It has been about a year since I hiked a section of the Migration birds trail in the Netherlands. Last time I ended in Hollandsche Rading. It is about time for another hike on this beautiful trail. Today, I will visit the towns of Lage Vuursche, Soest and Soesterberg, with many paths through the forest and along the heatherlands in bloom. At the last minute, I will also walk through the Soesterberg airbase park.
To the left or right at Hollandsche Rading?
By sunrise, I am already in Hollandsche Rading. Unfortunately, there is little to see of the sunrise with all those trees. That’s what happens in the summer…
Using the approach trail, I immediately go the wrong way. What else is new?! I walk into a narrow forest path, but it leads me to a camping site. First I turn back and then left. I should have gone right, but I find out too late. I now follow the markings of the Utrecht trail (regional trail 13) to Lage Vuursche.
Once at Lage Vuursche, I find an information panel of the Migration birds trail. I am back on the right track! Not much later, I am in the village of Lage Vuursche itself, with many pancake restaurants.
Soon, following the right trail, I dive into the forest once more. Somewhere here must also be Drakesteijn castle, where Royal Princess Beatrix lives. I haven’t seen the castle and am past the estate before I know it.
Other trail guide about the same region
I come across some signs from other hiking trails, which are noted for another time. Who knows, maybe I’ll catch a glimpse of the castle then.
Trip to the Stulp
Just before Pijnenburg estate, I once again deviate from the trail, this time it is a planned trip. I walk a little to the right towards nature reserve de Stulp and in particular the viewpoint over the Pluismeer (lake). A nice touch is that here I encounter the first flowering heather of the day!
The trip is at most a few hundred metres off the trail and well really worth it. This is because I have a beautiful view over the Pluismeer with different shades of green, brown and purple. I take a break on one of the benches to take in the view.
Behind me, I hear sounds of birds and I do see two robins sitting on the posts of a fence.
The European robin is a small, brown bird with a distinctive orange-red breast. The female and male look the same. The robin lives mainly solitary, with the exception of the breeding season, and defends its territory with fervour. The bird is found everywhere in the Netherlandse where there are trees.
The robin makes its nest on the ground and breeds from April into June with as many as two clutches per year. The eggs are blue-white in colour with small red spots.
Source (in Dutch): Vogelbescherming
By the way, I did not see many different birds during this hike. After all, there are fewer species to see in summer, also because they are hidden among the foliage. Below is the checklist of all the birds I saw during this hike.
|Birds I saw between Hollandsche Rading and Soesterberg|
|✔ Barn swallow||✔ Eurasian blackcap||✔ European robin|
|✔ Carrion crow||✔ Eurasian blue tit||✔ Great spotted woodpecker|
|✔ Common blackbird||✔ Eurasian green woodpecker||✔ Great tit|
|✔ Common pheasant||✔ Eurasian jay||✔ House martin|
|✔ Common starling||✔ Eurasian magpie||✔ Song thrush|
|✔ Common wood pigeon||✔ Eurasian nuthatch||✔ Western jackdaw|
Pijnenburg estate, Op Hees nature reserve and Soesterduinen
I walk back towards Pijnenburg estate. I go through a small gate; cyclists are not allowed here. Then I walk along the forest edge with a few pretty farmhouses and other retreats.
I cross a busy road and at ‘t Spiehuis I walk along a gravel path straight ahead. I am now in Op Hees nature reserve and, judging by the signs, this is maintained by Natuurmonumenten. Via a nice, unpaved avenue of trees, I walk between the meadows and eventually arrive at Soest.
I touch Soest only briefly and at a railway crossing I am already in the forest again. Further on are the Soesterduinen. The trail only goes along the dunes, but I stop by anyway. After all, there is heather in bloom here too. The bees, butterflies and other insects are also happy with the heather, as it buzzes and hums around me.
And on with the trail. I have to pay attention, though, because the Merchant trail (LAW3) crosses the Migration birds trail here. Fortunately, the name is on the markings. Using the cycle path, I continue walking through the forest until I reach the Paltz estate. Herman van Veen’s (a Dutch famous artist) Arts Centre is located here, among other things. I don’t enter this estate, but have to turn right to another special place: Soesterberg Air Base.
This former airbase has been transformed into a beautiful place for recreation. You can find many hiking and cycling trails, sprint along the former runway or admire aircraft and other military heritage at the National Military Museum.
Source (in Dutch): National Military Museum.
In the park Soesterberg Airbase I also go the wrong way. It’s going well again today. At one point I no longer see any markings, so that rings a bell. Because I walk the wrong way, I do pass a nice toad pool. Obviously no toads nearby.
Back on the trail, I see an observation tower in the distance. Of course, I have to climb this one. I think it is a very chic looking tower. From the tower, I have a nice view of the surrounding area and the Military Museum.
To my delight, there is also a lot of heather at the airbase. And all bits of heather need to be photographed, of course.
The Migration birds trail goes right past the National Military Museum and also past the Memorial for Fallen Airmen.
After a slightly less enjoyable stretch across the parking lot, I end up at the runway. The trail goes right across this runway. I read on an information panel that this is an extremely suitable place for the skylark. However, you won’t see this bird today, as it is quite busy with people strolling, running and cycling across the runway. That’s what the runway is extremely suitable for as well.
In the centre of Soesterberg, I have completed 16 km and it is time to head home. But not before I can admire a helicopter on a stick.
On this part of the Migration birds trail between Hollandsche Rading and Soesterberg, I did not expect much heather, but that was not true at all. I did come across some heather in bloom after all.
This part was a super fun trail mostly through the forest. You can’t make me happier. I saw beautiful natural reserves, such as Op Hees and the Soesterduinen. The icing on the cake was the surprisingly nice park Soesterberg Airbase.
More info:Trail: Section 9 and Section 10 Long distance trail 2: Migration birds trail
Where: from Hollandsche Rading to Soesterberg, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 16 km
Hiking date: 22 August 2022
Materials used in illustrations: coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for the other illustrations
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