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Germany’s lake district laid bare: nude bathing near Berlin

For Andrew Eames the Mecklenburg lakes near Berlin offer peace and beauty – and the chance to take up the locals’ nude bathing habit

In the late 19th century, a certain H M Doughty, an East Anglian aristocrat, set off in his Norfolk wherry, along with his family, his butler, captain and pilot, to sail “through the Mecklenburg lakes to Bohemia”. In those days the journey sounded improbably romantic, and he believed he was the first Englishman to explore a European lake system that was far, far larger than anything that could be found on home shores.

H M Doughty’s book, Our Wherry in Wendish Lands, is still in print. In fact its German edition was prominently displayed in the booking office at Hafendorf Müritz, where we (the Eames family: two adults, two teenagers, no butlers) picked up our boat for that very same lake system. And for several days thereafter we found ourselves unwittingly following his route, comparing our experiences with his. His book was illustrated by his daughters, but when I suggested to Rhena, 13, that she might put pencil to paper for this article, the answer was uncompromisingly teenager-enfranchised. Her plan was to lie in her bikini on the cabin cruiser’s roof, and her iPod required all her attention.

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