It is time for another hike on the Great rivers trail in the Netherlands. I am now busy with Variant A from the trail guide towards the Rottemeren. Today, I start in Gouderak, cross the Hollandsche IJssel river by ferry, walk along the IJssel and through the Zuidplaspolder to Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel. I then go to the Nesselande district of Rotterdam and finish my hike in Zevenhuizen. In the next hike, I will finally reach the Rottemeren.
From Gouderak to Moordrecht
I am back in Gouderak early in the morning. It is a cloudy day, so beautiful sunrise photos like in my previous hike are not possible today. I now have to go to Moordrecht and this town lies on the other side of the Hollandsche IJssel river. A ferry takes me to the other side. At the church square in Moordrecht, I have a quick look at the trail guide, because the red and white markings are not very clear here. I see that I have to walk around the church, then to another church and then cross the Ringvaart canal.
After the bridge across the Ringvaart canal, I turn left into the West Ringdijk. It is busy here with parents bringing their children to school, either by bicycle or by car. At the next drawbridge, I see a tall, stubby church tower on my left. I always see this tower in the distance from the train between Rotterdam and Gouda. I was always curious as to which town the tower belonged to, so now I know! The trail does not go past this church, but I want to take a good photo anyway, so I walk a little way in the direction of the church. The tower stands on top of the IJssel dike, which is why it overreaches everything!
Afterwards, I find out that this is not a church at all, but a water tower. The clock made me think it was a church. Secretly, I like that even better than a church. I already have enough photos of churches.
After taking the photo, I go back over the drawbridge and then turn left to continue along the Ringvaart canal. I walk along the West Ringdijk for quite a while until I reach the Boezem bridge. I cross this drawbridge and go left onto the IJssel dike.
Behind the dike is a large pumping station to keep the underlying polders dry. I read on an information panel that a fish pass has been built next to the pumping station to guide fish from the canal in the polder to the much higher lying IJssel river (and vice versa).
I walk along the cycle path on the side of the dike and have a view at the Zuidplaspolder, I hardly see the IJssel. But I am glad that I am walking on the cycle path, because the road on the dike is very busy.
A little later, I reach the residential area of Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel and cross the Ringvaart canal again. I have arrived at the train track and have to go under a tunnel to the other side of the track. I see a tunnel and go through it, but again, I have lost the markings. I take a look in the trail guide and see that I have taken a tunnel too early. Well, I have to go to Nieuwerkerk station anyway, which is also possible on this side of the tracks. I walk through a residential area where the leaves on the trees show that it is autumn, they have beautiful colours of yellow, orange and red. I would not have seen this if I had walked the right way 😄.
Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel
I walk past a market and a little further on I reach the railway station. After a short break, I turn right along the Kerklaan. I follow the trail markings to the right and cross a canal via a small drawbridge called the White bridge. This is the same kind of bridge as the earlier Boezem bridge.
I walk on a footpath along the canal. On the left-hand side of the road, I see a nice little house called Veldzicht which is for sale. At home, I find out how much it is for sale, not that I can buy a house, but I am just curious. It turns out that it is not such a small house after all, there is a large extension behind it. It is for sale for just under half a million. Keep on saving, Margrita 😅. The house does not have a view on the field (anymore), hence the name Veldzicht. Residential areas have been built in the course of time, both at the front and the back of the house.
I have heard that the lowest point in the Netherlands is in Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, which is 6.67 metres below sea level. At this point, there is a monument in the form of a seven-metre high measuring scale. The lowest point in the Netherlands lies a little further north from the trail, along the A20 motorway.
Source (in Dutch): Wikipedia
I continue walking along the canal and pass the old centre of Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel where the Old church is located. On the other side of the canal, I pass an old warehouse with Cooperative Agricultural Association on the front. I pass another little bridge, a yellow one this time. And this one is called, you guessed it, the Yellow Bridge.
Still walking along the canal, I pass under the A20 motorway via a tunnel. The residential areas of Nieuwerkerk are replaced by polders. Yet the residential areas of Rotterdam Zevenkamp and Nesselande are not far away either. On the horizon, tall residential towers and other flats can be seen.
As I write this blog, I realise that I have been walking along the same canal for almost the entire trail. Yet, I didn’t notice that on the way. I see a group of ducks floating in the canal. They are black ducks, with white flanks and a tuft on the back of their heads. They are tufted ducks, a species I have come across before during a walk on the Migration birds trail. Every time I come closer, the ducks fly a little ahead in front of me.
Male tufted ducks in particular are black and white in colour, the females are more brown. It is a common breeding bird in the Netherlands and is found mainly on freshwater lakes, reservoirs, ponds and quietly flowing, small rivers with lots of vegetation. The ducks feed mainly on shellfish and other small water animals, but also on water vegetation.
Source (in Dutch): Vogelbescherming
To my right, there are several farms, some goats are walking in the field, but I also see other woolly animals with long necks. They are alpacas! Of course, these do not live in the wild in the Netherlands, but are mainly kept for wool. You can also meet and pet the alpacas. You can make an appointment for this, but up to August the alpaca agenda is already fully booked. A popular activity!
The trail moves to the other side of the canal, now I have a better view of the farms on the other side. I immediately notice that I am getting closer to the city, because it is getting busier. I have arrived at Nesselande.
The street names within the residential area are derived from famous painters (who wouldn’t want to live on the Salvador Dali street), windmill owners and islands in the Mediterranean Sea (near the beach, of course). Since 2005, the residential area has been connected to Rotterdam’s metro network.
Source (in Dutch): Wikipedia
I hesitate to go home by metro in Nesselande, because I have had enough of hiking today. Nevertheless, I decide to continue to Zevenhuizen. From Nesselande, the next hike is about 20 km, which I find a bit too much. From Zevenhuizen it is already a substantial hike the next time.
I do take a slightly different path through Nesselande, because the actual trail goes along the same canal again. I walk past beautiful waterfront houses. Art objects have been placed in the water here and there. I see a weather vane with a goose on it instead of a rooster and a sea lion ‘swims’ in the water.
Up to now, I have only walked on paved paths and roads and I am ready for something different. To the north of Nesselande lies the Eendragtspolder, where various walking and cycling paths have been laid out. To get back on the trail, I walk across a swampy grassy path. It is only a few hundred metres, but that is already enough for me. It is difficult to walk when it is swampy and have to avoid puddles.
The last part is a long, straight road towards Zevenhuizen. Once again, I go past a drawbridge, this time a modern variant. About a kilometre further, I reach the edge of Zevenhuizen. Here is a panel with a photo of what Zevenhuizen used to look like at this location. I walk through the Dorpsstraat with its picturesque houses with thatched roofs. Near the church, I stop my hike for today. A good point to continue the next hike. Via the last cute little drawbridge – the theme of this hike – I walk towards the bus stop.
After a wonderful hike through the Loetbos last time, this hike was a bit of a let-down. I did enjoy it, but it was quite boring walking along the same canal. The places I passed weren’t very special either. I did like the many cute drawbridges and woolly alpacas. It was fun for one time, but I don’t have to do it again.
A walk around the Zevenhuizerplas is highly recommended by the way, but this was not part of this hike.
Where: from Gouderak to Zevenhuizen, Zuid-Holland, in the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 12 km
Hiking date: 30 October 2020
Materials used in illustrations: Coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for the other illustrations
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