Frog in the Birgel Forest, © Naturpark Schwalm-Nette

By the wa­ter’s edge

Nature park Schwalm-Nette

Are you an early riser? Get out your wellies and set out to the Schwalm-Nette nature park then, where a particularly beautiful atmosphere is waiting for you in the early hours of the morning, when a slight mist is still lingering over the “wandering water world” landscape in the German-Dutch border region. It may even feel a bit mysterious. Of course, there will be plenty to experience later in the day along the Lower Rhine for anyone who likes to sleep in a bit before setting out on a hike or bicycle tour.

While the region may not have any tall mountains on offer, it does have plenty of water with hundreds of dragonflies buzzing along on sunny days. Rivers such as the Schwalm, Rur, Niers, and Nette as well as some small lakes and streams are crisscrossing the Schwalm-Nette nature park, with its landscape characterised by primeval-like forests, gnarly willows, and pretty heather. Many rare animals and plants come here for “shelter”. The curious and attentive may spot a moor frog hopping across their paths here and there or discover a newt or sand lizard somewhere in the swamp. Here’s a piece of advice from us: keep an eye on the mosquitoes, too... They also feel particularly at home on the waterside.

Water views

You will be able to get very close to the water birds - even without getting your feet wet - from one of the more than 20 “water views” that afford particularly beautiful views of the wetlands and moorland landscapes. They can be spotted easily by the blue floor plates on the ground. Take along your smartphone if you want to learn more about the region’s special features as well as enjoying the view. Vantage points like the Elmpter Schwalmbruch or the Galgenvenn offer information to be accessed by QR code.

Being quite flat, as mentioned above, this region can be explored very well on foot and in prime quality. Nine premium hiking trails are meandering through the Schwalm-Nette nature park. They do offer a bit of a challenge, however: Depending on your precise whereabouts, tours on the Nette-Seen-Runde or in the Birgeler Urwald may last the entire day. There are, of course, also some shorter walking trails that will never take you out of sight of the water. They pass by some historical mills typical of the lowlands of the Lower Rhine. Where there is water, there is usually also some wind. Three windmills and 14 water mills have been preserved, offering nice spots to stop and spend the night today.

A mobile forest laboratory

It goes without saying that care is advised on a trip through the Schwalm-Nette nature park. Do not veer from the marked paths to avoid disturbing the animals and plants here. The “mobile forest laboratory” ensures that even the youngest visitors can learn about the importance of nature for us humans – rather than the other way round – in the spirit of education for sustainable development. The mobile trolley with all sorts of “research materials” such as magnifying glasses and tweezers, can be borrowed from the Naturparkzentrum Wachtendonk.

  • Hiker in the Schwalm-Nette Nature Park, © Naturpark Schwalm-Nette
    Dragonfly at the Schwalmbruch in the Schwalm-Nette Nature Park, © Naturpark Schwalm-Nette
    Grey heron in the Schwalm-Nette Nature Park, © Naturpark Schwalm-Nette
  • Walking along the river in the Schwalm-Nette Nature Park, © Naturpark Schwalm-Nette
    Signpost of the Galgenvenn premium hiking trail, © Naturpark Schwalm-Nette
    Bird in the Schwalm-Nette Nature Park, © Naturpark Schwalm-Nette

Jew­el on the Lower Rhine

Portrait Anke Schöps
Ideas for ex­cur­sions in the sur­round­ings? In­s­tagram tip by Anke Schöps @moosearoundtheworld
Lighthouse on the Niers in Wachtendonk, © Anke Schöps

"For me, nature park Schwalm-Nette is a jewel on the Lower Rhine. Varied, seemingly untouched landscapes that are ideal for small and larger hikes! My tip: The Niers hiking trail around Wachtendonk, on which you also pass perhaps the smallest lighthouse in North Rhine-Westphalia."