This wonderful paddle location is really a very short drive for us, but we hadn’t paddled the Nieuwkoopse plassen since 2017 when we first were learning how to canoe paddle as a team. You can read about those adventures here.
We started early, although with all the gear packing and loading and the short drive we didn’t get onto the water at the Noorden launch site until close to 9 am.
Anytime prior to the magic hour of 10 am is a great time to do anything in this country and enjoy quiet of nature.
We noticed a few new things (or maybe we had forgotten) like route signs.
Instead of having a planned out route this time we explored the route towards the Meije River on the far East side of the Nieuwkoops plassen.
At the start of the river is a nature center. We stopped only briefly to look at the map.
When we started to paddle on the Meije we noticed three guys working on a water barrier that went across the river. It looked as if we were going to have to turn around and paddle back in the direction we came. One of the guys noticed us and waved us forward to the barrier. We were told to press a button and the barrier gate would operate. Then we could paddle through this water control gate onto the river. This was a new experience for us.
We paddled down the river for a short distance and noticed a second gate leading back into the nature area and was listed for paddle boats only. At this gate I took a short video as we waited for the gate to open.
As we entered this nature area we started to make our way through the canals. The route is pretty understandable, any possible water path that looks like it could be a route has been blocked intentionally with large logs making it very clear the direction of travel. This area was full of bird and insect noises. In fact, it was so quiet I heard a cricket chirping!
Unfortunately, the nature sounds are disrupted by the noises of aircraft engines from the Schiphol airport.
We came into a small lake and started to look for a nice spot to have coffee. Not able to find a good spot to stop, we start to paddle back to the launch site. We noticed now there was more traffic on the water too.
This location also had a very nice (my standard, as a kid I grew up with an outhouse for a toilet) camp outhouse.
At this stop we noticed it was really getting busy on the water with a good combination of large and small boats along with all sorts of paddling crafts.
That was our signal that it was time for us to be getting off the water, as we really don’t enjoy all the traffic.
When we pulled up to the launch site it was also busy with swimmers and other paddlers getting ready to get on the water. Always a challenge to carefully get our beautiful Cedar boat out of the water even more so when we have to tip toe around other people and boats. In this case, on this day, people who really didn’t have a clue about water courtesy.
We loaded up and headed for home.
It was a great time exploring this old paddle location.
I was happy to receive a ride to Schoonhoven by the Hubby as he was spending the day cleaning out his mother’s house. By 7:30am under overcast skies I started hiking in Alblasserwaard. Limburg was just starting to get the rain that was already causing issues as it dumped on the region, two days later making the International news with the devastating flood waters.
The start of the trail was the bike path that comes off the water ferry boat from Schoonhoven.
Then the path turns to the right. I was now walking on a footpath between two canals. This nicely mowed path seemed isolated. Willow trees lined the trail. A street on the left and industrial area of on the right.
This part of the Floris V Pad route runs along the Lek River as it heads down stream towards Rotterdam. The towns located along this part of the river are old industrial trading towns. Old flat farmland outside the towns. Groot-Ammers was the first town I came along today but not before experiencing a few surprises.
As I was hiking, I suddenly saw a fire truck come by with sirens on. It turned in front of me further up the trail and went into the industrial area on my right. I looked for smoke, nope, no smoke. Then came a helicopter that landed in the industrial area on the right.
“Ok, there is something seriously going on.” I thought.
As I approached the road where I had seen the firetruck turn there came a another firetruck, then a police car all blazing the sirens. I quickly texted the Hubby that my day was already in the “strange” category.
Not more than 100 meters down the trail from the commotion in the industrial area, I heard a very familiar sound, a milking machine.
I looked around and saw that across the road there was a field where the milk cows were lined up waiting to enter a small mobile milking building. I laughed out loud at the well trained cows waiting patiently for the farmer to move the milking machine from one cow to the next in line.
The morning was going to continue being “strange”. As I approached the town of Groot-Ammers I couldn’t find the trail sign. The little hiking inner voice kept telling me to stop and check the map and gps, the stubborn hiking self continued to hike! Finally, my stubborn self gave in and stopped, checked the map and the gps and had to concede my faults of not trusting to my inner voice. I quickly chose an alternate route through town. Walking through neighborhoods of well groomed front gardens and passing school children that were all very happy that they were in the final days before summer vacation.
This route was now providing me with several additions to my “hummm July file”. More to follow on those “hummm” at the end of the month.
Outside of Groot-Ammers I took my first rest. Sitting on a bench overlooking the Lek River, I watched barges moving freight up and down the river.
The wind seems to blow constantly on this flat landscape of the Alblasserwaard, with the sky threatening to rain I got back on the trail heading towards Nieuw Lekkerland.
As I approached the turn in the trail heading into the flat farm area I was happy to see this sign.
This was a real treat of the trail! A small road that wound on the backside of houses that are built on the Lek River dike. Most of these houses had long yards with beautiful gardens or buildings that had farm animals. The sounds of farmland quiet surrounding me. This area filled me with memories of my younger self growing up in the Minnesota farm country as I hiked along.
Soon the paved small road turned into a gravel road. These are not very common here in The Netherlands anymore so I was excited to be hiking on one.
This road was devoid of any activity other than the ducks in the canal and the birds, cows, and sheep in the pastures. The only sounds, the occasional farm tractor and the endless wind.
After walking for a distance, I crossed a very busy paved road and continued along the gravel on the other side.
The trail now is marked that it turns into a farmers field.
At this point it was clear that the trail went through the farm field but the “welcome” I was greeted with was a bit unexpected.
Now, being raised on a farm, I was not a bit put off from that sort of “welcome” from the local farmer. In fact, I was always taught that if you smelled manure it was the smell of money. I walked the entire field of money and even had to scrape some money from my hiking boots at the end of the field. I figured it was best to leave as much money as possible for the farmer.
Now, I came to a gate and had an audience of young cattle as I tried to figure the safest way to negotiate the rather unstable and baler twine secured gate. I could almost hear the cattle discussing the last poor hiker that had come this way and ended up falling into the canal, or the pile of “welcome”. I was not providing any such entertainment to the cattle audience! I threw my backpack over the gate, rounded the end of the gate where it sat next to the canal bridge deck, stood the gate up straighter and flater against the fence post which gave me just enough room to squeeze through the gap between gate and bridge deck. I picked up my backpack placed the gate back the way it was prior to my squeezing through and tip toed around several cow paddy “welcome” mats.
The cattle at this point seemed very impressed and started mooing at me. They even followed me down the pasture sharing their comments as I hiked.
At the end of this pasture I had another gate to climb, this time I just climbed right over the top and dropped onto a paved bike path.
As I walked past a large chicken farm I stopped to check out their automatic egg store.
I came to where the trail headed back towards the Lek River dike. Now I stopped for a cup of coffee and a snack bar out of my backpack. I listened to the wind wiping through the flat expanses of farmland.
A check of the map and the gps showed that I was at the half way point to Nieuw Lekkerland. I checked the bus schedule at the nearest bus halt and saw I had less than 20 minutes to make it to the stop.
I kicked my hiking legs into overdrive and focused on the windmill in the distance, knowing that the bus halt was close by the mill.
Suddenly out of nowhere from behind a old man on a bike passed me! Darn near scared the pants off me.
I made it to the bus halt. Even had 10 minutes to wait.
Floris V Pad- Amsterdam to Bergen op Zoomtotal distance 245 km
Diemen to Weesp – 9.6km
Total to date hiked – 103km
Distance to complete – 141.1km
As I pushed my way out the door last week to hike another section of the Floris V Pad I was greeted with beautiful weather. To me it felt almost like a normal pre COVID day until… I got to the bus stop where I had to place a mask on my face for the journey. Just a week had passed by since my hike with my friend through Amsterdam but riding the train with her seemed to fly by without much thinking about the hassle of wearing a mask. Now, my stomach turned with anxiety as I started my journey.
Bus 300→Schiphol Airport → Train to Amsterdam Central → Train to Diemen.
The more than hour ride on the crowded public transport was enough to make me question my sanity of hiking. Taking the public transport to get to my start point, my inner voice constantly asking what if?
“What if that person that just coughed behind me has the Delta variant?”
“What if those tourists that got on the train carried a new form of the virus here to Amsterdam?”
“What if this mask I am wearing isn’t good enough?”
The biggest what if… “What if the vaccine I got doesn’t protect me?”
By the time I got off the train in Diemen I was pretty frazzled. As I came off the train platform, I encountered the first challenge in the hike. A construction worker directing me that I couldn’t walk in the direction I needed to go. I am sure I gave him an eye roll and a dirty look.
As I altered my path to the left, in an entirely different direction from the start of the trail, I grabbed my Garmin 64s gps out of the backpack and paired it with my phone. Realizing with shock, that my phone was at 50% battery and that I didn’t have the charging cable or my back up power pack! Not a great start to the day, to realize that I wasn’t prepared. I better just find my way to the start point.
I decided to walk in a square around the construction site. That sounds easy but in this country of water, canals and large housing areas it is always an adventure. You can start out thinking “I will just go down this street and then cut back across.” Then realize that when you finally get across a canal of water, that you could be very far away from where you wanted or needed to be.
I lucked out this time. I found a small bridge across the water, cut through several parking lots of several high rise apartment buildings, walked back in the direction I wanted to go from the train station, then I was back in familiar territory of the week prior.
Now at my start point, I headed East towards Weesp through a very industrial area. Passing a car repair shop, some business that dealt in designer items (wondered why here?), and the largest thrift store in Diemen. I was tempted to stop and shop but my backpack was already full of gear, it really didn’t seem wise.
The trail now started to look a bit more like the other sections of the Floris V Pad that I have already hiked. Suddenly I was in an area that had a horse stable! Then trees lined the path and the sound of the city rush seemed to disappear as did my earlier anxiety of public transport and frustration of not being prepared.
The path was in stark contrast to the public transport. Quiet, hardly any people.
I came to a nice bench in a wooded spot and looked at my phone battery. It was decreasing fast with the Garmin app active. I quickly texted the Hubby my situation so that if he tried to reach me by phone he would know why I wasn’t answering.
As I enjoyed my coffee on the bench and watched the walkers, dog walkers, and park cleaners pass by me I looked over and saw this.
I let out a loud laugh! Was I getting a message from the universe? I got up from my bench to get a closer look.
Yup, someone has been to Las Vegas! That sticker must have a story to tell! I laughed again at the thought of who might have placed it here in Diemen.
As I continued my hike towards Weesp I entered into a forested area. This one had a large sign with information about the area and what I might find while hiking. I smirked to myself when I saw a pine marten and a snake nicely displayed. Knowing that it was the middle of the day and very warm, not likely to see any of those creatures today!
I was on the trail totally alone, walking through what seemed to me like isolated territory, less than 12 km from the center of Amsterdam. This foot path was wonderful. I was watching my phone battery slowly die as I hiked the path. Just as I lifted my eyes from a near dead phone battery, I stood still in shock as this snake blocked my passage!
This was only the second snake I have ever seen while living in The Netherlands (15 years). Not caring that my battery was almost dead I took a picture of this very upset snake. If he was any bigger I would have taken his threats of pulling himself off the ground and making the ring around his neck flare outward seriously. At only about a foot and half long and not poisonous I knew he wouldn’t be a threat. I waited for him to backdown and move off the trail.
The day was getting warmer as I walked now out of the forest and back into farm country. I came along a very nice roadside stand that was selling eggs, and ice cream. With a nice sitting area for a person to take a rest. I couldn’t resist the ice cream. I sat and enjoyed the cool treat and was entertained by a passing damsel fly that stopped also for a rest. My universe felt perfect at that moment.
Weesp is where I started this hiking adventure of the Floris V Pad in late 2018. Now coming into the town from a different direction I experienced the cosy neighborhoods with beautiful front gardens as I wound into the town center where I had started this trail.
I finally reached the point where I had started. I quickly turned on the phone and took a picture of the point.
I walked through town, placed the mask on my face and entered the train station. My legs felt the strain of the walk but my spirit felt renewed.
Interested in my other Floris V Pad hiking sections? You can link to my start in Weesp here, or search Floris V Pad in the menu bar to read about my other section hikes.