A lush oasis offering 1000 hectares of greenery to explore, Bucher Forst is home to woodlands, meadows, lakes and marshes all accessible via well-maintained, dog-friendly footpaths. The starting point for your countryside stroll is the town of Buch, 14km from Berlin’s center. This part of northern Pankow is known not for its nature, but its historic sanitoriums. Built between 1900 and 1920, the hospitals once made up one of the biggest medical sites in Europe and feature architecture from famed municipal planner Ludwig Hoffmann that survives to this day. A 20 minute walk from Berlin Buch station brings you to the forest’s main entrance – from there you can take any path you like for a short stroll or even an all-day hike through woodland that extends well into Brandenburg.
Part of Naturpark Barnim conservation area, Buch is home to 360 species of ferns and 66 species of breeding birds, and if you are lucky you might even spot highland cattle and Konik horses grazing the fields. For an alternative starting point, head straight from the village to the Bogensee lake (around 30 minutes on foot), which actually comprises three bodies of water that are home to water fowl, grey herons and, on summer evenings, bats. After some birdwatching on the viewing platform – where you will find a handy pictorial guide to the local ornithology – you can continue on a short loop around the lakes that brings you to the northern part of the forest where endless leafy footpaths await. Oh, and before you head back to the city, take a walk or drive past the former clinic buildings for a glimpse at Hoffmann’s majestic pavilions and columns. It’s the ideal way to wrap up a day of fresh air and tranquility.
Text: Benji Haughton / Photos: Savannah van der Niet