Our efforts of the last few days put us within easy distance of Trippstadt today – we only had 20 km to go. We headed out of Hochspeyer and were immediately confronted with a 4 km hill. Knowing that the hill comprised 20% of our total journey for the day took the edge off it however, and we cheerfully ground up to the top of a lovely forested ridge.
The ridge went around a big basin with Trippstadt at the other end of it, and we enjoyed rolling through the trees with a forest vista occasionally opening up to our left. We were struck with the size of the forest, in our experience you just don’t see miles of unbroken woodland in the UK. We were a bit sad to see a tiny bat dead at the side of the road, we took some photos in case it had white-nose fungus (link), but I don’t think it did. I guess it got hit by a car. We also saw the remains of a bad car accident with skidmarks off the road up a steep bank, and then a bit of road with murky brown stains; the entirety colourfully marked out with police spray paint. It makes you feel extra vulnerable on the bike when you see that stuff and think what would happen if you were in the way of it when it happened!
We climbed one final hill to the outskirts of Trippstadt, and since we were early for our meeting with the Project Team, we settled down at a bench and table under a spreading oak tree for some lunch and a read. I was reading Kith, a book about childhood by Jay Griffiths, working my way through some particularly horrendous accounts of bad parenting, when a landrover pulled up, and a khaki-covered guy jumped out. ”Anna and Dave?” This is becoming a common occurrence for us! The guy turned out to be Michael, one of the Project employees. He was on his way home to get some sleep before going on a night-time red deer count in the forest. We had a nice chat and he welcomed us to town before heading off. We decided we should just go along and see who was in at the Project.
We rolled up to the address we’d been given, which turned out to be a rather grand castle, reminiscent of the Swiss National Park offices. Not sure what it is with all these stately homes containing rewilding projects! Sylvia welcomed us in, and we spoke briefly about the project before a local journalist arrived to ask us some questions about our trip. I think we were a little more coherent this time; we’ll soon be media-savvy rewilding spokespersons if this continues! All good for the UK rewilding revolution!
Julian, our contact at the project, arrived a little later, he’s just come back from a holiday and came straight to the office to welcome us. Dedication! We are also staying at his place while we’re in Trippstadt, thanks Julian! We jumped on the bikes and followed him back to his apartment. There we met housemate Marten and Marten’s friend Konrad. We had a lovely evening eating dinner round the kitchen table. I’m afraid I might have bored Marten and Konrad with my garbled ranting about British politics; Anna just isn’t interested in that stuff, so those poor guys got everything I’ve been saving up since the General Election in May!
We eventually settled down on the sofabed at about midnight and got some sleep ready to help out at the project tomorrow.