Today I continue my hike on the Great rivers trail in the Netherlands. This hike starts at the Loetbos, I call it the Loet woodlands in English from now on. I first take a small round trip through the woodlands (not by following a trail, but a path I planned out myself) and then continue with Variant A from the trail booklet towards the Rottemeren. My hike goes through the polders of the Berkenwoudse Boezem and I end up in Gouderak, the Rottemeren is still a bit too far for now.
The Loet woodlands or a fairytale forest?
In my previous hike on the Great rivers trail, I went through the western part of the Loet woodlands. I found it rather boring, so I am curious to see if the extra round trip through the eastern part is more interesting. This part of the woodlands is a bit bigger and autumn has finally kicked in. So I am expecting a lot of fallen leaves and different kind of mushrooms. Will my expectations be fulfilled?
When I get off the bus at the Loet woodlands, it is just starting to get lighter and there is a thick layer of mist over the fields. Once I cross the N201 motorway, I first walk along a small lake. The mist and the lighted windows of the house on the other side of the lake give it a mysterious and fairytale-like atmosphere. My hike can’t go wrong any more! It is a pity that I did not have this weather last time at the Kinderdijk windmills.
The Loetbos is a man-made recreation forest in the Krimpenerwaard area, located just north from Lekkerkerk in the Netherlands. There are many paths for hiking and cycling in the woods. You can also hire boats and canoes to explore the area by water. Staatsbosbeheer has marked out various trails (see further down in this blog). There is also a TOP (Toeristisch Overstap Punt or Toerist Transfer Point in English) from which a number of cycling and hiking trails have been set out.
Source (in Dutch): hollandgroen.nl
After passing the lake, I immediately turn right and walk along the little Loet river again. I pass a small shed and a platform with rowing boats. Everything has a fuzzy, blue haze because of the mist and I gaze around as far as I can see.
At the next intersection, I turn right and cross a small bridge. The birches in the woods have golden coloured leaves and silvery coloured trunks. I feel as if I am in a Tolkien story. This is exactly how I imagine a fantasy world, but now it is real!
I walk along winding paths through the woodlands. The sounds of the N201 motorway, which is not far from the woodlands, also seem to be considerably muted by the mist. Or am I just telling myself that because of the fairytale-like atmosphere?
There also seems to be a giant mole ‘living’ in the Loet woodlands, I haven’t come across it this time. It must be under the ground today, like moles do (the mole is somewhere, I just didn’t walk past it this time, next time I will see it for sure).
I go through the Loet woodlands on my own planned trail, mainly along the paths closest to the N201 motorway, and then I walk back along the cycle path north of the woodlands. In this way I don’t have to take the same route twice.
I pass through a clearing in the woodlands, where there are many fruit trees. These will blossom beautifully in the spring.
By the way, there is an ‘edible’ hiking trail on the website of Staatsbosbeheer. This trail passes all the fruit and nut trees that grow in the Loet woodlands, and you are even allowed to pick from the trees. The trail is 3.1 km long and you can follow the orange markings through the forest. At the moment, there is no fruit left on the trees right now, they are already starting to go bare. But I do have a wonderful view with the rising sun.
After a few more winding paths, I arrive at the parking lot on the other side of the woodlands. From here, the main trails of the Great rivers trail turns left in the direction of Bergambacht. I myself am going back into the Loet woodlands. But not before taking a break on a picnic bench. Near the picnic bench is an American windmill peeping through the trees.
My break does not last long, as I want to get back into the woodlands before the mist is gone. I walk on the cycle path along the Loet river on my left. On the right, I can see the polders of the Berkenwoudse Boezem. Everything is still covered in a layer of mist.
A little further on, I can turn left and cross a small bridge to go back into the woodlands. As always, the hike does not go so fast. I am on the way for an hour and only half way back. Of course, I am looking around me a lot to see if I can spot special birds, animals or mushrooms. There are supposed to be spoonbills and beavers living in the woods, but I haven’t seen them. There are also several blue heron colonies breeding here, and I did see a lot of these birds. But you see herons everywhere, so that’s not very special.
I do spot a fly agaric. There is no sign of Gnome Spillebeen. But the mushroom with the red and white dots is not entirely undamaged anymore, so who knows, maybe he stopped by to hop back and forth (to stay with the fairytale forest theme 😄). Gnome Spillebeen comes from a Dutch rhyme by the way, so it might not make sense to you 😄.
I also take a photo of an orange-brown mushroom that I can’t identify.
Further on, I see a figure standing between the trees. It looks like an ent! You know, the talking and walking trees from The Lord of the Rings. One of my favourite creatures from the book/movie. What a strange sight! It appears to be a carving of a tree and I think it belongs to the Play trail for kids. This is also a hiking trail of Staatsbosbeheer, it is 1.6 km long and you follow the purple markings through the woodlands.
In addition to the Play trail, there is also a Nature trail, again provided by Staatsbosbeheer. This one is also 1.6 km long and you follow the green markings.
The Berkenwoudse Boezem
When I have completed the entire round trip through the woods, it is time to continue with the official trail Variant A towards the Rottemeren. I leave the woodlands and walk further through the polders of the Berkenwoudse Boezem.
The mist has mostly cleared and in its place a very bright low-hanging sun can be seen. It casts long shadows over the road. For quite a few kilometres I walk along a wide canal, called the Molenvliet.
There is little traffic, only an occasional cyclist is cycling against the sun. Just before walking straight ahead starts to get boring, the trail turns right. From here on, the trail follows a grassy path. I first take a short break on a bench, before I cross over to the grassy path. There is a cow in the middle of the grass path on my right, but fortunately I have to go left. Since a cow started to prance when I passed her, I am more careful with passing cows. And when I have a whole herd on my way, I prefer to go the same way back. The grassy path is easy to walk on, although I have to dodge the occasional cow pile of poop. Along this path, I have a beautiful view over the Krimpenerwaard.
Tiendweg towards Gouderak
After a farm, I turn right into the Tiendweg. This is a standard polder road lined with Pollard Willows and Black Alders. It is now getting busier with cyclists and pedestrians. I walk past cream-coloured cows and several storks. I can’t remember the storks by the way, but judging by the photos, they were really there! The Tiendweg is a fairly long road towards Gouderak, which is the most boring part of today. After one last break, I continue along the Tiendweg. I cross the Stolwijkse Boezem and just past a small forest, the residential areas of Gouderak are showing up.
I turn left and a little later I have reached Gouderak. My hike is finished for today, so I go and look for the nearest bus stop. The bus is not coming yet, so I walk around Gouderak for a bit. The church in Gouderak needs to be photographed, as does a small lake behind the IJsseldijk. I can’t find any information about the lake, but I assume it is a wiel, a lake created by a breach in the dyke. On the other side of the dyke, I take a last photo of the Hollandsche IJssel. This trail is not called the Great rivers Trail for nothing. This is the largest river I have encountered today.
This is quite simply the most beautiful hike of the Great rivers trail so far. This was of course due to the weather, but the Loet woodland (or fairy tale forest) stole my heart. Even without the mist, the Loet woodlands is a nice place to be. Highly recommended! Because of the low-hanging sun it was also nice to be in the Berkenwoudse Boezem. So hereby the first five-star rating hike of the Great rivers trail. Without the misty morning, I would probably have given it a four star rate.
Where: from Loetbos near Lekkerkerk to Gouderak, Zuid-Holland, in the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 15 km
Hiking date: 23 October 2020
Materials used in illustrations: Coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for the other illustrations
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