With each turn off the road dropped a category, from autobahn to overland street, to village lane, to dirt track. We were invited to a cabin on the edge of the forest, for a summer party around an open fire even if it was punctuated with bursts of rain. We stole the only solid dry hour of the afternoon to take a walk in the woods, following one of our hosts along the trails between the birch and pine trees, whilst the kids picked their way through the trees and the undergrowth. We were penetrating just a little way into the Schorfheide, one of Germany’s largest forests and part of the UNESCO-protected Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere, that starts about fifty kilometres north of the Berlin city limits.
Most of the small cabins on the edge of the forest are weekend retreats, shaded by the trees. On a Saturday afternoon in July most of the cabins and gardens are occupied, but on the walk we hardly see a soul. Not far away there is a game reserve, and this forest was a popular hunting spot for high-ranking members of both the Nazi- and the GDR- regimes. We don’t see anything more than ants and ladybirds, although there are wild boar and deer leaving nearby, and apparently at night it is possible to hear the wolves howl beneath the trees.
Words & Pictures: Paul Scraton