Sometimes we really research and plan our paddles, sometimes we don’t. This paddle was in the later category. I had found a link to paddles in the Alblasserwaard (varenindepolder.nl). Wow! There are 15 organized well marked routes and one of those routes went into the small medieval town of Nieuwpoort (Route 1a) located along the banks of the Lek River. Right in my camping neighborhood.
The route 1a for Nieuwpoort was going to be a very short 6km paddle round trip. It would be a great combo paddle and then walking sightseeing trip into the small town.
We started at the point that it was indicated on the map in the small town of Godriann. The De Vliet River runs North right into Nieuwpoort.
The first thing we saw is that the canoe launch was at a restaurant. The launch was not well marked and was obscured from view by a children’s play area that seemed to be purposefully built to deny access to the canoe landing. We had to push tables and chairs of the closed restaurant out of the way in order to get our 16 foot canoe onto the launch and into the water. Upon our return we had to take out on a grass spot on the opposite bank so as not to disturb the customers at the now open restaurant.
At the start of the paddle the day was already starting to warm up to the later in the day temperature of 81F. Warm and muggy we had a light breeze to keep us encouraged in the early part of the paddle. We first passed a windmill on our right.
This paddle through the polder farmland was filled with all sorts of birds. Geese, terns, ducks, and reed birds flew around as we paddled past in the warm morning.
The next point we came to was a windmill located off to our left. It operated with the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the air going through the mill sails.
This was also our portage point along this route. We were a bit perplexed not to find an actual canoe landing or signage as to where to portage.
So the adventure began… we paddled around the small lagoon area and found nothing…
…then we pulled up next to the windmill and I climbed out to look to see if we missed it and if there was an actual portage…
As I looked around and couldn’t find a thing the windmill operator’s son-in-law stopped and talked to the hubby and told him where the portage landing was.
I held the canoe and hubby went in search of the launch site…
…then the son-in-law saw we were having trouble locating it and came out to walk my hubby down to the launch site that was overgrown in tall grass and was not well marked.
We did get a great close up view of the windmill in operation.
The morning was warming up fast and now we looked forward to seeing Nieuwpoort and getting out of the hot sun for a bit.
On our paddle towards the town we disrupted a mother duck with two babies who was out of her mind trying to keep them safe from the approaching canoe. Flapping her wings going from one side of the river to the next trying to get the now separated babies on opposite banks into the weeds to hide she was making a frantic effort to keep her babies safe when suddenly one of them disappeared under the water never to reappear the other along the opposite bank also disappeared. The mother duck kept looking frantically for her now disappeared babies. I am sure the one was eaten by a very large fish. That put a damper on my morning paddling experience as I never want to be the cause of upsetting the balance of the natural places I paddle.
Then we came to the point indicated on the map where we could step out and walk into Nieuwpoort. The De Vliet at this point runs straight into a pumping station that blocks the river. Again, we found ourselves looking for a dock, a tie up point or just a shallow enough spot to take out the canoe. There was nothing to be found!
The heat and now our dissatisfaction in finding no way to safety get our canoe tied up or on shore we turned and headed back the way we came.
We did get a picture of a small Fuut in the duckweed on the return paddle.
We paddled 6km round trip on De Vliet. The temperature when ended our paddle at 11:30 am was 80F.
Things we saw: Two Windmills, birds, a pissed off mother duck who lost both her chicks, a Fuut chick in the duckweed, dairy cows.
Things we learned:
– Don’t always trust the advertised information on the paddle websites.
– Launches and portages are not always well marked , safe or even exist. We expect that in the wilds of Northern Minnesota, but didn’t expect it in the Alblasserwaard on a week advertised paddle route.
-Make alternative plans for your day if portages or launch points make it impossible to reach your destination. Plan on paddling extended lengths and time if this does occur.