donderdag 12 april 2012

Over the Hill Club Easter Meet 2012

Once again Suus and Bert had arranged the annual Dutch Challenge Reunion or Over the Hill Club Meet. A splendid get-together for British, Belgian and Dutch walkers to revive old memories, talk about the upcoming TGO challenge and to enjoy the Dutch countryside. This time the meet was held near Bennekom on the Veluwe.

I arrived friday afternoon in good spirit. Some had arrived earlier and more were arriving during the afternoon and in the evening. Our base was a Nivon hostel east from Bennekom.
Many hands helped to prepare an italian evening meal. I tried to grate a Pecorini cheese, the hardest cheese I've ever tried to grate. With help of Nicolas from Belgium I finally succeeded.
Buying the ingredients and cooking for 23 people isn't easy but it was a great succes.
The next day day Rolf had organised a walk from the hostel to the river Nederrijn following a former meltwater valley dating back to the ice-age. Two little streams flowing through this valley still contribute to the river Nederrijn. At one point most walkers crossed one of the burns by going over tree trunks and branches laid down in the stream. I waded straight through. It was only ankle deep ! During the Challenge they're prepaired to wade through much wider rivers thigh deep.
Rolf is an expert on the area we walked through - we even walked passed the house where he was born - and explained the legislative history to us. During the ice-age the originally north flowing rivers Rhine and Maas were forced by the icesheet to flow to the west. The icesheet formed moraines and after the ice retreated the wind deposited more sand on top thus creating a height difference of over 40m over a very small distance. Our British guests were impressed.
At one point the Romans created a path through the hillside to reach a rivercrossing. Nowadays there's a ferry at this point. We continued our walk through the river forelands on the north side of the river Nederrijn. At Wageningen most walkers did take the bus back to Bennekom. Only Nicolas, Paul and I walked back through the forest, a total distance of approximately 20km, arriving at the same time as the others. Much to their surprise. Our eveningmeal was an extensive Indonesian dish compiled by Rolf. Delicious.
On Easter Sunday we made a bicycletour. Some of our British friends aren't very experienced in cycling (on the wrong side of the road) but even Big John H. managed and I have to admit it has been a long time ago I did cover such a distance. The first part was through the same forests we walked yesterday only now we were on paved bicyclepaths and we were much faster. The ones in front were actually so fast they had to wait at regular interfalls for the ones behind. At one moment we waited for the last ones who had already passed. Doh ! This time we used the ferry to cross the river Nederrijn and followed the riverdyke west to Opheusden. Just before the next ferry we had a little stopover at 't Veerhuis for a drink and pie. Back on the north shore of the Nederrijn we visited nature reserve De Blaauwe Kamer, the site of a former brickfactory which was operative until 1975. The site was given back to nature.
Several times every year the area is flooded when waterlevel in the river is high thus creating an habitat for water loving animals and plants. You can watch a videocompilation on youtube here.
After De Blaauwe Kamer we continued are journey towards the southeastern point of The Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the western moraine. This point is called the Grebbeberg and was a vital point for the defence of Holland at the start of WWII. A little stream, initially flowing towards the river Nederrijn, had in the past been converted to a canal to be able to inundate the Gelderse valley between The Utrechtse Heuvelrug and The Veluwe. We followed this canal for a while before going east and north to reach The Veluwe again. We visited the Ginkelse Heath, the dropping and landing area for the Allied Forces during operation Market Garden in 1944. Today it was busy - within 100 yards of the parking - with Easter Sunday visitors.
After a short rest we biked to Natuurcentrum Veluwe. Here we had soup with bread and watched a video about wildlife on the Veluwe.

Shortly before sunset we walked to a hut for watching Red Deer. We saw a herd of hinds, soon disappearing between the trees, a red fox and two wild boars. In the dark we went back to the hostel arriving at 10 pm, having done a roundtrip of approximately 40km.

The last two days had been partly cloudy and dry but today the weatherforecast said showers and thubderstorms were expected. The programme was a mixed one. One group choose to go with Rolf to Arnhem to see the WWII infocentre, the John Frost Bridge etc. and a group choose to go to the Nationale Park De Hoge Veluwe with the Kroller-Muller Museum, Sculpture Garden and art deco hunting lodge St.Hubertus by architect Berlage. During the morning the rain was moderate but we were cosy in the museum. In the afternoon it was just light rain so we visited the sculpture garden.
I was walking with JD, Mairi and Suus but lost contact with them. They went with others to see the hunting lodge and I did a Dutch ridgewalk to another part of the sculpture garden.
At 4pm we called it a day and drove back to the hostel. The rain got heavier.

Once again a well organised meet with friends old and new. Many thanks to Suus and Bert for organising and to Rolf for the guided tours. Join us next year !

zondag 1 april 2012

I used to have a photogallery at but they stopped their activities a while ago. I decided to create a website with pictures and stories of my wanderings in the UK and Holland.
Time is a precious thing and my website is slowly being filled with pictures and tripreports.
Sofar the TGO Challenge 2007, 4 consecutive years of West Highland Way, 2 visits to Skye, An Teallach, South Harris and a visit to the Lakedistrict have been completed. I'm working at a second visit to the Lakedistrict at the moment.

More is coming up - I'm not even halfway methinks - but you've got to be patient.

Here's the link : , I do hope you'll like the stories and pictures.