Wietze: Hornbosteler Hutweide nature reserve
Experience nature in a historic landscape: wild horses and Heck cattle on Hornbosteler Hutweide
The Aller cycle path leads you directly past an attraction that is unique in this form in the district of Celle.
A special natural kingdom
Hornbostel on the Aller has a special "natural kingdom": the pasture on which the villagers have kept their cattle for centuries. The magical parkland with old, stately oaks in the meadow pasture, woodlands, heaths and juniper groves is today home to white storks and dragonflies, wild pansies and flowering rushes.
After the withdrawal of traditional livestock, some wild horses and a herd of Heck cattle have been cultivating the reserve since 2009. The 75-hectare grazing project financed by the state of Lower Saxony and the EU supports regional efforts to preserve the ecologically valuable pasture. The new wilderness invites you to enjoy an exciting experience of nature.
There are more reasons for preserving the last typical pasture landscape in the district Celle than its function as an idyllic excursion area and for reasons of species and biotope protection. The pasture area in the lowlands of the River Aller is also significant from the viewpoint of local history and cultural history.
Grazing pasture under threat
The village of Hornbostel has just remaining dairy farm that is no longer able to graze the pasture in the traditional manner. However, the heath changes wherever animals no longer graze:
• Rare species of plants and animals disappear (such as the white stork)
• Juniper heaths give in to the competition of other trees
• Non-native plants take a hold
Protection for the pasture
Large parts of the Aller lowlands and thus the Hornbosteler Hutweide today carry the predicate "Natura 2000" area awarded by the European Fauna Flora Habitat (FFH) Directive. Special forms of oak forests and juniper stocks are considered European natural heritage, as are species such as otters and white storks. Since 2004, 176 hectares of pasture land has been designated as a nature reserve. The grazing project is a logical step towards achieving the permanent protection of the pasture and a uniquely natural experience.
One of Europe's most beautiful dragonflies, the Green Hawker, is at home here. The species threatened by extinction can be observed here from mid-July to September, especially in the evening when hunting.
The white stork pair that broods every year in the village of Hornbostel finds food for its offspring on the adjacent pastures. The nest on the "Heidebäckerei" bakery on Helene-Segelke-Platz has been regularly occupied in recent years. In some years the first storks return to the numerous stork nests in the Aller-Leine valley after the winter as early as February / March. Storks and their way of life are best observed in the months of April - July.
Heck cattle and Przewalski horses have maintained the Hornbosteler Hut pasture naturally and cost-effectively since taking up their work in 2009. They are robust grazing animals with a particular suitability for the year-round field service that share the work: depending on the season, they eat grass or leaves, bark and delicate twigs. Some trees, however, defend themselves with thorns (such as the blackthorn) and thus protect young oaks. Thus, the pasture landscape remains varied and open. A local farmer has taken on the task of caring for the animals on two fenced paddocks.
On the trail of the aurochs
Heck cattle are a breed of 15 cattle breeds in the image of the Aurochs that died out almost 300 years ago. Significantly smaller and with shorter legs and thinner horns with less of an inward curve, Heck cattle are just as tough as its ancestor, the aurochs. These animals are ideal for year-round use in the grazing project on the Aller. And the herd evidently feels at home here, given the abundant numbers of offspring.
Wild horses with standing manes
In 2009, real wild horses arrived on the Hornbosteler Hut pasture in the shape of Przewalski horses (pronounced "Pshevalski") - according to the researchers, it is the last horse breed that was never domesticated.
Przewalski horses are considered the ideal cast for year-round grazing on Hornbosteler Hutweide. Even in snowy winters they scratch the ground with their hooves in search of food.
By car / on foot: park at Helene-Segelke-Platz in Hornbostel village centre. Follow Dorfstrasse and then Schleusenweg towards Bannetze lock. You will find an information board (about the Aller cycle path) with details about the pasture area. The lock provides an excellent upstream view of the pasture land.
By bike: The Aller cycle path takes you next to the pasture between Bannetze lock and the juniper tree park. You can get to Bannetze lock by cycling from Hornbostel / Helene-Segelke-Platz on the village road, taking a left turn into Schleusenweg and then following it following towards Bannetze lock.
Hiking on Hornbosteler Hutweide: There is currently no signposted circular route. However, there are some options for hiking through the nature reserve of Hornbosteler Hutweide:
• Guided nature hikes take place on selected dates (usually April to October), during which you can complete a full circle of the pasture. Parts of these guided tours lead through the reserve on unpaved paths which may otherwise not be used. (Please pay attention to the announcements in our event calendar)
• Suggestion for an unmarked circular walk (about 6 km) from / to the car park at Helene-Segelke-Platz in Hornbostel: eastwards on Dorfstrasse-Schleusenweg-Bannetze lock-Aller cycle path to the weather hut / rest area / viewpoint - continue on the Aller cycle path through Hutewald – take the turn-off to Blaue Brücke (cul-de-sac) to the Aller – continue on the Aller cycle path to the forest edge - turn right (field track) – turn left onto Wendtchaussee – turn left again and follow Dorfstrasse back to the car park.