Last August I cycled over 600 miles around the Netherlands in a week to raise money for mental health charities Mind and Bipolar UK. I never properly shared all the photos and experiences from my trip so every day this week I will be editing and reposting the daily diary I made exactly one year ago.
6 August 2017 – Day 1 – 75 Miles
So after getting off the ferry yesterday I biked 20 miles into the centre of Rotterdam. I would love to go back there for longer, it seemed like it had so much going on from the little I experienced. Some call it an architects playground, and that was certainly the case in the area I was staying. I had a bed at the Stay Okay Hostel, which was built inside the uniquely designed ‘cube houses’, and just across the square to the famous Markthal.
Today was the proper start to my trip with 75 miles plotted, so I got up nice and early as I knew there would be quite a few spots I wanted to stop at and explore on route. Except after biking only 7 miles out of Rotterdam I found the ferry I needed to get across De Lek and Noord rivers only started at 11am! Thankfully there was a café to grab a coffee whilst I waited but this put me behind schedule; especially as once I got to the other side I was greeted by the Kinderdijk mills, a wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site.
I couldn’t help but spend a sizeable chunk of time wandering along the gentle waterways and beautiful mills – after all it is one of the most ‘postcard-perfect’ examples of Holland.
I then proceeded on through the town of Dordrecht and out into the countryside towards Nationaal Park De Biesbosch. This whole area is absolutely stunning: from the bike paths that wind their way through the countryside you could see the forests, fields and waterways stretch out to the horizon.
I didn’t hear or see vehicles for miles, in fact the majority of this area can only be accessed by the bike paths, meaning the only sound is that of the countryside and the low whirring of cyclists enjoying it. Together with Kinderdijk I don’t think I could have asked for a better introduction to the Netherlands – coasting along under the hot sun, smile stretched across my face I felt myself already falling in love with this country.
Behind schedule and without time to properly stop for lunch I popped into a supermarket in a small village about 35 miles along to have a picnic. It was already 3pm by the time I got going again so I had to pick up the pace to gain back time. I passed through the lovely historical centre of Breda, before heading further south along more streams, meadows and large forests.
It quickly became clear that the Netherlands has no shortage of lush green countryside and doesn’t mind showing it off via meandering bike routes. Well, I certainly didn’t mind either.
Eventually I reached the Belgium border, which I traced along until finally I finally arrived at my B&B in the small village of Hilvarenbeek, where I was greeted by the very welcoming owner.
She recommended me the restaurant where I am now writing this, watching the sunset from the terrace, sipping on great Dutch beer and enjoying possibly some of the best cooked Salmon I have ever tasted. (I promise this is part of the re-fuelling process for tomorrow’s ride).
Watch the whole of my Netherlands bike trip in this video:
VIEW/DOWNLOAD the GPS routes I plotted and used*:
- ARRIVAL Ferry-Rotterdam (20 Miles)
- DAY 1 (75 Miles)
- DAY 2 (75 Miles)
- DAY 3 (80 Miles)
- DAY 4 (82 Miles)
- DAY 5 (76 Miles)
- DAY 6 (99 Miles)
- DAY 7 (96 Miles)
- ENTIRE ROUTE (600+ Miles)
*My actual route ended up being a bit different and longer to these because of detours and getting lost!!