kp 85 -> 93 -> 92 -> 90
Now near a place called Ritthem, a short distance east of Vlissingen. The trail runs along the northern bank of the Westerschelde (the mouth of the Schelde river from Antwerp), and all the way big container ships and freighters ply the waters. Factories and chemical refineries define the far shore, but this side is a nature reserve with some fine beaches, such as this spot with patches of sand beneath trees fronted by swamp with views of the ships. It is 7km to Middelburg via the LF-13.
(original date of this entry: Aug 13, 2017)
kp 90 -> 91 -> 57
This is a rural route, alternating between corridors of trees and wide-open sun-drenched fields. Perfect weather, nice and sunny with a delightful cool breeze. Arriving in Middelburg I cross the ring canal and proceed up to the Groenmarkt. The town was very quiet this Sunday evening and the streets absurdly quaint and neat, the solid old houses zealously renovated. My memories of Middelburg are hazy. From the main square I proceed east and take a left on Molstraat. Two blocks up is my vriend op de fiets and it's a winner. Enormous old house with many solid, old-fashioned rooms and a huge garden, which my room overlooks. Hosts Tjeerd (Frisian name) and Dominique are rather reserved but nice enough. Tjeerd is a tall beanpole of a man, around 60. Dinner at Burger Bistro on the Damplein. My one burger per year was outstanding, a perfectly broiled half-pounder.
"Somplace sandy?" she asked. Yes, the magnificent beach at Neeltje Jans. And it is at its finest today. Hot day, little wind, a bit hazy with big clouds on the horizon but mostly sunny. Warm enough to seek refreshment in the gently moving sea, the water still and cold like a great pool. The beach is a vast swath of powdery white sand marked on either end by giant pinwheels. It feels secluded and remote —as it should taking some effort to get to. The strand is on a stretch of the Delta Project works between Walcheren/Noord Beveland and Schouwen. To get here I rode from Middelburg to Veere —a mostly rural route through farm fields (to kp 62), unlike last time when I took a parallel route along a canal slightly south (to kp 63). I could see the disproportionately huge cathedral of Veere from quite a distance. Veere was crammed with tourists and headed straight to the ferry —reached by going through an arched passageway in a house.
The boat crosses to Kamperland in about half an hour (€3.50). From the landing I rode alongside Schotsman, a sort of wetlands/nature reserve/campgroun with a long row of RVs parked by the water. I stopped at the little supermarket for nuts and juice, then continued up the road to kp 2 through woods —frequent trailheads into the swamp zone— went under the N57 (kp 2 -> 3), coming up (toward kp 4) at a significant beach, De Banjaard (which I recall passing in the other direction at dusk on my way to Middelburg and home; then it had a melancholy end-of-summer vibe), then up to the Oosterscheldekering, lined with pumping stations which crews were busy maintaining, the bridge to Neeltje Jans. This stretch plied by many cyclists who get their own road beside the cars.
Last time I arrived here in the late afternoon and it clouded over. This time I've got the whole day (spending the night in nearby Middelburg), and it is now clouding over, though the sun breaks through randomly —like this moment. Many bodies on the beach today but it doesn't seem crowded. There's plenty of room at Neeltje Jans.
By some miracle my notebook has remained dry through this very wet morning. Probably because it was underneath my rain pants and hood, neither of which I donned through this morning's thunderstorms. The weatherman has been calling it right.
|Rainy approach to Vlissingen|
|Vlissingen to Terneuzen|
|East of Breskens|
|Banks of the Westerschelde|
Finally, on the way to kp 11, the path leaves the shore and enters a picturesque landscape, just before the chemical factories. This is Braakman (perhaps somehow related to Presa Brockman near El Oro, Estado de México), Noord reserve. And the sun comes out, and it's hot!