After three times hiking on the Migration birds trail in a row, it is now the turn of the Great rivers trail again. The last time, I ended in Ameide. That is therefore my starting point for today. I walk along the river Lek, through the Zouweboezem nature reserve and via Lexmond through the polder to a suburb of Vianen. I pass several fruit orchards and am curious to see whether there is already some blossoms on the trees.
Ameide and the Lek river
It has been three months since I hiked a section of the long-distance hike the Great rivers trail. I am looking forward to the next part of the trail, because from now on, I will often be walking along fruit orchards and the blossom season is about to begin.
So, I start in Ameide and immediately I have a splendid view of the river Lek and behind me a nice little square behind the Lekdijk. It is chilly, but the sun is shining and it is nice hiking weather.
Before I did a hike called the Willige Langerak trail on the other side of the Lek river, which I have reported about in detail.
It is quite busy on the dike with cars, so I often stand on the verge to let the cars pass. The view of the floodplain makes up for a lot.
The Lekdijk makes a sharp turn to the left and I am in the small township of Sluis. Here is an information panel about the Battle of the Lekdijk. On the website of the Oude Hollandse Waterlinie there is a nice trail that passes here: the Twee Provinciën (two provinces) trail.
After another stretch on the dyke, I can turn left towards the Zouweboezem nature reserve. First, I walk past several houses and fruit orchards. Unfortunately, there is no blossom on the trees yet, although I can see some buds on the branches. It will take a few more weeks for the blossom to appear. Later on the Great rivers trail, I will pass through the Betuwe region, which is famous for fruit production, so I will have plenty of chances to see the blossoms.
Behind the houses, I see a stork’s nest with two storks on it. The birds do have a good sense of spring!
Zouweboezem nature reserve
Then the Zouweboezem nature reserve comes into view. The paved road changes into a muddy path. On my right I see mainly reeds, with occasional glimpses of the water. From a platform, there is a beautiful view of a small lake.
The Zouweboezem is an extensive nature reserve with marshlands and reed beds and is located between Ameide and Lexmond. Various species of birds find their home here, such as the purple heron, black tern, spotted crake, Savi’s warbler, Cetti’s warbler and marsh harrier. The Zouweboezem served as a reservoir for excess water from the surrounding polders. The nature reserve is under management by Zuid-Hollands Landschap.
Source (in Dutch): Zuid-Hollands Landschap
On the left, I have a view of more orchards and polders. I arrive at a bird-watching hut, where I immediately take a break. You can get a good view of the polders from here. Near the hut, there are information signs about nesting black terns. Zuid-Hollands Landschap, which maintains this nature reserve, makes small wooden rafts on which the birds like to nest. Unfortunately, I do not see any black terns or rafts.
The path narrows a little and is now bordered by the well-known pollard-willows, at least for me. Further on, I can see a windmill, but I won’t get close to it. I have to turn left via a narrow path, then across a small stream and then immediately left again onto the Lakerveldse Molenkade. This path is a lot more slippery, so I have to be careful.
There are also willows and alders along this path, some of them are already forming buds. On both sides, I have a view over the fields. I follow the bend in the road to the right. Small birds are flying around me, these are long-tailed tits! Of course, they do not sit still for a photo.
The path now becomes the Molenkade and there are a few more trees and bushes. This is also where I pass other hikers going in the opposite direction. Of course I politely say hello. On my left I can see a long, tall row of trees. A flock of starlings flies from tree to tree.
On to Lexmond
The muddy path turns into a grass dike and further on I have to turn left towards the Lek river again. I go over the property of a farm and onto the Lekdijk again. I now see on the website of Wandelnet that there is a change in the trail towards Lexmond. The trail does not go back to the Lekdijk (perhaps the farmer has complained about many hikers on his property), but from the south you enter Lexmond.
I myself go via the Lekdijk towards Lexmond. Here I can take a path in the flood plains. This is a little more difficult, sloping down the dike and with some soggy patches now and then, but at least there are no cars racing past. Again, I have beautiful views of the flood plains and the Lek river.
Near Lexmond, I cannot go any further in the flood plains and I go up the dike again. I walk straight into Lexmond. On the square near the church, I take a break. A white wagtail is busy catching flies.
After my break I go back to the dike for the last bit along the Lek. A little later I have to turn right over a grass dike with willows on both sides. I cross a secondary road and then I walk again on a grassy path. The willows have been replaced by tall trees. At a certain point, I walk along the water called the Oude Zederik. The sun shimmers in the water.
At the end of the path I reach the Merwede canal. At the corner of the path and the canal I check where it is best to stop with my hike. Sometimes it is quite a task to figure out where I can take public transport. I could walk further to Hei- en Boeicop, but there it is only possible to order a bus in advanced. That didn’t really work out last time. Another option is Vianen. I only have to follow the road next to the canal and I end up in Vianen. There I can take a bus. This is the most convenient option for me.
At the Bolgerijnse bridge the trail goes to the right. This will be my starting point for the next part of the Great rivers trail.
For now I’m going straight ahead over the Panoven street to a residential area in Vianen. Along the way I see some bushes with small white flowers. So I did see blossoms today after all!
When I reach Vianen I can immediately catch a bus, but I am in the wrong bus. I have to go in opposite direction! I quickly get off the bus and not much longer the bus going in the other direction shows up.
Next time, I have a tough hike ahead of me of more than 20 km to Leerdam.
This was a fine hike with as highlights the Lek river and its flood plains and the Zouweboezem nature reserve. I’m glad there were no long, straight roads in this part, that made this hike a lot more pleasant. In short, a three star rating this time.
Where: from Ameide to Vianen, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 13 km
Hiking date: 19 March 2021
Materials used in illustrations: Coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for other illustrations
I have recently renamed the 3-star hikes to Fine hikes. The 5, 4, 2 and 1-star hikes will also get their own title. In this way, I am collecting the best (and not so best) hikes together. I will be adding the hikes to these categories retrospectively in the near future, with matching photos for you to save on Pinterest.
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