Section by section I am getting closer to the finish mark of Bergen op Zoom.
Transport to the start point this time was the Hubby. I didn’t have a clear plan on where the trail would lead me. The initial plan was to hike the trail all the way to Dordrecht where the next noted official section of the Floris V Pad starts. The universe and my body had different plans on how this day would ultimately play out.
The morning was cool and the sky was clear. I started the hike that took me through more farmland of the Alblasserwaard.
This farmland trail had older windmills (one has been converted into a modern house) with an active water pumping station. I could hear the station pumping as I made my way along the trail.
As I approached the modern (windmill) house I started to notice artwork along my path. Then a gate that opened into a beautiful cottage garden. I took my time finding all the treasures hidden within the garden.
It was time to move on. Out of the garden, through a gate, and into a very long field, with no indicators where the trail existed. I checked the map and walked a straight line through the field. While I was hiking through the field I noticed that the canal water was moving at a good speed, most likely caused by the pumping station.
I walked a short section through a forest area then crossed a busy road intersection that shuttles traffic between Papendrecht and Schoonhoven. Once across the traffic intersection I was instantly inside the beautiful Alblasserwaard forest.
This trail now took me along tree and shrub lined trails, zig zagging through the forest. Birds singing in the canopy and insects of all sorts busy on flowers.
Somewhere around this time, I got off track of the actual Floris V Pad. Before I actually realized I was off course, I was almost on the outskirts of Papendrecht. Instead of back tracking, I just changed my plans. I texted the Hubby that I would meet him at the apartment building where he was waiting for a truck to haul off the last of his parents items.
Now I made my own trail as I wandered through the town. Papendrecht is not a small town and you really realize that when you are on foot. I walked through new housing areas and areas where time seemed to have stood still. The changes are reflected in the buildings architecture.
As I got closer to my destination I was suddenly rewarded with a new visual treat.
All of this made me smile and was well worth the trail diversion.
As I walked down the street, I found another tree community. This time there were two damsels waving at me from their perch. I am guessing they are huge Formula 1 fans, from the banner they sported from the balcony.
Soon another balcony came into view. The Hubby waited and waved to me as I made my way along the road.
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.