Hallig Hooge – A Tiny German North Sea Island
Posted on December 28, 2016
Just a few miles from shore in the Wattenmeer is a small Hallig (the name given to an island unprotected by a surrounding dike), inhabited by about 120 residents and often inundated during vicious winter storms. Blessed with keen survival instincts, the locals have learned how to cope with the realities of bad weather. On this tiny Hallig, just about a mile wide and two miles long, dwellings, barns, a store and a church have been sited on mounds of earth (called Warften), built up by man’s labor over the centuries, along with dikes, to ward off the dangers of inundating water. If you ever want to get away from it all, this is a good place to go. It’s Eva and Suzi’s third visit and they insist that I join them this year.
As this is the last stop on our three month vacation, we turn our car in in Hamburg and catch a train and bus to the ferry landing.
Tourists are met at the ferry landing by horse-drawn covered wagons which take them to one or another Warft where tourists spend the day. For us, our hostess picked us up in her SUV. Tourists are not allowed to bring their car, but residents usually have one.
Many herds of cattle are brought over from the mainland to feast on summer meadows. Calves as well as lambs are born here. The cattle return to the mainland before winter. Occasionally they are caught by an early flood and are driven up to the Warften for protection.
We walk 15 minutes to the grocery store every day or two for bread that is baked on site, and for fresh veggies and meats. They carry everything we need at mainland prices. And the clerks are so nice, too.
One of the main attractions that is almost unique to this area is the effect of the daily tides. When the tide is in, we see a number of islands in the area. But when the tide is out, the water drains away and it is often possible to walk the mile or so to the next island (with a guide). Young folks, old folks, everybody does it. Suzi and Eva have a ball on the four hour outing.
One of the fine attractions of Hallig Hooge is the abundance of birds. They flock here by the millions during the migration seasons and some are yearlong residents, such as oystercatchers, terns and ducks.
One day there is the annual fair at the tiny yacht harbor, with lots to eat and drink and a variety of children’s games, along with yacht racing.
One Warft has the store and a museum, others have restaurants. One has only a church and cemetery.
We have had sunny days, cool days, rainy days and many great sunsets. And we have almost worn out our shoes walking the endless roads and paths through and around the Hallig. Now it’s time to say Auf Wiedersehen.