In 1705, JS Bach walked 250 miles from Arnstadt to Lübeck in search of inspiration. Follow in his footsteps now and there are mountains, beech woods and curious relics of the cold war to discover

There is no better way to come close to a country than walking across it, for at some point in your journey there will be a moment when the place seems suddenly and wonderfully exposed. It happened to me in Germany, on a freezing winter dusk high on the summit of Brocken, the peak of the Harz mountains between Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. The mountains were adrift in mist. Steam trains hooted like mournful ghosts and the pines were coldly sombre, deserted but for ravens.

The Harz are deeply haunted. During the second world war, Wernher von Braun visited the facility, making his V2 rockets in a mine here. He was appalled by the conditions of the slave labourers working inside but asked only that production be increased. Many thousands of the labourers died in the tunnels. Brocken was also a Soviet and, later, Stasi spy base and listening post. It also holds a place in German literature as the site of a feast of witches in Goethe’s Faust, so all the trails are marked with pointy-hatted figures on broomsticks. There seemed to be phantoms on every side.

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Source: The Guardian

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