A blanket of cloud had made the night warm and by 5am it was positively hot in our tent, and we decided that since we wanted to get an early start today we would get sorted and strike out. In any event a noisy tractor, doing tractory stuff in the field right behind us, meant that sleeping any longer would not be an option. We were packed up and breakfasted and on the road by 7.30; nearly a full 2 hours earlier than our usual leisurely departures.
Though it was warm, the sky was a dull grey, but there was the promise of sunshine and white fluffy clouds later on in the day. We left the city, skirting around it’s perimeter, passing chattering teens cycling to school, then through the pretty area of Hattem with its windmill until soon we were in the Veluwe National Park area.
We had visited this park last year when we were around the Arnhem area which is to the south. Today we traversed from north-east to west-south-west and at that time of the morning there were very few other occupants save for the wildlife. As I have said previously, the cycle paths through this place are a marvel and open up the area to all. It is a joy to ride along the smooth tracks without fear of perils to the sound of birdsong and the sun making an appearance and dapping everything with golden light, and the woodland smells of resin and sawn logs filling your lungs. It is such simple pleasures that cost nothing but bring such value to life and make you realise that it is not having stuff that makes you happy, but having experiences.
Having left early, we were ready for our coffee stop well before our usual 11am. The Ranger indicated that there was a lake up ahead and as we drew close we saw the footpaths up the hillock in front of it with a nice bench in prime place. We pushed Talula up the sandy track but once we reached the summit, we found that it was a view over a dry lakebed. We stopped anyway as it was still a peaceful spot. We had been there about 20 minutes, and the sun was feeling hot beating down on our exposed resting place, so we thought it time to be on our way. In the time that we had sat there not a soul had ridden or walked past us, but as soon a I mentioned to Mr V that I would quickly find a suitable relief spot, all of a sudden it was like Clapham Junction with cyclists to-ing and fro-ing!
On we moved further into the woods, and as the morning wore on so we passed more fellow cyclists. The usual acknowledgment to passing day travellers is a cheery “Hoy!” or some such noise. Other touring cycles though (easily identified from their front and back panniers and more disheveled appearance) afforded an additional wave or salute in mutual recognition of membership of the same fraternity.
The woodland gave way to areas of heathland, and as morning cloud had been burnt off, as you emerged from the cool dappled shade of the woods onto the heath, there is a wave of hot air that comes to meet you and surrounds you, making skin sweat, until you reach the sanctuary of the leafy canopy the other side.
After repeated dashes across such heathland, we were in need of some refreshment and came to the small town of Elspeet where the historic windmill there, one that actually mills flour, also has a side line in serving refreshments so we sat in it’s shade and savoured a couple of ice lollies. We then went inside to explore the workings which were impressive, it was built as a water mill in 1847 but was moved to Elspeet in 1894 and converted to mill grain. The steps up are witness to the generations of millers who have trod them in their daily industry.
We had decided on a campsite outside the town of Nijkerk which had good reviews which are well founded as the facilities are new and sparkling. When we had first embarked on our tour this year all those days ago, we had resolved to learn some Dutch to assist us and duly Google translate searched how to ask for camping for one tent, two people and a bike. However, we have never been in a position to need this, as soon as it is known that we are English, that is spoken to us and we continue in our procrastination of actually learning more than the odd word (and those are ones that closely resemble the English version). Our laziness caught up with us today though, the site is run by an older couple who do not really speak any English, and having followed the gentleman into the house for him to consult with his wife, and without my phone and means for translation, found myself lapsing into that typical British fallback of gesticulations. A cliche personified.
Having found the site to be of the superior mini-camping variety, we shall rest here for 2 nights and sally forth to Amersfoort tomorrow. The weather is forecast to be scorchio.
Oh, though we did take a winding route through the forest, we never did find the elusive cyclist’s cafe with it’s delicious apple pie. Mr V is having to console himself with another chocolate waffle.