To be honest, this part of the Migration birds trail is not what I am looking forward to. Looking in the trail guide, all I see is farmlands from Langbroek to Amerongen. That will be a monotonous hike. But that turns out to be anything but true. Will you join me on this surprisingly fun part of the Migration birds trail?

Hiking map Migration birds trail: Langbroek - Amerongen
Hiking map Migration birds trail: Langbroek – Amerongen

Starting from Cothen after all

At a bus stop near the town of Cothen, I have to change buses. It’s a 15-minute wait for one bus stop or a 15-minute walk. The choice is easy and I set off immediately. I walk past some pretty farms and colourful flower fields until I reach Langbroek.

In Langbroek, the hike meets my expectations: farms and farmland. I found the previous section between Maarn and Langbroek a bit boring, so I hope this does not apply to this one. I do pass an information panel with several hiking trails. It can’t be that boring then, can it?

The landscape is gradually changing into a woodland setting. I am near two estates: Sandenburg and Waardenburg. The accompanying castles look beautiful. I make an extra loop past the Waardenburg estate along a beautiful avenue of trees. I am at the edge of a field where storks are nesting. Not a boring hike at all!

The stork is a common bird in the Netherlands, but only because of a reintroduction programme in the 1970s. A large proportion of the storks go on bird migration every year, but some also spend the winter in the Netherlands. You can hardly miss the bird: a large black and white bird with a red bill and red legs.

They mostly nest on man-made nests on high poles. Storks have one hatch per year with 3 to 5 eggs. The eggs are chalky white in colour.


Source (in Dutch): Vogelbescherming

The storks are not the only birds I encountered on this part of the Migration birds trail, please see below in the checklist.

Birds seen between Langbroek and Amerongen, in the Netherlands
✔ Barnacle goose✔ Common wood pigeon✔ House sparrow
✔ Barn swallow✔ Egyptian goose✔ Lesser whitethroat
✔ Carrion crow✔ Eurasian blue tit✔ Mallard
✔ Common blackbird✔ Eurasian coot✔ Muscovy duck
✔ Common chaffinch✔ Eurasian magpie✔ Mute swan
✔ Common Cuckoo✔ European goldfinch✔ White stork
✔ Common starling✔ Grey heron
✔ Common swift✔ House martin

I come across markings of the wooden shoes trail called Gerard Achterberg trail. This trail goes on my hiking checklist! I think it will be great here in autumn.

I keep on going and almost overlook a marking to the left. I get to cross a nice unpaved path through Sandenburg estate. But not before I take a photo of two sleeping little pigs.

Sometimes getting it wrong is not a bad thing

I am enjoying the scenery immensely, I keep going straight along the beautiful oak avenue until I reach a t-junction and see no markings. It can’t be happening! Yep, I walked the wrong way. Way too far straight ahead. I should have turned right at the farm. I don’t really want to go back, I find it too beautiful here and decide to get back on the Migration birds trail via hiking trail network numbers.

This turns out to be an excellent decision. I pass the most beautiful farms and notice that I am walking on the foothills of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. The so-called coulisse landscape: semi-open farmland surrounded by avenues of trees and wooded banks.

I reach the hamlet of Darthuizen (still this section is not part of the trail) and walk along a great little winding path across the estate of the same name. Not much later I am back on the Migration birds trail. I didn’t want to miss this wrongly taken path!

Parc Broekhuizen and Kolland estates

A wide forest path leads me to the next estate: Parc Broekhuizen. This estate does indeed look like a park with a stately castle/mansion at its centre. At a pond, I take a break on a bench and have a view over flowering rhododendrons. Here, too, I come across a marking of a wooden shoes trail: the Overlangbroek trail. This one goes on my list as well.

Next up are the inevitable polders after all. So this is the boring part I saw coming. Fortunately, this is only brief. Along a busy road I turn right into the Kolland estate. This is announced with a stately entrance gate. There is also a warning about the oak processionary caterpillar, said to be frequent here. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any trouble.

Again, I come across markings of a wooden shoes trail. This time the Cotland trail.

The trail goes in a single straight line across Kolland estate, I honestly expected a bit more of it. I walk right towards the dike by the Nederrijn river. Immediately I look out over the next surprise: the golden-yellow flower fields in the floodplains of the Amerongse Bovenpolder. What a burst of colour! Too bad it is very busy on the dike with cars and cyclists. Everyone wants to see this, of course!

Other trail guide about the same region

A little further on, the directions say you can go through the floodplains towards Amerongen. But during the nesting season, there is an alternative trail. It is still the middle of the nesting season now, but I see people walking in the floodplains. I hesitate to go there. I eventually decide to take the alternative trail after all.

It later turns out that the path through the floodplains is not closed during the nesting season, but in winter (from 1st of October to 1st of April). See trail Boots trail Amerongse Bovenpolder from Staatsbosbeheer. I hiked this trail a few weeks later in combination with the Wooden shoes trail Cotland trail. A blog about this hike will follow soon.

The alternative trail leads me to the other side of the dike to Zuylestein estate, where I get to see even more beautiful fields of flowers, with the church in Amerongen on the horizon.

Piggies at Zuylestein estate

Zuylestein estate is a beautiful estate for hiking. I have not added many photos of this because this estate will be covered in detail soon with the blog on the Cotland trail. Most of the photos I took were of the cute woodland piglets. I had heard about these before, but I didn’t know there would be just-born piglets. Look at those cute curly tails!

After hanging out with the piglets for 15 minutes, I really must continue with the trail. I keep walking across the estate past a sheepfold without sheep and past bright rhododendron bushes.

After the estate, I arrived in Amerongen. Tired but satisfied, I take the bus back home from here.

Final thoughts

Oh, how wrong I was about this hike! Beforehand, I thought it would be a boring one, but it was quite the opposite. The Migration birds trail between Langbroek and Amerongen is surprisingly versatile. Funnily enough, that was also because I walked a bit the wrong way: the scenic landscape on the edge of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug around Darthuizen is beautiful, but is not part of the Migration birds trail.

The many estates I passed, such as Sandenburg, Broekhuizen and Zuylestein were all worth visiting. The view over the floodplains of the Nederrijn river was phenomenal.

Tip: I crossed as many as three Wooden shoes trail during this hike: Gerard Achterberg trail, Overlangbroek trail and Cotland trail.

More info:

Trail: Section 12 Long distance trail 2: Migration birds trail
Where: from Langbroek to Amerongen, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 18.5 km
Hiking date: 20 May 2023
Materials used in illustrations: coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for the other illustrations
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Trail guide:

🚌 Info public transport:
  • starting point: bus stop Julianalaan, Langbroek – bus 56 between Wijk bij Duurstede and train station Driebergen-Zeist
  • ending point: bus stop Galak, Amerongen – bus 50 between train station Utrecht CS/Driebergen-Zeist and train station Veenendaal De Klomp/Wageningen

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