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Biggesee, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Also known as: Bigge Reservoir, Bigge Lake, Listersee

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Map: Biggesee, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Surrounded by the Ebbegebirge Nature Park, Biggesee (see = lake) is the largest reservoir in Germany's North Rhine- Westphalia region. Bigge Lake was created for water supply, flood control and water regulation, and it has become a valuable recreation resource in the heart of the Sauerland. Drawn to the lush countryside with its gently rolling hills, the area's rich history, and clean lake water, visitors are sure to find something to please the entire family at Biggesee.

Biggesee is an impoundment of the Bigge River, a tributary of the Lenne River, which makes up the lake's inflow and outflow. Construction on the dam began in 1956 and was completed in 1965. Bigge Dam is 170 feet high and almost 2,100 feet long and is used to regulate water levels on the Ruhr and Lenne Rivers. The reservoir, managed by the Ruhrverband, the Ruhr River Association, holds water until late summer, and over the fall water levels drop 16 to 33 feet to make room for snow melt and spring rain. Biggesee covers 2,165 acres and connects to the smaller Lister Reservoir to the west. Created in 1913 with the construction of the Listertalperre, Listersee is approximately three miles long and covers 415 acres.

There are two scuba diving areas in Bigge Lake, and the lake is a fantastic place to sail, windsurf, row and canoe. A beach on the lake's shore gives access to the water for swimming. Anglers can expect to find healthy populations of pike along with some record sized lake trout. Boats cruise across the lake regularly, and visitors can relax and let the boat's captain show them the sites on Biggesee, including the lake's 74-acre island, Gilberginser. The island and part of the lake's shoreline are a nature reserve created to protect the animals and wildlife that live there.

Self-catering holiday homes and vacation rentals can be found around Biggesee, as well as ample opportunities for camping. The town of Attendorn, on the northern end of the lake, has restaurants, shops and museums, and visitors can stroll the streets past charming historic buildings. The Atta Cave is Germany's largest "dripstone" cave and the largest interconnected cave system in the country. A 262-foot long gallery leads visitors to view the stalactites and stalagmites in this very accessible cave. A tram runs regularly between the cave and Bigge Dam. On the southern end of the lake, the town of Drolshagen has several miles of trails for hiking and biking leading out into the rolling hills.

Bigge Dam is one of nine dams in the Ruhr area and the Naturpark Ebbegebirge. The resultant reservoirs created for water supply and hydroelectric power generation have become important resources for recreation. Along with the thousands of acres of water for boating, fishing and windsurfing, the Ebbegebirge Nature Park includes beautiful historic buildings including a few castles. The park is also home to a museum housing the oldest surviving charcoal blast furnace in Western Europe.

Visitors can alternate days spent playing on the water of Biggesee with daytrips, either by car or on foot, into the countryside to explore the history of the region. Dinner at one of the area's restaurants, followed by a restful night at one of many holiday cottages, rejuvenates visitors for the next day's activities. With something for everyone, Bigge Lake is sure to become a family favorite and a destination to return to over and over.

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