Not as well known as Amsterdam maybe, but the Betuwe region is one that is worth a visit.
An unexpected day off calls for a day trip. At least, that’s my personal motto. So I rang up a friend, picked out a station-to-station walking route, and off we went. The weather was absolutely gorgeous today (probably the last nice day for now), and there were no delays on the train. We couldn’t wish for more.
We decided to head out towards Geldermalsen, a small village in the heart of the Betuwe. The Betuwe region in the province of Gelderland is well-known for its fruit production, the Waal and Rhine/Lek rivers, the Linge stream and the dikes. The hiking route we took today ran from Geldermalsen to Beesd and followed the Linge stream. We walked on top of the dikes while we saw the Linge meander on our left.
When to visit de Betuwe
The best time to visit this region is April/May when the trees are blossoming and showing off their bright pink and purple colors. That means that we were about a month too early to witness this art of nature, but that didn’t make the route less interesting. On the contrary even. The robust tree trunks were in strong contrast with the green grass and the grey-ish colors of the stream below us. That was a beautiful sight. There’s also plenty of wildlife. We even saw a stork flying above us. This bird specie is relatively rare in the Netherlands, so we were excited to see one!
Sights to see along the way
Then there’s another thing that is striking about this area: the dike houses which are beautiful. Typical for these kind of houses is that they have large shutters and come in all types of colors. One house we passed seemed to come straight from a children’s fairy tale book. The shutters and wooden panels just below the roof where painted in a soft shade of blue. Furthermore, on top we found lovely red hearts. It reminded me of the candy house from the Hansel and Gretel story.
The route was easy to follow (I printed a brief route description at home), and we had plenty of time to chat. We hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks, and there was a lot we needed to catch up on. In the meantime I was taking my pictures, and during the rare few minutes that we both were quiet, we were surprised about the sense of peace that surrounded this place. It really was perfect.
After about 1.5 hours of walking, we reached another milestone in our hike. We arrived at Landgoed Heerlijk Mariënwaerdt: an estate of about 900 hectares (1236 acres). The estate is owned by the same family since 1734. On the property you can find 3 mansions, 17 farms and 40 (!) listed historical buildings. We noticed on the signs that visitors are allowed to access the grounds. However, since it seemed like there was no one around but us, it felt a bit like trespassing. Luckily no one sent their dogs after us!
While we were wandering around exploring the area, our tummy’s started to rumble. We knew it was time to find a place to enjoy a late lunch. On our route to the train station in Beesd we found a typical Dutch ‘pancakehouse’. Once there, we both ordered a delicious pancake with raisins, apple and syrup and enjoyed a nice cuppa. Everything on the menu of pancakehouse De Stapelbakker is made of organic ingredients, and it’s possible to buy organic jam and cheese in the store next to the restaurant as well.
When we had fully charged our inner batteries, we continued our hike to the train station. This was only a five minute walk from the restaurant. Not ready yet to head back home, we decided to make a short stop in Leerdam: one of the famous cheese cities. The city is still partly surrounded by a fortified wall that used to protect Leerdam from invaders. When you walk alongside these walls you can still see some of the defensive towers, as well as a windmill and the pleasure boats in the little harbour.
When it started to get a bit chilly, we went inside for a final coffee before we headed back to the train station. Our feet hurt, but we were content. A great way to spent an unexpected day off!
Duration: 2hrs without stopping (9km/6miles)
Start: Geldermalsen train station
End: Beesd train station
Are you just as into walking as I am? Then do not forget to check out more from the Walk the Walk series.