Hiked: April 21, 2016
You can download a map, route description (in Dutch) and GPS coördinates for this hike here (NS-wandeling Mariënwaerdt-Linge).
My plans for Thursday were unexpectedly canceled late on Wednesday afternoon and since the weather forecast for Thursday was great, it wasn’t hard to decide how I’d spend it: a hike in the Betuwe region, a region in the center of the Netherlands known for its fruit orchards, where the fruit trees are blossoming now.
As I got off the train in Geldermalsen before 9am, it was still chilly, but already very sunny. Soon, I was walking through Tricht, the first of several small, cosy villages I would pass on my hike. Past Tricht, I followed a quiet country road through the fields and past orchards filled with trees that were already tentatively blossoming, but hadn’t exploded into a sea of white flowers just yet. Many other fruit trees along the road were already in full bloom. The pink flowers of the apple trees were just starting to show.
It was getting warmer fast. The birds were singing and the roadside was bright yellow with the flowers of rapeseed. I followed the road on top of a dike along the Linge river with beautiful views across the river and the forelands. It was still fairly early in the morning, but slowly the number of cyclists enjoying the beautiful weather was increasing. I passed the Mariënwaerdt Estate, a large country estate built on the site of a medieval monastery that has been owned by the same family since 1734. The estate itself seems worth a visit with its walking routes through the area, several restaurants and a shop selling local products.
Not long after passing the entrance to Mariënwaerdt, I left the road and followed a footpath along the edge of a small forest, still following the course of the Linge river. I enjoyed the sight of the bright, fresh green of the new chestnut leaves on the trees and the ivy on the ground. Before too long, I felt tarmac under my feet again. I briefly left the Linge river to pass through the village of Beesd, but right on the other side, my companion for the day was back. By now, it was warm enough to take off my coat – the first time this year! For several kilometers I followed the course of the river again, passing fields and some orchards.
Near the village of Rhenoy, I had to walk along a busy road for a bit. I crossed the Linge river and soon after left the traffic behind and followed a narrow road on a dike to the village of Acquoy, another small, picturesque village. After Acquoy, I followed a dust road towards the village of Asperen. The road itself was very nice, but there were so many cyclists by now, that I almost felt pushed off the road at times. Just outside Asperen, I passed the Asperen Fortress (link in Dutch), an old fortress that is closed in winter as it serves as a hibernation site for bats, but is open to the public the rest of the year, housing art exhibitions and a café. The outdoor terrace of the fortress’ cafe was packed with people enjoying the nice weather.
The route took me through Asperen, along its old defense walls and via a nice footpath to Leerdam. In the center of Leerdam, I briefly lost the route before I realized that, yes indeed, I was really supposed to make my way across the outdoor terrace filled with people having lunch in the sun! On the other side of the terrace were narrow stairs leading to a quay along the water and a small marina. From there, it was only a short walk to the Leerdam train station.
I thoroughly enjoyed this hike, even though at the same time, it did get a tiny bit boring. For me, there was too much tarmac, too much sharing the road with cyclists and cars and too many villages along the way – even though those same villages offer plenty of opportunity for a break in one of the many nice cafés with open-air terraces that I passed. If you’ve read along on this blog, you have probably figured out by now, that for me the less tarmac and the fewer traces of civilization, the better. However, those are of course my personal preferences and I would still highly recommend the hike for a gorgeous spring day when the fruit trees are in bloom.