We were in the National Park Weerribben-Wieden for a week to explore the waterways and to attend the Dutch Open Canoe Festival. During our week stay at De Kluft trekkershut (cabin) we had two longer canoe paddles (longer for us, our average is 6 km paddles) in the waterways of the National Park.
The first was a 12 km RT paddle to Kalenburg that explores the marsh lands of the National Park and the marsh forest of the National Park.
The early morning start had us paddling in the still quiet marsh waters with the slight wind rustling through the reeds. As we came to the first turn of our paddle we noticed that the air smelled of smoke and we could see in the distance smoke rising in the marsh.
As we got closer the canal was blocked by a flat barge boat loaded with reed bales that had just been harvested and loaded onto the barge. We squeezed past the end of the barge as the farmers were busy loading more bales.
As we continued to our projected coffee point (Canoe Point 5) we passed a field with piles of reed harvest waste burning.
At our coffee stop we actually got to talk to one of the reed harvesters and he told us that this day was the first time they were allowed to burn the waste products from the harvest. So many of the fields were harvested earlier in the summer were now being lit to prepare for the new growing season. We were told that in earlier years the harvesters burned as they harvested but now with the increased tourist and vacation market in the area they were now regulated to only burn after the summer vacation period was over. The harvester we talked to was not unlike farmers from the midwest of the USA who constantly have to negotiate new regulations as population centers move and approach farming areas, he was clearly frustrated.
We enjoyed our coffee at this canoe point and looked at the farm equipment. Our footsteps on the marsh were more like walking on moving floors in an amusement ride. We constantly felt unstable but it was a cool experience.
After coffee we continued on our paddle route towards Kalenburg. We encountered a few motorized harvest boats along the way and a few more fields of burning reed waste. We passed a canoe that was paddling in the opposite direction going towards where we came from. Later we passed them again as we were coming to the end of our trip.
Kalenberg is a very old settlement that is remote for Dutch standards as it only has one road into the town. Houses located on one side of the river can only be accessed by walking or biking or by boat. Most of the houses have the local thatch roof of reed and the major business in town is the reed harvesters and tourism.
We ate lunch at the restaurant Het Rietershuijs, which has a wonderful outdoor sitting area and a perfect place to tie up our canoe.
Once we ate our lunch and paddled out of Kalenberg we headed into the forested part of the route. But, not before we saw more of the marsh fields being burned.
The forest area is shaded from the hot sun. We faced a hot sun beating on us in the open marsh fields. Now we were glad to be in this shady part of the paddle. We also were both suffering from our long lunch and our unused paddle muscles. We stopped at canoe point 18 for a quick water break and we were glad to be almost to our cabin to rest.
Things we experienced on this canoe paddle:
- We learned all about the reed harvest in the Weerribben.
- Kalenberg was a good half way stopping point.
- The National Park Weerribben has a diverse ecosystem.
- Coolest thing we saw was a huge spider (sorry, no picture for fear of dumping the canoe…)
Our Stats on this paddle:
- Total RT distance 12km
- Fastest speed 6km/hr
- Avg Speed 4.4km/hr
- Total time on the water 2hrs 40mins
© The Cedar Journal, 2018, all rights reserved.
This is all so interesting to me, to see your photos of your surroundings and to read about the farmers. Are the waterways always this placid? Peaceful is the word that comes to mind when I read or your canoe journeys. Is that a fitting word for the Netherlands in general?
Funny that you mention how calm the waters are as you are second of my followers in the last few weeks to notice. This is not normal weather or wind conditions for us. Usually the wind is blowing and creates such conditions we can’t take photos. So it has been a peaceful summer of canoe paddles, but not normal for here. On other fronts we have our dramas too but it seems that the American political system takes a great deal of pressured the tiny issues that exist as no one here can believe all the issues being dramatize by the current occupant of the White House. But, just like in most families that drama time will end too. Thanks as always for your comments and insightful observations.
Excellent place for a relaxing week. You had some lovely weather too! Unlike today’s weather… Very autumy…
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Yes, we were lucky. The weather is back to NL normal for sure.😊
[…] paddles through this large Dutch National Park. The first was a 12km canoe paddle (read about it here) the first day we were on our vacation. This 10 km canoe paddle was on the last day of our […]
Very interesting! I learned a great deal! Thanks for taking your readers along.
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Thanks! I learned a great deal from that harvester that day too. I am so glad you enjoyed it!
Again, my thirst for learning from the experiences of others (isn’t that pretty much the definition of blogging ha) – so, question of the post is … what are the harvested reeds used for?
Oh…I guess I missed that! They are used for thatched roofing. I guess in the past reed material was used much in the same way that hemp was in the US. Mats, rugs, reinforcement of soil to keep the dams and canals from erosion. Mostly now it is only used here on very expensive traditional looking houses. In the 1 million plus value sort of houses.
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Interesting – I would not have guessed that but it makes sense based on a number of movie references I’ve seen. Thanks for the new brain (yes, I almost went dyslexic there as a joke) fodder
[…] of ours several times over the years (you can read about those experiences here, here, here and here). On this vacation, we decided to rent one of the vacation houses with direct water access for five […]