Monday, September 12, 2016

Guidebook research X: Dwingelderveld National Park

In a reserve called Ter Horst Zand at the northeast corner of the Dwingeloosche Heide/Dwingelderveld National Park, western Drenthe province. I know I'm near the highway (A28) because I can hear the drone, though all I can see is clumps of heather and swamp. It's a typical late spring day, alternately warm and sunny, cloudy and windy. It's the last day of Phase 2 and I'm wrapping it up with a spin around the park, then ride to Hoogeveen and my train back home.

Re-roofing with reeds, outside Westerbork
(original date of this entry: June 15, 2015)
Sandy heath appears to be the star attraction in this part of the land--though in fact it is almost everywhere else in Holland. The supposed variation of Dwingelderveld is that it is "heath wetlands." Let's see. I've been training, so to speak, over the past month so it should not be too hard. I could use another taste of that sunshine though ...

kp 46 -> 44
From Ter Horst Zand, follow signs for Spier (4.8km). When you reach the highway follow signs 'volg route verkorting' to a nearby (badly) spray-painted ramp up over the highway. (The overpass is partitioned so drivers won't see you.) You land in a still cool part of the forest. This is the Beilersdingpad route and it looks like a winner.

Emerging from the forest I am at a cute little ijsjes/fritjes stand beside the road. I see that Hoogeveen is an easy 11km from here (not so far as the Westerbork tourism lady made me believe--that name by the way will always have a sinister tone, even if they've got a cut-paper museum). And it appears there's a green way to Hoogeveen.

Westerbork - Hoogeveen via Dwingelderveld

This stretch cuts right through the wet heath to Pesse (6km). Numerous cyclists out today enjoying the intermittently sunny weather, many of them senior couples.

It's a true wetlands here in the Dwingelderveld. Lots of lakes, birds. No one seems to go this way. This forest/heath is surely up there with *top experiences* on this journey. (And I might've skipped it.) I'm sitting with a view of two lakes beyond the trees, fringed by bushy reeds. Ground strewn with pine needles and cones. It remains sunny though the wind is picking up.

-> 61
Rolling toward Hoogeveen I reach another lake, almost hidden by a bank carpeted in white fluff. Seems like there is no one else on these beautiful old trails. The lake recedes into the whiteness to become a meadow towered over by pines. Really this is some of the loveliest country I've seen yet on this journey, and it just goes on and on.

Dead Orvelte

THE RIDE THAT WAS: Phase two of guidebook research
I genuinely enjoyed this phase of the trip to gather information for the next edition of the Netherlands guidebook. Almost incredible that it began in Leeuwarden. Seems a very long time ago. Then Terschelling in a windstorm, Vlieland and Harlingen where I stayed in a shipyard. I rode back to Leeuwarden via Franeker, then caught a bus to Holwerd and a ferry to wonderful Ameland, hot weather ceding to chilly winds. Then the great city of Groningen where I made many discoveries. My host, Jenne, made it all easy for me. I took a day to explore the northern reaches of Groningen province: the beautiful gardens of Mekemaborg and the nothingness of Noordpolderzijl. Then rode from Winsum to Groningen and thanks to the providential appearance of Johannes Rosier--hallowed be they name--made it back to the hoofdstad in time for a decent meal at the Stadtlander (with a 't'). Then the journey turned decidedly rural and for the most part wonderful. Train to Winschoten, bike to Bourtange via Vlagtwedde where I had a fateful meeting with Josefina Benjamin, Alice's aunt. Then shuttled over to my Bourtange hosts, Jesus-loving Avis and husband Leon. Bourtange was less thrilling but the day was summery and I had a lovely ride to Stadskanaal, where I lost my way and showed up in Borger late to a most inhospitable host. A visit to the hunebed center followed by a fun hunebedden hunt all the way to Assen. (Rolde's boulders were the best.) I stayed with the taut and feisty Frieslander Wika, then the kindly Anya. Spent a rainy morning at the Drentsche Museum, then rode around the sands, forests and farms of Drentsche-Aa National Park. From Assen, via rural ways to Kamp Westerbork, a sinister spot in a brooding forest. From there found the perfect woodsy uninhabited corridor to the town of Westerbork. And today I looked at a dead Orvelte, a simulated centuries-old village, then cycled the woods and wetlands heath of the Dwingerveld. And I'm glad I did!


... On the train to Zwolle after a bangup climax. Coming into Hogeveen--which involved going over a freeway--a luxury car like a Cadillac stops in front of me and an exec of some sort opens the door to get out making as if to cross my path and I keep going (as any cyclist would), and he mutters as if in disapproval. I pull up at the station, rapidly top up my OV-Chipkaart, and dagfiets kaart, board lift, cross to track 2, board lift, and there's the Zwolle train on the platform. Don't see the fiets icon so I run the length of the train toward the conductor, a blonde woman, and put the bike on. That very moment she blows the whistle and the train starts moving.

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