Over the summer holidays, and with valuable time on my hands. It was good to get outside and find the opportunity to explore some more locations in the Netherlands, many I don't necessarily have the chance to visit all that often.
I live in Rotterdam on the western side of the Netherlands, in the Province of Zuid Holland. There's no doubt in my mind, Rotterdam is a great city and nice place to live, with plenty of great things to see and do, in the city and in the nearby surroundings.
Around the city limits, you are extremely close to the local beach and of course the wider stretches of the Dutch coastline. Inland, the landscape changes and tends to become typically flat with a network of canals and extensive water/lakes, which creates an interesting landscape and feeling that many visitors will find typically Dutch.
So, trying to find more varied types of landscapes in the Netherlands means that you will need to travel further afield. Options might include the Wadden Islands in the North of the country, Zeeland in the South West corner, Limburg in the South East and the Eastern Provinces with their rural farmlands and natural woodlands. A landscape that has been here long before the vast majority of the Netherlands had been reclaimed from the sea. In fact, by 1961 around 6,800 square miles (18,000 km2, about half of the country's land, had been reclaimed from the sea. That is quite staggering but just shows how effective Dutch engineering can be.
On this particular trip, we headed east by car and made for the popular natural area of the Veluwe, and its surroundings. This area is not only a popular destination for the Dutch citizens but also visitors, from further afield, like me, a tourist.
It is a great part of the country very pretty and very appealing. It provides an ideal location for anyone who enjoys nature, active pursuits and of course just being outside in the great outdoors.
The Speulderbos was our first destination call, and it is a unique and woodland area. I had visited once before, when I had previously camped here one bitterly cold February, on the Natuurkampeerterreinen campsite located in the small hamlet of Drie.
Despite the cold conditions, it turned out to be a fantastic experience, but one that was in stark contrast to this particular visit and the very high temperatures, on this hot August day.
The Speulderbos is an ancient forest and with its wide range of Oak, Beech and Birch trees. The forest is renowned for its whimsical trees, which appear to bend and twist, in their sweet way.
This forest is pretty unique, and the popular name for the tree's appearance is the dancing trees. Many visitors come to the area to see them, enjoy them or capture their elegance when the weather conditions are just right.
Winter conditions of fog and snow are ideal when the trees have shed their leaves and their dark trunks add great contrast to the mystical white background found all around.
The Speulderbos forest is a popular place for walking and cycling pursuits. It has an excellent range of walking trails, which enable you to wander and explore the woods, at your leisure. The cycle routes pass through the forest too and then out onto the nearby roads, making it easy to get to from nearby villages and towns.
During this visit, we enjoyed a pleasant walk around the tree-lined routes and savoured the chance to listen to and maybe even spot some of the local wildlife, like Wild Boar, varieties of Birds and Deer. On this occasion, we didn’t, but during my last visit, I did see Boar and a solitary Deer. I guess it depends on how quiet you are and what time of the day you visit.
The Veluwe National Park was the next place we visited, with our timing being relatively late in the day. In hindsight, it turned out to be a right call and to visit here later in the day was exactly the right choice, as the temperature was pretty hot, throughout the day.
There is no mistaking that this area is well worth a visit, and despite its popularity, it remains an exciting place to visit. Not only does its landscape date back to the last Ice Age. It is also the only park in the Netherlands where you need to pay, to gain entry and tour around.
To gain entry this might seem a little unfair, but your payment gives you the chance to tour the extensive area of natural parkland on a bike, with the money going back into the upkeep of this wonderful place.
As you enter the park, there is a massive bike park to your right, from where you can pick up a bike and cycle around at your leisure. The bikes are comfortable, suitable for all ages and abilities and they are very easy to pedal, throughout a relatively flat landscape.
Being a daily cyclist, I loved it, and it certainly provides you with a pretty unique way to get outside and enjoy this glorious natural landscape, other than by car or on foot.
Within the park itself, there are plenty of places to eat, rest, a museum and a sculpture park for you to view and enjoy. Wildlife is also prevalent within the park, but like most wild animals the action only tends to take place once dusk falls and the forest begins to quieten down a little.
These locations are easily accessible using the car and all are not too far away from anywhere else in the Netherlands. It is a relatively small country and it is good that you can be almost anywhere new in around 2 hours or just over.
You can also find your way here by bike. Many people tour across the Netherlands using their cycles and use these beautiful locations as a stopover when visiting other areas of the country or perhaps even beyond. To take advantage all you will need to do is map out an appropriate route or follow one of the many dedicated cycle routes already in place, in order to find your way here.
Most locations, in the region, are served by the extensive rail network called NS and I know for a fact if you are visiting the Speulederbos forest the local station at Putten is very close by, within walking distance and the many walking routes are incorporated into the train travel experience.
You can find out more about it here.
Thanks For Reading
Thank you for reading this, my latest blog post and I hope it was informative, interesting and hopefully motivates you to perhaps visit here one-day too.
I know many visitors, who visit the Netherlands tend to want to see Amsterdam, the windmills and the typical dutch things, but from my experience, the eastern part of the country is well worth a look, especially if you love the outdoors and the many interesting places you will find here.
If you have read this blog post and like it, please feel free to like, comment and share with others. The feedback is important as it enables me to progress and move forward with my ideas and intentions.
You can read more posts on my website and see more of my images on my regular Instagram page @garethmateblog where I regularly update my content from my travels and things I do from day to day.