Through the dunes to Hoek van Holland

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We farewelled the family this morning after two weeks together. It has been great fun – now we are on our own. Jonathan, who joined us yesterday, rode with us for 30km or so along the dune paths and through the beachside holiday resorts of Noordwijk and Katwijk to Den Haag. This area is The Netherlands’ version of the Gold Coast with lots of big (and rather ugly) hotels, holiday accommodation and Dutch style fast food. The dunes are valued as defences against the sea so they are protected and carefully managed. There are many interesting sculptures installed along the seafront, part of a program to educate the public and foster an appreciation of the coastal environment.

We travelled beside a major highway into Den Haag, still a pleasant enough experience because a separate path was provided and deciduous forest lined the road. We parted from Jonathan after coffee at the Grote Markt – he is now an independent world traveller with multiple devices and data sources linking him up to everyone and everything!

At Scheveningen, the location of the annual New Year’s Day North Sea swim, we sampled the fish and chips (mediocre), admired more sculptures and took to the dune paths again. It is on the beaches in this area that Theo Jansen developed and tested his amazing strandbeests. However he is now a global phenomenon and is strandbeesting elsewhere on the planet. The size and number of the bicycle parking bays along the way attest to the popularity of the beach in areas where there is no car access.

Approaching Hoek van Holland we saw huge expanses of glasshouses with vegetables and flowers growing. The industrial landscape of the port loomed up – cranes, container terminals, cargo ships, power stations. We made it on to the RET Fast Ferry (pedestrians and bicycles only) with seconds to spare and were rapidly delivered to Maasvlakte, an industrial area on reclaimed land on the other side of the river. The waterways here are complicated – it’s hard to distinguish between rivers and canals.

The demarcation between the industrial zone and normal countryside is stark – suddenly we were riding past fields again and soon arrived in Oostvoorne where we are hosted by Peter, a retired teacher, intrepid cyclist with unique customisations to his bike, and wonderful cook and raconteur. He provided herring (raw and smoked) accompanied by a glass of gin, delicious soup and typical Dutch farmers dish of meat and vegetables minced together accompanied by beetroot.

Today’s route (approx)

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