Friday, November 22, 2019

Staverden Route

Today is Monday and I'm taking one more ride. Significantly cooler, around 14 degrees C, and cloudy. But it's the last day of decent weather. So I'm taking my keuzedag (day of free travel on NS rail) and traveling all the way to Nunspeet (between Amersfoort and Zwolle) for a tour of the Veluwe forest.

(original date of this entry: Oct 22, 2018)
The circuit, called the Staverden route, was mostly ho-hum until the Leuvenumse Bos, which was dense and mysterious, as well as a thrilling ride over an undulating trail. The two towns I saw, Vierhouten and Elspeet, were dull as only Dutch towns can be.

kp 13-29
This skirted the A28 but at a reasonable distance and made for a nice initial jaunt, the sun dappling my head through the trees. I didn't mind the highway drone. My iPod's battery was dead unfortunately.

kp 29-18
Here you enter the forest proper, though it's a bit too well-tended to be called a forest. More like a large park. A straight strip of asphalt flanked by rows of birches. At 18, I stray off the route and go a bit further south to visit "Het Verscholen Dorp." This was a hideout in the forest for onderduikers (like Anne Frank). I got to see one semi-underground hut in a good state of preservation. An explanatory board says some 80 to 100 Jews and other families resided here from 1942-4, taking shelter in a set of nine huts. As a monument back along the main route attests, the Nazis found out about it somehow--must have been tipped off by law-abiding Dutch citizens--and eight were shot in the vicinity. They had to dig their own graves first.

This neck of the woods must be some kind of tourist attraction: the place was busy with families and dogs.

Staverden Route
kp 18-16-15-14-40
Vierhouten is a sort of holiday center in the middle of the forest. A few caf├ęs were open but as usual nothing appealed to me so I kept going. Outside Vierhouten the landscape opens on the typical sandy wasteland/heath of the Veluwe and other Dutch national parks. The forested bits are carefully managed here with stacks of pine logs which emit a pleasant aroma. There's a nice rough-hewn picnic table and I have a sandwich. Then I cycle through the Elspeetsche Heide for a while and it's sunny and open. Midway I come to another of the area's low-key attractions: a reproduction of a prehistoric tomb that was located here.

The town of Elspeet was dull and noisome. Besides, the knooppunten are excessive and confusing and you have to mix it up with large vehicles.

kp 89-87-86-67-83
West of Elspeet the route then skirts a road and passes the Kasteel Staverden (the eponymous route title) with associated brasserie. At kp 67 I finally left the dull drone of traffic behind and entered a rather forlorn rural landscape. kp 83 is at the edge of the Ermelosche Heide.

kp 83-84-85-51-42-53
This, as I said, was the highlight of the journey, though I was already tired and hungry and a little cold. But this was the real forest, the Leuvenumse Bos, still and deserted, dense, the path littered with dead leaves.

Then I go over the A28 and could head for Harderwijk (6km) or Nunspeet (8km). I choose the latter to complete the circuit, and it's a lovely stretch along meadows and up through forest.

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