A Journey for Friendship


In order to strengthen the bonds of friendship between Hanover and Lower Saxony, we are setting out on a nine-month journey by boat: From Hanover, we will row across Lower Saxony on the Leine, Aller and Weser rivers to the North Sea and then sail to Great Britain. On board we have a 200-litre barrel of HANNOVER GIN – BRITISH CONNECTION with herbs from Great Britain and Hanover. And above all, we have many volunteers on board, in the harbours and in the escort boats, with whom we want to talk, cook and exchange ideas. In other words: with whom we want to create European friendships together.

The HANNOVER Spirit of Lower Saxony was christened on 16 October 2021 on the River Leine in Hanover’s city centre in the presence of Mayor Thomas Hermann and Henry Prince of Hanover, Royal Prince of Great Britain and Ireland, and launched immediately afterwards. The press reported extensively nationally and internationally, including in Stern, TAZ, The Sunday Telegraph, ZEIT Online, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung.

From March 2022, we will leave our winter quarters and sail through Lower Saxony, European and British waters to London. There, from 14 to 22 June, we will be located on the Thames in the heart of the city as economic and culinary ambassadors from Hanover and Lower Saxony. And there we will invite to exchanges and meetings for art, culture, crafts, economy and society. Afterwards, accompanied by many people and boats, we continue up the Thames to Bristol, Hanover’s twin city since 1947.

The gin on board is a liquid and tasty symbol of the friendship between the two countries – composed of self-picked herbs and plants from Great Britain and from Hanover and Lower Saxony. The gin matures in its barrel on this unique journey to an incomparable pleasure. This is what Lower Saxon-British friendship tastes like.

The initiative - non-profit and voluntary

The initiator of the project is Joerma Biernath, gardener, gin lover and chairman of the association Spirit of Niedersachsen e.V., with his team and many temporary supporters. All people work on a voluntary basis and free of charge. WAY TO BRISTOL is a non-profit action of the registered association Spirit of Niedersachsen e.V..

The trip offers several points of contact for families, for sailors, for gin and herb connoisseurs, for Britons and Lower Saxony and for everyone else who is committed to Lower Saxony-German friendship. For example, throughout the journey along the Lower Saxon and British shores we will collect wild plants (foraging) and prepare dishes from them over an open fire.

On the boat there is the possibility to travel and work along in stages. You are welcome to accompany the boat on the canals, waterways and rivers with your own boats. The events and activities at the stations invite you to come along, make contacts and get involved yourself. The WAY TO BRISTOL team is looking forward to ideas and impulses for typical local actions and activities by Britons and Germans.

Why a gin barrel?

Counter question: Why not? More unites us than divides us. Botany also symbolises this: What grows here in Lower Saxony differs only in nuances from what makes England green. Over the past few years, people from the United Kingdom, from the south of England to Scotland, have put a wide variety of aromatic herbs from their front gardens or from the countryside into an envelope and sent them to Hannover Gin. We combined these herbs with other greenery such as from the Eilenriede, Europe’s largest city forest, as well as from the gardens and landscapes of the region. As a gardener with over 70 years of botanical family knowledge, I and my team distilled a German-British gin by hand in small batches in the copper distillery in Hanover: this is how the HANNOVER GIN-BRITISH CONNECTION was created, a liquid sign of lived connection.

By the way, our Gindestille has received more than 14 national and international awards, including one from Lower Saxony’s Minister President Stephan Weil in 2021 as Culinary Ambassador of our federal state.

What remains?

WAY TO BRISTOL is intended to bring people together and bring Lower Saxony, Germany and Europe a little closer to Great Britain. In order to document this beyond the campaign, a book will be produced in the style of a logbook. It will contain typical regional recipes and dishes from the areas we have travelled through, which we have prepared on our traditional wooden boat over an open fire, as well as photos, memories and personal impressions of the various people along the way, which will arouse the reader’s curiosity. Since language means identity and understanding at the same time, the book will be published in three languages – German, English and Low German – and will be available in Germany and the UK.

At the same time, the campaign is intended to advertise our state of Lower Saxony and our city of Hannover and make us visible as a business and tourism location.

Money, Money, Money….

The entire WAY TO BRISTOL campaign is an open, non-profit project that is financed by individual donations of time and money and private investments. The project is supported by the association Spirit of Niedersachsen e.V. If there is still money in the coffers after the trip, half of it will be donated to the German War Graves Commission and half to the Invictus Games, a Paralympic sporting event for war-disabled soldiers.

Partners in Crime

A project of this scope means international teamwork – and that’s how it should be!

We work together or are in contact and exchange with:

  • Britische Botschaft Berlin
  • Deutsche Botschaft London
  • Stadt Hannover (u.a. Bürgermeister Thomas Hermann und Kulturbüro)
  • Hannoversch-Britische Gesellschaft e.V.
  • Bristol-Hanover Council, Bristol
  • Hannover-Bristol Gesellschaft e.V.
  • Tourismus Marketing Hannover
  • Rugbysparte des TSV Victoria Linden e.V. (21maliger Dt. Meister)
  • Heinrich Prinz von Hannover, Großbritannien und Irland
    sowie mit vielen weiteren Stellen, Organisationen, Amtsträgern und Privatpersonen