It is April 12 (2021) and it is my birthday. What could be more fun than going for a hike on your birthday! This time, I am going to continue my way along the Great rivers trail in the Netherlands. I have now arrived in Leerdam and today, I will mostly walk along the Linge river until the town of Beesd. I will pass through several picturesque villages in the Betuwe region. And will I finally have the chance to see blossoms in the fruit trees?
At Leerdam station, there is an information panel about the New Holland Waterline. I would like to hike the associated trail someday, the Waterline trail (long distance trail 17 in the Netherlands). It seems very nice and interesting. I will put it on my to-hike list. But first, I want to finish this trail, I am not at the finish line yet.
Just opposite the station, I pick up the red and white markings. I have to go straight into the centre of Leerdam. On the square behind the city hall, there is an artwork of cubes with a glass object in each cube. Leerdam is therefore known as ‘Glass City’.
Since a glass factory was established in the 18th century, a large glass industry has developed. Today, you can visit the National Glass Museum with its own glass-blowing studio. Apart from glass, the Leerdammer cheese is also world-famous.
Source (in Dutch): Visit Utrecht region
I walk through the centre of Leerdam towards the marina. I pass a church and I look at the beautiful facades in the city. There is a funny little figurine sitting on one of the facades. At the marina, I have my first view of the Linge river. And that will certainly not be the last time on this trail. The Linge looks peaceful in the rising sun.
I continue to the right along the marina and a section of the old city wall of the former Leerdam castle. A small staircase up leads me to a pleasant little square. On the other side of a busy junction, I see a windmill, but that is not where my trail takes me. I have to go the other way.
Before the junction, I turn left, cross the Linge via a bridge and immediately turn left again on the other side of the water. I am now officially in the Betuwe region and also in a new province: Gelderland. I walk along the Oude Zuiderlingedijk with a view on the Linge river. Behind the dike are beautiful houses. On the other side of the river, the skyline of Leerdam is visible.
The road bends to the right and I walk across a dike with a view over the floodplains of the Linge river. Over there is also a footpath but I stay on the dike. I am enjoying this to the full. What a beautiful birthday hike.
The dike leads me into Asperen, first past a playground and then under a porch at the former Asperen Castle. The building is situated in a beautiful park with a band stand and a little further on is the Dutch Reformed Church.
In front of the church, I turn left and walk through picturesque, old streets and past another church. The sunlight shines brilliantly (literally and figuratively) through the stained-glass windows of the church.
In the meantime, the Linge river is coming into view again. My boyfriend asks via the app if I’ve been soaked yet, because it’s raining hard in Rotterdam. But I haven’t felt a single drop yet. I do see dark clouds in the distance. I hope I’ll stay ahead of the rain.
Other trail guide about the same region
I walk along Asperen’s city wall, called the Lingewal. At the bottom of the wall is a beautiful park, right next to the Linge river. A single tree shows its blossom. I hope to see blossoms in the orchards, but I am not there yet.
Oh my, the clouds are getting very dark, but it does make for a nice image!
After the town wall, I cast one last glance at Asperen and leave the town via the sluice. Now I am on the other side of the Linge again and in the distance the Fort at Asperen comes into sight.
I walk past a half-round shed and behind it the fort has a glass dome on the roof. At the gate of the fort, I take a break. A little bird is singing in the bushes behind me. It’s a wren, what a cute little bird. He twerks his butt for a moment and then flies off.
Past the fortress, I continue walking along the Langedijk. I look out over fields and the famous fruit orchards. The trees start to blossom, but it is not yet in full bloom. So, I have to wait another week. I pass a number of bunkers belonging to the water line. On one of the bunkers is a statue of some kind of monster, a combination of a panther and a dinosaur perhaps.
The leaning tower of Acquoy
Once more, I am coming close to the Linge. The village of Acquoy can already be seen in the distance, recognisable by its leaning tower. Once near Acquoy, some fruit trees along the river are in bloom. Yes, the first photo of blossoms and it’s on my birthday! I also come across the stickers of the wooden shoe trail Rhenoijschepad again, just like in the previous part of the Great rivers trail.
Then I reach the leaning church tower of Acquoy. It is separated from the ship of the church and indeed quite tilted. A fun fact is that someone named Pisa lies in the cemetery next to the church. Coincidence does not exist… On the bench near the church it is time for a break with, of course, a view at the Linge river.
In Acquoy, there are more beautiful dike houses. The river and the dike make a right turn and I have already left Acquoy.
For the first time on this trail, I’m going to take an off-road path in a nature reserve near the town of Rhenoy. Where do I know that name from again? Oh, the wooden shoes trail! And of course, I come across these markings here too. This trail is getting higher and higher on my to-hike list. In the nature reserve, I cross small bridges, boardwalk paths and grassy paths along waving reeds and willows. What a diverse trail, I love it!
In the distance I can see the little church of Rhenoy. The trail only touches this town. After the nature reserve and another fruit orchard I turn right and cross the Linge again via a bridge. After the bridge I immediately turn left onto the Lingedijk. I pass some beautiful farms and houses.
The river bends to the left, but the road goes straight on over the Molendijk, past many fruit orchards mixed with fields and woodlands. In the distance, I hear the sound of pheasants. From my previous hike, I know what these birds sound like.
Strolling along the long Linge river
The road rejoins the Linge river and I wont lose sight of this winding river until Beesd.
The Linge river is the longest river in the Netherlands, a total of 108 km. Linge therefore means ‘the long water’ in Old Dutch language. The river starts at the Pannerdensch Kanaal in the east of the country and is a man-made canal until Tiel. From Tiel, the original river, once a branch of the Waal river, begins and winds, meanders and twists its way through the landscape to Gorinchem. At the sluice in Gorinchem, the Linge flows into the Merwede river. What makes this river so enjoyable is that it never gets boring, after every bend you see something new!
Source (in Dutch): Lingestreek
And then I reach the town of Rumpt, with its many beautiful houses and a wonderful view over the Linge river.
I see a brown-grey bird sitting on a fence. It is a Dunnock, which I have not seen before. Another bird added to my list!
Due to its grey-brown colour, it is not a very remarkable bird and it resembles the old, familiar house sparrow the most. As its name suggests, it hides mainly in hedges and bushes. Although they are in my garden, and not necessarily in a hedge!
The bird nests from the end of April to August and can have 2-3 nests a year. The eggs are an even light blue/mint green colour. Several males can raise a nest, this is because both females and males can have several partners. I happened to make an illustration of a male Dunnock guarding his nest!
Source (in Dutch): Vogelbescherming
Rumpt is not a large town, but it does have two churches. I go down the Lingedijk to photograph them from close by.
Past Rumpt, it is only a short distance to my final destination in Beesd. Near Beesd, I cross the Linge river for the last time today. The clouds have turned a dark grey, I have been ahead of the rain so far, but I am afraid I won’t stay dry until I reach the station.
In Beesd, I decide to deviate from the trail and take my own path to the station. That was not a good idea, I should have just followed the trail in the booklet. Also, thick flakes of snow fall from the sky. I stayed ahead of the rain, but not the snow. It’s quite special that it snows on my birthday.
It is snowing more and more heavily and I take shelter for a while in a mini library in the shape of a red telephone booth. I search through the books, but don’t find anything interesting. I quickly make my way through a park and, via an enormous detour, arrive at Beesd station.
The next time, it is finally here: the blossoms will burst into bloom. And I’m in the heart of the Betuwe region, so I have planned it well.
I enjoyed this wonderful hike on my birthday! This part of the Great rivers trail brings you a lot of variety in the form of polders, orchards, a beautiful river and historic towns. Of course, it is most beautiful when the blossoms are in full bloom (or during the harvest season), but unfortunately I cannot give it an extra star rating.
The trail is almost entirely paved, but perhaps the Rhenoijsche (wooden shoe) trail is an alternative. I will certainly try this next year.
More info:Trail: Section 10 LAW 6 Great rivers trail
Where: from Leerdam to Beesd, Utrecht/Gelderland, the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 14 km
Hiking date: 12 April 2021
Materials used in illustrations: Coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for other illustrations
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