Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Zandvoort & Around

Vogelmeer, Kennermerland National Park
Afternoon at Zandvoort beach: relaxation on the sand, just the slightest trace of a cool breeze, the water calm and not too cold with gentle waves. And the ride that followed was just great: the 'Door bos en duin met de IJmondroute', i.e. 'through woods and dunes by the mouth of the IJ,' though I left out the IJ bit at the top. Only trouble is it's fairly hilly and the OV-Fiets (share bike) isn't really up to the task. I had to do a lot of stand-up climbing, but also downhill zooming.

(original date of this entry: July 6, 2017)
From Zandvoort, I followed the seafront promenade north toward Bloemendaal aan Zee, then was routed onto a parallel road, basically a dedicated bus lane with bike lanes on either side. The cars continue up to Parnassia, the beach zone north of Bloemendaal. Finally I entered Kennermerland National Park, which I have yet to properly explore. I soon reached a lake/swamp full of ducks and birds, the Vogelmeer.

kp 66 -> 6 -> 5 -> 7 -> 99 -> 19 -> 21 -> 36
This is the typical dunes landscape of low trees, shrubs and swamp. Toward kp 6 and 5 (Santpoort-Noord) it turns woodsy and the tile path turns to white gravel. Heading south, you continue along a path between fences through the woods, a delight. Lots of hiking trails around here. At kp 7 is Brederode Castle, originally constructed in 1282, with a well perserved brick tower.

Brederode Castle
Then it continues through forest, plenty of yellow flowers alongside the path. Back toward Zandvoort, it just gets better.  kp 37 -> 77 -> 79 is a woodsy jaunt. The whole circuit is around 21 km.


(July 10)
Heading back out to Zandvoort today, this time taking my bike along. OV-Fiets (share bikes provided by NS rail) are ok but I intend to do some serious touring. The afternoon has turned overcast though still warm. Today I'll head south toward Noordwijk.

Noordwijk beach

By the time I arrived in Zandvoort it had clouded over and turned cool. It's a continuous climb south through the rather desolate dunescape of twisted shrubs. The LF-1 here is a strip along the coast, the dunes to the east fenced off as a zone for the extraction and purification of drinking water, which the area has supplied to Amsterdam since 1853.

I crossed the border to Zuid-Holland and the surface turned to white gravel. It's a fun sensation riding along this rise with the dunes spreading out below. Mostly racers on the trail. North of Noordwijk there are turnoffs for remote beaches. Then, at beach no 27/kp 31 is a string of cafes. The beach is just below. The sea is rather choppy with a few kite surfers.

The way to kp 86 eventually turns left, away from the coast and climbs pleasantly through the hills, a broad white path. Suddenly I fly downhill and reach a road, the edge of the town of Noordwijk. Follow the road a bit toward kp 6, then left and uphill into woods. Thus begins a lovely woodsy corridor between dunes and farms, later (toward kp 44) ceding to forest. Many small birds darting about. An appealing contrast to the starkness of the dunes. Finally I come out on the (Delftweg). Then a left and I go through a dull flower farming community with kitschy homes, ending up at De Zilk. Immediately upon seeing the austere church behind a flower field I recognized the place from a springtime tour of the flower fields three years earlier.

-> kp 76
Zandvoort south
It's been drizzling on and off. As often happens on these rides, you switch from mundane modern to old mysterious. Such is the sudden transition from the flower farm community—the flowers all cut now though the bands of stalks still form a pattern in the landscape—to this remote country road, so still, lined with old linden trees between a brook and a field of cut grass dotted with plastic-wrapped cylinders of hay. Still overcast but the rain's stopped and a breeze rustles the trees. And after all that climbing, it feels great to just cruise along.

-> kp 72
I found a retreat at the top of a hill in the middle of the forest surrounded by gnarly old trees. It's a peaceful spot, except for the passing trains at the bottom of a field—the Haarlem-Leiden line.

Estate house of Leyduin.
Leyduin is one of several country estates nestled in the forest between Haarlem and the coastal dunes, dating from the 1600s. There is an estate house and opposite an open-air exhibit on buitenplaatsen (country estates).

Among the oaks, beech and birch stand rarer trees like Caucasian walnut and tulip trees. Great spotted woodpeckers, Eurasian nuthatches, tawny owls, Eurasian sparrowhawks, Eurasian blackcap—they can all be spotted in the woods here, along with plenty of bunnies and deer.

-> kp 82
A bit further down is a belvedere—a lookout pavilion on a rise in the woods. At kp 82, I took a wrong turn and ended up in downtown Heemstede, a dreary southern appendage of Haarlem. I could've caught the train home from there but still enjoying the ride turned around for kp 83 -> 77 -> 79, essentially a continuous tiled country lane with gates that you swivel through at each intersection. kp 77 is where I exited the Kennemerduinen yesterday. Coming into Zandvoort this time I followed the station signs (though almost got run over noticing one and swerving). I left the bike locked (under a protective roof) at Zandvoort station, figuring I'd get back for more touring.

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