Eight questions for...

Beate Blahy, park ranger in Grumsin forest

When I visit the World Heritage Site of Grumsin, what should I definitely not miss?

If you visit a natural World Heritage Site then you can't expect nature to deliver its wonders on cue. At the same time you really won't miss anything, because if you visit Grumsin you will always find something special. A great concert by a robin, for instance. If you come at the right time you will be able to enjoy a carpet of woodruff in bloom on both sides of the paths, or you get to see a red helleborine, a strictly protected rare orchid.

What do you particularly like here?

The tranquility, the solitude, the high leafy canopy of the beech trees and the numerous marshes and swamps. This forest offers ever-changing pictures in a small area. Quiet ramblers will find their paths often and unexpectedly crossed by the forest's natural residents - a family of cranes, or a black woodpecker busily working some dead tree or even a white-tailed sea-eagle circling high up in the sky. That is marvelous.

Do you have an insider tip?

Well it's not a secret, but it is still special; in May the cotton grass on the moors is in bloom and it covers all with its white fluffy tufts flowing over the green grass. That is an extraordinarily beautiful sight. This phenomenon can easily be seen on the rambling path from Groß Ziethen to Altkünkendorf, to the right of the path on an extensive alder and beech moor.

What impressed you most during your first visit here?

The ever-changing ground in Grumsin. You rarely get to move straight, it's always up and down. This landscape formation was left by the glaciers of the last Ice Age. They were very active here and compressed the ground into hills and grooves. And there is water in every groove - a moor, a brook, a lake.

Which time of the year is the most attractive here?

Fall and spring, when the beech foliage drives out new leaves. Then the pale, delicate green of the leaves is so present and overwhelming that it creates elation among visitors. Hiking through the spring green beech forest is so good for the soul that it's something you can happily do on your own – to truly savor it. A big advantage is also that there aren't any mosquitoes then yet. And in fall the leaves of the beeches turn the forest into a color-maelstrom of gold and shades of rust and red.

What else should I see here?

The villages in the area reveal a lot of the history of the landscape. Many churches from the 13th century were built using boulders, a remnant from the last Ice Age, as were other impressive functional buildings, like barns and stables. What might irritate motorists is also part of our World Heritage: our old cobblestone roads. They have been around for several hundred years and can be kept in good condition with small repairs - that is the sustainability in everyday life here. My particular recommendation is to visit the lovingly restored town of Angermünde.

Visiting World Heritage Sites means working up an appetite. What regional specialty should I try?

I recommend going to the Speicherstube in Kerkow, to the north of Angermünde. The farmer's market just by the turn off to Görlsdorf offers a broad range of regional specialties and on the upper floor you can eat first rate food: there is meat from rare cattle species like the German saddleback pig or the German Angus cattle. Local cheese and bread specialties also round off what's on offer.

And which World Heritage Site would you like to see one day?

That would be the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. I have seen them a couple of time on television and I was always deeply impressed by this natural phenomenon. I would very much like to see that with my own eyes.

Beate Blahy

has been a ranger in the Schorfheide-Chorin biosphere reserve since 1991.

Among other duties, she is responsible for the protection of the natural World Heritage Site of Grumsin beech forest. The veterinary was born and grew up in Bad Freienwalde on the Oder, close to the German-Polish border.