Look a map! Let’s get oriented: the big lake south of Lübeck is the Ratzeburger-see and the blotchy red bit across the bottom of that lake is Ratzeburg, where we were staying. Actually there’s the Ratzeburger-see, the Dom-see (Cathedral Lake), the Küchensee and the Kleiner Küchensee, but they’re all linked so who’s quibbling? Ratzeburg straddles both banks of the lake(s) and also an island in the lake which is connected to both banks by causeways. Another glance at the map will reveal that the area is riddled with lakes of various sizes.
My aunt and uncle have lived in Ratzeburg for as long as I can remember and my cousins grew up there. Swimming in the lakes has always been a prominent feature of our visits over the years. This trip was no exception.
Here’s Little S in the Pipersee..
My brother and his family had driven up from Switzerland in their campervan, en route to a holiday in Denmark, and were camped by this lake.
Actually, that day we were a big family party, with three of my cousins and their families and a couple of sets of aunts and uncles with us too. A gaggle of us, of various ages, swam well out into the lake.
…is from an evening visit to Garrensee.
And this is the kids walking through the woods for an early visit to the same venue…
It was our favourite swimming spot. Perhaps you can see why.
Through the summer months my uncle, now in his eighties, cycles here for a swim most mornings. We were never early enough to catch him, but he did join us, along with my aunt, for a later swim one day.
My first visit here was during the hot summer of 1976, when I was a bit younger than Little S is now. We spent a day here. I remember a snake swimming on the water; unsuccessful attempts to build a raft of sticks and my cousin K, whose house we were borrowing this summer, briefly going missing, until we realised that she had swum across the lake (I think she would have been around 5 at the time). TBH saw a snake here this summer – it was when she was running around the lake, whilst the rest of the family were swimming.
I’m pleased to say that the kids loved Garrensee, but the Ratzeburger-see had its own attractions…
This was an evening swim, when the sky turned a bit threatening as the sun set…
We also swam one more time in the Küchensee, in a spot with which I am very familiar. It’s close to where my aunt and uncle live and, when we visited, I used to love getting up early with my uncle to walk down the hill, past the hospital where he worked, for an early morning dip.
During one of our visits to the Garrensee I got chatting to another swimmer. After he had, rather inevitably, asked about Brexit, he told me that he lives in Hamburg and that all of his Hamburg friends would head to the Baltic coast if the they had a day off and the sun was shining, but he comes here instead.
“My friends from Hamburg don’t know about this place, how did you find it?”
Apparently there are 40 lakes in total in the Lauenburg Lakes Nature Park, maybe someday I’ll come back and swim in them all.