Here in the Netherlands you don’t have to walk or drive far to find water, it is everywhere. But, sometimes finding a place to launch is not as easy as you would think. We found a harbor located on Nieuwkoopse Plassen (a series of lakes close to the town of Nieuwkoop) not far from where we live that rented canoes and hopefully had a launch site for my kayak.
We set out for the small town of Nieuwkoop. The harbor has canoes and kayaks for rent. When we pulled into this harbor we instantly could see on this sunny morning that this was the location we hoped it would be, as there were several smaller electric boats but the slips and docks had several Canadian canoes and kayaks on standby just waiting to be rented.
Note here: If you go somewhere that rents canoes or kayaks in The Netherlands they don’t like you bringing your own equipment to place in the water at their exclusive launch points. So my kayak stayed on the car and we rented a canoe.
We paddled out of the harbor and onto the lake.
Until, we figured out that the GPS was not on. Notice the start point on the map.
This was the first time ever my husband and I had paddled together in a canoe. After, several conversations between the front and the back of the canoe we made it across the lake. With sore arms and I with a bruised ego. We both already felt the pain of muscles we didn’t know we possessed.
As we paddled we had several large boats pass us and head towards a small island camp ground. We headed there too to take a short break and decide where we would continue to paddle.
At our stop we planned on practicing our skills on the canal routes that lead off the Nieuwkoopse Plassen. The wind on these protected canals blows across fields of reeds and is a great place to see all sorts of birds. These canals are also limited to motor boats of 5 km/hr.
Inside the canals we really worked on trying to communicate what each of us was doing while we paddled.
While we were in the canal we had a nice older Dutch boat come past us. I was lucky enough to get a video of it.
We enjoyed our paddle back to the harbor and had a nice lunch at the restaurant out in the sun. We were thankful for being early to the harbor as the beautiful weather had now made the canoe rental very busy.
Our second trip to the Nieuwkoopse Plassen was about a month later. This second trip was in our new cedar strip canoe.
There are several canoe routes listed for Nieuwkoopse Plassen and this time we choose the canoe route on the northern part of the lakes. The small town of Noorden has a canoe/kayak launch point. There is also a small rental shop for canoes and kayaks.
We had preprogramed our route points into the GPS and wanted to see how close it came to the actual routes that are well documented on the maps we had referenced.
The launch point is right next to a busy street. In Noorden, that means cars, bikes, and farm tractors. We quickly off loaded our Cedar and crossed the busy road. This launch point does have a wonderful wide dock that was easy to place the boat into the water and get on our way. The boat launch point is free.
The first part of this paddle the canal is lined with houses, but it was less than 200 meters and we entered a nature area that is routed for canoe and kayaks. Smaller boats also use parts of this area of canals so we had to be careful when we wound our way around the corners.
This wild area has some stopping points located along the routes where you can get out, walk around, have lunch or a snack.
Note here: What they don’t have is bathrooms! Be prepared to hold it or bury it!
As we had a good amount of practice on our route of canal paddling we headed towards the large part of the lake and instantly found the Dutch wind coming head on towards the canoe. Even with a hard wind and our few weeks of practice we already had mastered a steady speed of 5 kmh.
When we finally made our way back to the start we toured a very odd art display next to the launch site. All the art was dedicated to the cows. This huge cow that was over the bridge was the entrance to the exhibit that lined the bike path. Exploring can lead to almost anything at the end of the trail, even cow art!
Nieuwkoopse Plassen Information:
Restaurant Tijsterman– Wonderful place to sit next to the harbor and watch the coming and goings on the lake while having a nice cup of coffee.
Jachthaven Plaszicht– A harbor in Nieuwkoop that rents canoes and kayaks. Their homepage has a wonderful drone view of the lake and the surrounding area.
National Nature Reserve – Nieuwkoopse Plassen – (also known in Dutch as Bezoekerscentrum Nieuwkoopse Plassen): This small but very nice visitors nature center explains the marshlands of the Nieuwkoopse Plassen, offers trail maps for the area and hosts a small gift shop. Plus- its is free!!!
Canoe and kayak routes – These most common routes are all well marked with signs along the way.
Café de Klinker in Noorden- Located on the very north end of the Nieuwkoopse Plassen is this restaurant and directly across the road is the canoe/kayak launch site. A perfect place to start or end your canoe paddle with a cup of coffee and apple pie.