January can be and mostly is, here in the Netherlands, grey, rainy, windy and cool. So when the weather broke last Friday and appeared to be clear and cold from our kitchen window, I started out the door to add another few kilometers to my Floris V pad hike.
The temperatures were holding around -3C (27F). I was in need of a good dose of vitamin D. I have been lacking from this vitamin in the last few weeks of dull sunless sky. Cabin fever had set in to the point that I felt almost an anxiety about leaving the house. But, I layered my wool undergarments, pulled on my winter jacket, hat, gloves, laced up my hiking boots and headed to the bus stop. Starting my long multi transit trip towards the hiking trail.
Bus N397→ Schiphol Airport → Train to Weesp → 15 min wait for train to Hilversum→ bus 106 to bus stop in Kortenhoef.
Wow- I was finally on the trail walking towards what would lead me through the marshlands and between lakes. The wind was light and the sun blaring in my eyes from the southeast horizon. The roadway trail I was on was busy as I was passed by bikes, other walkers and cars speeding by on their way to enjoy the sun. I was enjoying the look of the houses and the farmland so much that I missed my first trail turnoff into the marshland! By the time I realized my mistake I was near my halfway point and didn’t want to back track. I just continued on and figured at some future point I will have to come back and complete this short part of the trail.
I crossed over the busy N201 that leads into Aalsmeer, walking along the Moleneind street. This street is lined with harbors, boat yards, and some very exclusive gated houses. I wondered as I walked if those people behind those fences and gates are really any happier than me? I concluded on this very sun filled day, maybe not.
At the end of the street I came to the point that looked a bit under construction. Muddy, wet, and rutted from heavy equipment I couldn’t find the trail markers. I consulted my phone map, I was sure I was at the right location. That is when a Dutch lady coming off the trail and seeing me, told me that the trail was not as bad as it looked. I guess she was referring to the mud.
Ahh, peace and quiet. I could feel the stress of the past few weeks melting away with each step. This part of trail now lead between two lakes the Wijde Blik (on the right side) and the Loenderveensche Plas (on the left). The light wind was blowing from the South sending small waves crashing onto the dike road. The road is partially protected by willow trees that lined each side. Hard packed from years of foot traffic it was not as muddy as I had first feared. The sounds of only the waves, the blowing reeds and the few water birds that swam by made it seem peaceful and remote.
The middle part of this trail between the lakes held a wonderful bird watcher overlook tower. I climbed into this tower and took a few minutes enjoy the 360 degree look over the lakes that surround this trail. Not many birds to be seen on this cold day.
At the far end of the lakes the trail turned to the right and then back to the left. I was back in civilization. In the middle of the trail was a backhoe and mud everywhere. Not knowing how I would get past I hoped that the operator of the large machine would pull to the side and allow me to pass. I stood for a bit and waited and saw that to him I was invisible. He continued with his backhoe work. Just then, his boss came and yelled at him to stop and let me pass. I was passing by, the operator took revenge on me for disrupting his workflow, he jiggled the backhoe bucket and showered me with mud. Thanks!
I continued on the trail with now mud spattered clothes, the sun had not reached this area lined with houses. The slippery trail caught me off guard. I slipped on the black ice that covered the trail but caught myself before I fell to the ground.
“careful… I don’t need that today!” I thought to myself. With a flash of me in a local emergency room with some broken bone and covered in even more mud as my hubby would rush in to see me and once again shake his head in disbelieve.
I came to the end of the lake trail, the Floris V pad was now clearly marked again. I turned right and headed North along the Vecht River looking at the houseboats and mansions that lined the river.
In Vreeland the trail leads over the N201 and the Vecht River to the other side and continues South. This part of the trail is supposed to run on a small foot trail next to the river. I took it leaving the main road only to find that someone had placed a locked gate and fence in the path. I had to back track to the roadway.
I saw two storks in a pasture looking for food and harassing the sheep. Funny, to see a stork run off a small sheep. The sheep looked a bit shocked as to why this bird encroaching on his prime grassland.
The footpath now re-emerged along the roadway. I looked on my phone for a bus stop in the next small town. As I was looking at my phone, an older couple stopped and asked me where the foot path lead. It always seems strange to me to get asked questions when I am hiking as I never feel like I know what I am really doing (I guess I must look like I do). I answered and they thanked me and we headed in our opposite directions.
The next village I came to was Loenen aan de Vecht, this old village had a windmill, a tall church spire. I walked to the center of the village to the bus stop and saw it headed towards Amsterdam and stopped at a train station where I could head for home.
The total of this hike along the route I took was 10 Km.
Again the transport rides home were as much of a trip as getting to the location in the morning.
Loenen aan de Vecht bus stop→ bus 120 to Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena → Train to Schiphol→ Bus N397 home
The bus route towards Amsterdam with all the stops, was interesting for me. I have never visited this area and I now had the opportunity see the small communities along the bus route.
Things I saw on this hike:
- Three storks, thousands of geese, sheep, ducks.
- Bird overlook tower
- Some very old houses, some very new houses and houseboats.
- old mansions and gated new mansions.
- Wijde Blik lake
- Loenderveendche Plas (lake)
- Waterleiding Plas (lake)
- The small towns of Kortenhoef, Vreeland, and Loenen aan de Vecht.
- The Vecht River
Tips for this part of the trail:
- Look carefully for the route to turn to the left outside of Kortenhoef. It is not well marked. I missed the turn and didn’t complete that part of the trail.
- Trail can be muddy and windy along the open water.
- This trail runs along the road in many places so beware of traffic as the streets are narrow.
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