Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reeuwijkse Land

67-90-33-94 (Woerden-Bodegraven)

Last day of July, another hot muggy cloudy day, not unlike DC, and I'm out rolling along the Oude Rijn which, though pretty, feels rather dull and suburban. The river is wide here with parts of it almost entirely covered with green vegetable matter like a pale green carpet. Along the other side runs a road with fairly constant traffic. I've gone along the river since leaving Woerden. Most of the way the trail skirts the river and all along it is lined with old houses with riverside terraces. This is the way to Bodegraven, my first destination. Haven't been this way before so I thought I'd have a look ... Woerden is just half an hour by train from Amsterdam Muiderpoort. It's already 5ish; the route is a relatively light 35 km. It is the "Reeuwijkse Plassen" route, named for the lakes northeast of Gouda. 

(original date of this entry: July 31, 2014)


Bodegraven is a suitably quaint Rhine-side town but the ice cream stand looks unappealing. Here the
tangle of roads and traffic continues -- a densely populated zone, the Randstad -- but as always it is admirable how you can cycle through it so seamlessly. 

The route (plus the ride to and from Woerden)

Heading south from Bodegraven there is some inconsistency with the map. (At 19 you must turn right to go down the LF-2 (toward Gouda) to point 18, but this knooppunt does not show up on any map, not even the one posted on the trail at 20.) Basically you want to follow LF2a to 20, then turn right to kp 21/45. The transition into the absolutely undeveloped reserve is gewelding (wonderful). 

The beauty of the knooppunt network is that you don't need directions, but you must be able to rely on signage at key points. If they're missing (or damaged or overgrown with grass), then you may miss a turn and end up somewhere else. I have informed the cycling infrastructure authorities of the odd discrepancy by reporting it on the Nederlands Fietsland site ... and if you see a sign down or missing, you should too. (I believe they actually have responded to my report.)

You skirt the south end of the lake known as the Reeuwijkse Meer, with large fancy homes between trail and lake, each with front moats planted with hydrangea. To the right lies the Goudse Hout, an 83-hectare forested reserve. At kp 47 is a fancy restaurant outdoor terrace, crowded on a hot afternoon.

47-48-49 Reeuwijkse Plassen. 

The path extends into the lake, or between lakes, though it doesn't feel like a proper causeway, since it is flanked by woods and houses. The lake is old and these peopleways long-established. My cycle guidebook notes that this region (like so many others in this boggy land) was once cut up like a large pie for the underlying turf, which served as fuel for homes and factories. The stuff was mined like coal and provided a livelihood for generations of turf-cutters. (Certainly someone should have recorded the field hollers of those humble laborers, the stuff of folk revivalists.)

At kp 49, I find a nice bench at a little park on the edge of the lake, very peaceful with a drinking water fountain. Obviously this is a good birding spot, many waterfowl swooping and feeding. Looking at the map, I realize it is a group of a dozen or so lakes, rectilinearly partitioned from one another like farm fields. 

"Moist grasslands with small-scale agriculture form an ideal breeding ground for such wading birds as black-tailed godwits, curlews and redshank." 

Reeuwijkse Land
It's after 7 pm but I can take the rest of the route back at a leisurely pace. East of the lake is Reeuwijkse Land, which feels extremely rural being so close to a city (Gouda). You can hear the fish jumping in the creek which leads across a pasture to a windmill. A walking trail leads there. In no time I am heading for kp 34/Woerden. Last stretch on a rural lane has been lovely.

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