there we noticed an increasingly large crowd of cyclists gathering in front of a rather small ferry, together with a car and a van.
Just before one o'clock we started boarding the ferry. The ferry operator knew what he was doing and first arranged the bikes along the sides of the boat. He then managed to get the large car and the van on board before raising the ramp and heading across the Ems. Across the river we saw windmill farms with turbine blades moving gracefully in the light breeze. Looking back towards Dtizum we saw boat yards and yachts moored in the marina.