The Lippe floodplain nature experience
From motorway on water to green oasis
Watch wildlife from observation points, cross the river on the Lippe ferry or simply relax and enjoy the green oasis of the Lippe floodplain!
The floodplain landscape of the Lippe river, which snakes along the borders of the NRW regions of the Ruhr Area, Münsterland and Sauerland, is a true paradise for nature-lovers. This landscape which was once tamed by man is being allowed to revert to its natural state. The return of the floodplain has meant the return of plants and animals to their natural habitat while also providing many recreation opportunities for visitors.
A few decades ago, large sections of the Lippe resembled a kind of motorway on water: a quick way to get from A to B, but steering a sterile and featureless course between dead-straight embankments. For canoeists, the monotony would have made it hard to pinpoint exactly where they were paddling along this 200-kilometre-long tributary of the Rhine. In the 1970s, a 16-metre high dyke was built to keep the Lippe firmly in its place. A few years later, technical improvement works were completed, which more or less transformed the Lippe into a canal with very few of the natural features of a river remaining.
Back to nature
Fast forward to today and it is clear that life has returned to some sections of the Lippe. Trees are growing in and beside the water, and sandbanks, islands and wet meadows have started to form. From April or May on, walkers can again hear tree frogs croaking at twilight, or white storks clattering by the river. Over the past 20 or so years, the river along with its floodplain and small tributaries has been reverting to its natural state. This has been made possible thanks to a number of exemplary projects. One example was the removal of man-made embankments and stone edging between Hamm and the districts of Warendorf and Soest, which re-introduced a natural loop in the straightened course of the river. Ponds, flood channels and alluvial forests have once again made the river banks attractive to various species of animals and plants – and of course to human visitors. The river has been given a new lease of life as part of the floodplain nature experience project.
Between Lippstadt and Vellinghausen, the floodplain of the Lippe and the adjoining riverine meadows of the Ahse have been transformed into a natural recreation area. Attractive floodplain habitats with bodies of water and wetlands have been developed at eleven locations, as well as observation and resting points for walkers, hikers and cyclists. Several different species of birds can be spotted on the floodplain, with migratory geese using it as breeding and stop-over grounds. Several amphibians have also found a new habitat here in former drainage ditches, which have been blocked to form reed-filled swamps and ponds. Small tributary streams are flowing through the floodplain again in places, creating natural wetlands up until the summer months. Observation points and hides provide excellent views for wildlife spotters, and information boards are spaced along the paths to tell visitors more about the landscape and its inhabitants. A cycling map provides a useful guide for visitors on two wheels.
Crossing the river on the Lippe ferry
One experience not to be missed is a ride on the Lupia Lippe ferry, which has been transporting walkers, hikers and cyclists safely across the river since 2013. Located near Oberwerries Castle, it connects the southern (city of Hamm) and northern banks of the Lippe (district of Warendorf). Intending passengers will require a bit of muscle for this crossing, as well as a companion: for safety reasons, the ferry must be used by at least two people at a time. It works with a chain mechanism, which passengers are obliged to heave with all their might. Up to six people and their bikes can make the crossing to the opposite shore – completely free of charge.
Lupia Lippe ferry:
Daily from April to October, except during night hours and when the river is in flood.