It is once again time for a hike on the Great rivers trail. Moreover, I want to complete all parts of this path on Dutch soil this year (2021). So the upcoming blogs are all about this long-distance trail. This time, I have combined two shorter sections (of about 11 km) into one blog post. Two separate blog posts seemed a bit redundant. These two sections go from Ochten to Hemmen and from Hemmen to Herveld-Zuid. All sorts of towns that mean nothing to me beforehand and which are all located near great river the Waal.
Part 1: Ochten – Hemmen
The section of the Great rivers traul between Ochten and Hemmen is the last hike in my August 2021 holiday. In my previous hike on this path, I ended in Ochten. There I pick up the thread at the Waalbandijk. Last time, there had been high water and I did not dare to go through the floodplains. Today I take my chances and walk down the dike towards the river and the floodplains.
Along the way, I encounter all sorts of things. I see two horses coming towards me curiously, further on there are tall trees with birds that are difficult to distinguish and a farmer is just leading his cows to another place. As always, things are not progressing.
The Waal rivers is now a lot closer. I turn left on a semi-paved path. It is more passable than I expected. I do have to dodge some puddles. I enjoy the beautiful views of the Waal river and the floodplains in the Ochtense Buitenpolder.
The road curves towards the dike and I pass a camping ground. I then turn towards the river again and walk straight through cornfields. This way, the path is pretty diverse.
After the cornfields, I walk up the Waalbandijk near Dodewaard again. As in the previous hike, I come across one of those lovely little dike churches. I photograph it from all sides.
I follow the trail behind the church down the dike, away from the river and past a large mansion. I walk through a small nature reserve with narrow paths and small bridges. I don’t find it very special. However, special is the willow with a berry bush growing out of it!
Not much later, I am back on the Waalbandijk at café de Engel. For now, this is the last time I get to see the Waal river.
The next town with a nice little church, Hien, is up next. I take a quick photo, as the church is right on a bend where many trucks drive past.
From here, I leave the Waal river behind me. Apart from some nice houses, it becomes a boring hike from now on. I walk along a straight road towards the A15 motorway and across a train track. I thought the Hemmen-Dodewaard station would be here, but it’s a bit further. Once at the station, I give up. It’s enough for today. Soon I will go back for the next section. That turns out to be about a month later.
Part 2: Hemmen – Herveld-Zuid
On 1 October 2021, I start at Hemmen-Dodewaard station and walk up to Herveld-Zuid. I don’t have such high expectations of this part of the trail beforehand, but it’s not too bad. Just after the station, I get to walk over a narrow gravel path along a railway track and hawthorn hedges through Hemmen Estate.
I walk along winding paths and through avenues of trees on the estate. I walk past meadows, fields and fruit orchards. What a diverse estate this is.
I see a little black bird with a red-orange breast, it’s a stonechat! Another bird I can tick off my checklist.
The stonechat male is easily recognised by its black head, white neck sides and a bright orange breast. The female is less distinctive with a brown head and wings. The orange breast is the same though.
The bird is mainly found on heatherlands, in dunes, rough, open marshlands and semi-open farmland. The nesting season begins in March with up to three clutches per season of usually 4 to 6 eggs.
Source (in Dutch): Vogelbescherming
I am almost in the town of Hemmen. Across the road is a beautiful park with a pond and a cute little bridge. The park later turns out to be a castle garden.
However, I do not enter the park. First I go through Hemmen via narrow streets. Hemmen also has a little church, and a carving in the shape of a tulip.
After the church, I enter the castle garden after all through a small fence. I walk along a beautiful beech avenue with huge trees. A little further on, a ruin comes in view; this must have been the castle. It is enclosed by a fence. I am able to take a good photo between the bars.
Further on, I have to turn right along a canal. This turns out to be the Linge canal. I did not expect to see the Linge again. It is now a perfectly straight canal, no longer a meandering river. Along the canal is a nice little brick cottage.
On my other side is a field where Lakenvelder cows are grazing; there is even a calf. The calf has the same pattern as mummy, but brown. Very cute!
Then I continue along fields, with or without sheep and separated by hawthorn hedges. I leave Hemmen via the Zettenseweg, heading for, you guessed it: Zetten. I pass lots of beautiful houses.
Then I first walk past Zetten-Andelst station and through the town centre of Zetten. The centre of Zetten is not very interesting, so I walk on quickly. Along the way, I come across more pretty houses.
Just outside Zetten, I head along long, paved roads through the polder towards the next town, Herveld-Noord. I have left the fruit orchards behind me. Now it is time for tree plantations. There are rows of all kinds of trees everywhere. I also see the first signs of autumn.
I cross a train track. Just after the track, at the beginning of a farmyard, there is a stall with products for sale. I buy a small pumpkin, which is not too heavy to carry. I walk through Herveld-Noord with more large houses. Just before Herveld-Zuid, I decide to take the bus here. The weather does not look good and the next stop is 10 km away. Once on the bus, it starts raining heavily.
I only have two more sections of the Great rivers trail to go. I will return for the next section within a week already.
Both the part between Ochten and Hemmen, and the part between Hemmen and Herveld-Zuid were more fun than expected. The Ochtense Buitenpolder is quite versatile, with beautiful views and endless cornfields. The Hemmen estate I found surprisingly nice. It is definitely worth a visit. There were some boring roads to cover, though.
Where: from Ochten to Hemmen and from Hemmen to Herveld-Zuid, Gelderland, the Netherlands.
No. of km: both parts about 11 km
Hiking date: 30 August and 1 October 2021
Materials used in illustrations: Coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for other illustrations
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