Later on, I find myself in the town of Veenendaal (veen = peat) at a singularly uninspiring spot: an empty playground amidst bleak beige brick homes and apartment buildings. Late-model cars drift past like the wind. The sun waits behind fluffy clouds, occasionally irradiating the scene. Middle-aged couples out for a stroll.
|Grebbelinieroute Zuid (ANWB map)|
|Waiting on an eastbound train outside Veenendaal|
|Alone at last: de Grebbelinie|
|Back in Veenendaal|
"Vroeger was de Grebbelinie een belangrijke militaire verdedigingslinie."
Which means, previously the Grebbelinie was a major military line of defense. It goes on to describe how flooded areas prevented armies from reaching western Holland, but now the networks of dikes and quays serve to protect nature.
Tooling along on this woodsy trail, sun dappling down through the birch canopy, slightly warming the chilly air, cows grazing in a green field below to the left, I never want it to end. Then I hit the road (to 45) and realize this woodsy idyll was just an illusion, an island in the urbanization.
Then the route exits Veenendaal again to enter its triumphant final phase (to 27) south to Rhenen. It runs beside a long, straight canal fringed by reeds, with peat bogs and cows a' grazin' on both sides. Nice bucolic landscape for the last leg.
|In the same vane ...|
|The approach to Rhenen|
This whole section of the route is glorious. The canal winds through the landscape, like a scene from an autumnal painting. Geese fly in great V's overhead.
The last stretch to Rhenen (to point 52) is perhaps the loveliest. Here the banks broaden beside the canal, which joins a bigger waterway, the Lek River, to become like a bayou as it approaches Rhenen where it is spanned by a major bridge. Church bells clang from Rhenen's tower at 6 o'clock. The trail through this section feels like a park path -- through a vast park that borders the bayou.
I could have turned at the bridge for the train station but instead opted to complete the loop to point 36, thus hugging the riverbank with the church tower rising up by the town, illuminated against the deep blue dusk. This aspect is a far more flattering one than what I glimpsed coming into town.
|Bridge over the Lek|
Didn't make it all the way to 36 but turned back through the glowing but somnolent town center to the station, where a Sprinter to Breukelen was waiting on the track. The conductor, a stern, bald man , was sitting alone in the first-class compartment. He told me it departed in about 10 minutes. I went and purchased a bicycle "dagkaart": 6 euros.
|Rhenen's Cuneratoren (1531)|