The first section of our walk took us along the busy road from Waidmannslust S-Bahn station and into Hermsdorf, past garden centres and discounter supermarkets, a couple of rough and ready corner pubs and an organic grocers, before we ducked through the railings where the Tegeler Fließ passes beneath the main road and within a handful of footsteps we had left the traffic behind and were left only with the sound of birds singing in the trees. We had been here before, a few months ago in fact, when it looked as if spring was upon us as we explored the old village of Hermsdorf before picking up the trail down by the river, but this time we really had moved beyond winter, and our walk would take us further as well.
We made our way alongside the Hermsdorfer See before the path became a wooden walkway along the bottom of pleasant gardens, raised on stilts above the soggy bog of the wetlands that spread out from the river bank in either direction. Here the Tegeler Fließ is two things… it is incredibly bendy, twisting this way and that, and it also happens to be the border between Berlin and Brandenburg. From the division of Germany after the Second World War until the events of 1989 and the reunification of 1990 this was an international border, although the planners building the Berlin Wall obviously did not fancy doing battle with the swamp and so set their fortifications further to the north, which left one bank of the river and its wetlands technically part of the German Democratic Republic, but sitting on the West Berlin side of the concrete and barbed wire barrier.
There was no remaining sign of this structure as we crossed the fields towards Lübars, a genuine village complete with church, village hall and riding school that is somehow still within Berlin’s city limits. Instead we used the wide open spaces on either side of the river to spot some birdlife, from a regal, hovering buzzard, to swooping swallows, a darting reed bunting, and numerous hooded crows that looked as if they were up to no good. On the other side of Lübars we reached the Berlin Wall Trail. It was at this point that the border made its way south, to no longer divide West Berlin from its hinterland, but to split the city itself. Not that you would know it, walking along a neatly paved track with fields on either side, and the sound of yellowhammers singing in the trees.
On the cobbled streets of Rosenthal, admiring the (sometimes-) crumbling red brick buildings and elegant church, we brought our walk to an end at the end of the M1 tram line. It seemed somewhat strange to find this tramline here, one which I have used throughout my years in Berlin to take me to and from Rosenthaler Platz, Zionskirchplatz, Bornholmer Straße or the gates of the Prater Biergarten… but fate had decided I was not to be returned to my familiar corners of Berlin that easily, as roadworks meant we had to take a replacement bus as far as Pankow before we could pick up the tram that I know so well. It was another day wandering Berlin, starting and ending with something familiar, and yet with plenty of new discoveries along the way.
Words & Pictures: Paul Scraton