Apeldoorn is just an hour east of Amsterdam but the nearby Hoge Veluwe national park feels quite remote. It is the same swath of forest and heath that I described in Rondje Veluwe a couple of years ago. This time my girlfriend Alice and I took a two-day journey from Apeldoorn through the forest.
(original date of this entry: August 16, 2013)The first day we made it to Hoenderloo, a village within the park some 20km southwest of Apeldoorn. Modern but homey accommodation at the home of Mevrouw Westerlik, our "cycling friend" for the evening.
|Apeldoorn/Hoge Veluwe National Park|
We sat there for quite a while noshing blueberries and raspberries we'd picked the previous afternoon. Though it seemed like a remote spot, plenty of cyclists passed at regular intervals, in groups or couples. One middle-aged couple stopped and went over their maps. The guy, with a head of brillo, and the woman, a blonde with a distracted expression, stood a few feet away from us. Alice offered them seats at our picnic table but they declined. Alice chatted with them. The guy was saying something about how long it took banana peels to decompose. Then we split.
Our plan was to head south, down into the Loenense Bos (the woods near the village of Loenen) and emerge at Eerbeek, then take the Apeldoorn Canal all the way back to Apeldoorn. Alice liked the plan. She says she isn't really a long-distance cyclist, more of a walker. But she was holding up pretty well on this jaunt and when I told her it was a 16km run to Apeldoorn she did not blink. Alice is a city biker and cycling to her is just like walking. But cycling 50km is not what she'd normally choose to do. Still she was certainly enjoying herself on this passage through the Veluwe.
From point 87 we bounded over a slender trail through the woods, going down, then up, then down again, then climbing through the sand hills now erupting in purple heather. We came to a big sheep's pen with a hay loft, the little sheep out to pasture. We were well inside the Veluwe and Alice was surprised by the setting. This is Holland? It might have been Germany or Romania with the smooth purple-flecked sand dunes backed by a line of tall pine trees.
|Refreshments in Eerbeek|
It didn't take us long to get out of Eerbeek and over to the Apeldoorn canal. We rode northwest all the way to Apeldoorn along this broad waterway, which separated the bicycle path from the road. The entire journey was a delight, beneath the shade of an endless row of oak trees. We stopped at a boat landing and dangled our feet over the cool water.
Then we were back in Apeldoorn, which despite its heartland location seemed to have a dark side: junkies and edgy characters strolling past our terrace behind the Cafe Het Molentje, a bar pumping oom-pah soul, the "alcoholics bar" according to the couple that staffs the bike rental place in the train station. We just returned the bikes and are hanging out on a Saturday evening. We're the only ones on the terrace. All the alkies are inside despite the warm weather. Across the way is a soulless white apartment block. Said Alice, "I could live there (an apartment with balcony over Piramide showarma), work there (Video Station), and spend my money there (Het Molentje)." Not likely, but Alice is always looking for an escape route.