I’ve just arrived at Düsseldorf, where I cruised into to aptly named Café Vélo in the town centre. Today is my fourth day, and after lunch I will push on another 30 miles or so east of here – where my route runs along a river and through some woods where I can camp.
The last three and a half days have been good. The first day was an early morning, and a goodbye to Cat in Ipswich followed by a surprisingly scenic ride down to Harwich for my ferry crossing. The crossing itself was largely uneventful, comprising naps, eating, and boredom. Arriving into Hoek van Holland I cycled a meagre 2 miles to a treeline alongside to cycle path where I kipped.
Day two was, eventually, pleasant, getting under way around 7.30 and following the river (the Scheur?) east to Rotterdam, then on southeast. After the first 5 miles or so, until perhaps 40 miles on, the riding was tedious and uninspiring – a constant urban blandness, not relieved by intervals on similar suburban sprawl. This was what I had expected. Yet I was in for a surprise, as around mile 48 the country opened up and I rolled into the charming little fortified town of Goringchem – think quintessential Holland, with the flowers and all! From there I took my first ferry, crossing to a similar, albeit smaller and even more quaint, town of Woudrichem (it even had a windmill flying dutch flags from its sails), and then on east southeast to another ferry (a proper job, running along cables between banks). I kipped along an empty river bank just east of the crossing – a little early, but the spot was perfect.
Day three was the dog’s danglies, as they say, with the sun finally out and my legs warming to saddle life, and the scenery constantly improving; away from the open, often bleak, wetland to an increasingly wooded landscape. It was interesting to see, in the interim, a number of worked willow copices along the roadside – something practiced in the UK, but never to that scale. Early in the day, a few miles past ‘s-Hertogenbosch was Kasteel Heeswijk – a lovely brick castle come stately home approached by splendid driveways planted with poplar and copper beech. Onwards and east, to a last ferry crossing to Arcen, near the border with Germany. There I saw, albeit from its entrance, another castle (€14 a visit…), made use of its facilities, then camped in the woods, with a Belgian beer, to the east of the town.
Today (Sunday 7th May) I crossed the border, then proceeded on to Düsseldorf. My immediate thoughts are that, while the cycle path system seems good (more or less the same), it is certainly less maintained and less used here in Germany (to my behind’s sorrow). In other news I have already torn my new jumper – with its hood jamming in my rear disc brake this morning.
That’s all for now,
P.s. more photos to come, but the internet is dreadful and I need to go!
Pps. Any spelling errors etc can be blamed on blogging from a phone (not easy)