Snow! Totally unexpectedly, I hike through a winter wonderland today! I start in Soesterberg and go via the Den Treek Henschoten estate past the pyramid of Austerlitz and via the town with the same name I continue through the forest to Maarn.
It has snowed!
When I change buses at Driebergen-Zeist station, I can already see the snow. This is going to be a beautiful hike. I know it has been snowing, but in the West of the country the snow is as good as gone.
Once in Soesterberg, I slip and slide along the pavements towards the viaduct and behind it to the forest. In the forest, the snow has not yet flattened and I can move forward more easily.
I walk quietly through the snowy forest. I come to a clearing where Hofstede Wallenburg once stood. The outline in the form of a hedge is still there, but it is hard to see through the thick pack of snow. I take a break, standing by the snowy bench. There is a deafening silence. There must have been other people here before, because there is a cute snowman.
The trail continues through the forest. Suddenly I see something moving in the distance on the path. It’s a roe deer; in this white world you can see these animals a lot easier as well. But when I am noticed, the roe deer quickly disappears.
Once again, I come to a clearing where there is a mansion called the White House. The snow makes the house look not so white at all.
I have been hiking through Forestry Austerlitz for a while now, but I have yet to see the famous pyramid. I’m sure the trail would pass it, but not much later I see the obelisk on top of the pyramid peeking through the trees.
You don’t see a pyramid in snow very often. The pyramid is not open on Mondays, so I cannot climb it today. So I only walk past it for a bit. The view is somewhat obstructed by the hedge.
After a short break at this beautiful spot, I continue the trail. In the forest, I come across nice snowy mushrooms.
Now on to the town of Austerlitz. I walk across the square where there is an information panel with more hiking trails. After a bit through the residential areas, I dive into the forest again.
By the way, I don’t come across many different birds today. Surely the most common is the great tit.
The great tit is one of the most common birds in the Netherlands, so you will find them all over the country. The bird has a yellow belly with black middle stripe and black head with white cheeks. The bird also has a moss-green upper surface and blue-grey wings. The male’s ‘tie’ is somewhat wider than the female’s.
The great tit breeds from late April and has one or two nests a year with 8 to 13 eggs. The eggs are white with red spots. The bird is a hole-breeder: makes its nest in tree cavities, rocks or walls, and of course in nesting boxes.
Source (in Dutch): Vogelbescherming
Below is the not-so-long bird checklist of this hike.
|Birds I saw between Hollandsche Rading and Soesterberg|
|✔ Carrion crow||✔ Eurasian blue tit||✔ Great tit|
|✔ Common blackbird||✔ Eurasian jay||✔ Greylag goose|
|✔ Common buzzard||✔ Eurasian magpie||✔ House sparrow|
|✔ Common chaffinch||✔ European robin||✔ Western jackdaw|
|✔ Common wood pigeon||✔ Great spotted woodpecker|
Koepel van Stoop and more forest
A little later, I pass the tea pavilion named Koepel van Stoop. It has been grey all morning, but now the sun is starting to break through.
Once again I walk the wrong way, as I end up at the provincial road, which is not where I should be at all. I go back a bit and into a side path, despite not being able to find any markings there either. Eventually I end up on the trail.
Other trail guide about the same region
The defrosting has now started, I can see much more foliage than earlier this morning. The remaining snow frames the paths beautifully.
At the forest near Maarn, I don’t know exactly where to go. The trail in the booklet is no longer correct. I know from experience that it is better to follow the markings in the field. So I follow the markings and that goes well. I end up at the church in Maarn.
At Maarn, I actually have to go through sand hills Koeheuvels first, but I decide to walk quickly towards the train station. I’ll save the Koeheuvels for next time.
The next section of the Migration birds trail goes from Maarn (including Koeheuvels) via Doorn to Langbroek.
I cannot help but give this hike a 5 star rating. Hiking in snow just doesn’t happen that often in the Netherlands. The beautiful surroundings make this hike a fairy tale. Even without snow, I would have given this part of the Migration birds trail a 5 star rating. A truly wonderful hike!
More info:Trail: Section 10 and Section 11 Long distance trail 2: Migration birds trail
Where: from Soesterberg to Maarn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 18 km
Hiking date: 23 January 2023
Materials used in illustrations: coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for the other illustrations
- starting point: bus stop Kampweg, Soesterberg – bus 56 between train station Driebergen-Zeist and Wijk bij Duurstede
- ending point: train station Maarn
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More winter wonderland hikes
Unfortunately no snow in the hikes below, but beautiful wintery photos instead.
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