Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Cycling between cities in the Netherlands part 22: Zwolle to Amersfoort via The Veluwe and Harderwijk

I had cycled from Zwolle to Amersfoort a year earlier, on my way from Zwolle to Utrecht, and the hour that I spent in Amersfoort on that trip was enough to persuade me to return. The Fietserbond Routeplanner suggested the exact same route I had taken the previous year between the two cities. However, wanting a different route I stuck a "via" pin in a random place in the forests of The Veluwe south of the city, and another in the city of Harderwijk to bring me back north and then set off along a defined route via two random points, as an experiment to see what kind of infrastructure I would come across.

I started my journey through the centre of Zwolle on the exact same route I had the previous year. However back then it was early on a Sunday morning and so I didn't see another person at all; this time it was mid-morning on a Wednesday, so the city was very busy with people getting about. After following the same bidirectional cycle track I had used last year I turned left to cross the road to use a service road on the other side, which is used as an access road for businesses alongside, although surfaced with red asphalt to emphasis this is a through route for people cycling. I then turned left to cycle under the railway line via a wide underpass

and then quickly looped back to join the fast Zwolle to Hattem cycle route alongside the railway line, which Mark Wagenbuur has written about previously here. This route was almost exclusively being used by young students making their way to or from lessons, continuously passing me in small groups from a few to 8 people.

As I approached the IJssel river I joined a cycling bridge attached to a railway bridge, which was busy and being used by many people of all ages. There was a great view of the river from the top, as well as a road running underneath on the other side of the river, with a cycle track alongside it.

I continued alongside the railway line for a short while, the path then turned left and at the end I turned right onto a road out of Hattem. I then joined another road and entered the forests of The Veluwe, with trees along both sides of the road. I then turned onto a road with cycle tracks along both sides of it, before I turned left onto a cycle path which led me through the forest for the next couple of miles

I crossed over a road to use a cycle path running along the other side of the road and then turned left onto another cycle path alongside a different road and continued along here for another couple of miles. I then turned onto a road where, by now deep in the forest, there were only trees along both sides of me as far as I could see. It was here that the road also became a bit hilly, nothing by UK standards but it did allow me to freewheel for quite some distance

Passing a picnic area I briefly stopped off for some food and then continued for about half a kilometre before a cycle path appeared to the left of the road, so I left the road to join it. I was thankful it appeared - for the last few miles I had been cycling on the road with cars. Whilst I'd had perhaps only one or two cars per minute coming up behind me it did leave me anxious every time I heard the sound of a motor engine as to whether it would be a close pass or not. Whilst there were no close passes on the road, here on the cycle track I didn't have to worry and could simply ignore the sound of car engines alongside and just enjoy the ride. And what a delightful ride it was! Initially cycling alongside the road but the path then moved away from it, fairly deep into the forest alongside, a really lovely ride cycling through the trees listening to the birds singing

I crossed over the N309 main road and continued along a smooth cycle path through the forest, which had a rough road for service vehicles alongside it. As I approached the N795 main road I turned right to cycle on a cycle path alongside. It was a fairly busy road with a near constant stream of motor vehicles using it but I enjoyed a lovely ride alongside at a relaxed pace

quite a contrast to what a horrible ride this would be were it on an equivalent busy A road in the UK!
After a short while the cycle track ended and I was now cycling along a service road alongside the main road, although all motor traffic kept to the main road alongside. The service road soon ended to become a cycle track again which continued on via a level crossing and a roundabout decorated with  large bicycle statues, for some reason. I was now cycling into the town of Nunspeet, initially on a cycle track, which became a service road for residents access alongside, filtered at the end to then become a cycle track again. I turned onto a residential street, filtered to through motor traffic halfway along and then cycled up a street that was one way for motor traffic but allowed cycling in both directions with cycle lanes on both sides of the road, leaving a very narrow space in the centre of the road.

I came to a roundabout and turned left onto the main road through the town. It had cycle tracks along both sides of the road with pedestrian and cyclists having priority at each roundabout. As I approached the outskirts of the town two young boys were cycling side-by-side in front of me, chatting away, perfectly safe from the motor traffic on the road alongside
I continued on for the next six kilometres along this road through Hulshort with cycle paths either side of it, mostly rural but still a steady stream of businesses and properties alongside, as well as a constant stream of all kinds of people cycling.

The woman on the other side of the road has stopped to have a chat with the gentleman in the wheelchair ahead of me

I passed another roundabout and then the cycle path I was using became a bidirectional cycle track. This continued, separated from the road by a hedge, with also a wide cycle path on the other side, wide enough for people to cycle three abreast on, also separated from the road by an identical hedge.

Just before the next roundabout I crossed over the road to cycle on a bidirectional cycle track on the opposite side of the road. Whilst the road came to a T junction at the end, the cycle track continued on along the side of a residential block to a residential road behind it, which was filtered at the end with another cycle track. This then lead to an underpass beneath the ring road.

On the other side, despite it only being a short access road to an industrial estate, there was another bidirectional cycle track. I had cycled on an almost straight line from the fields on the outskirts, right into the centre of Harderwijk. I suspect this was the main road for many years, but had over time been filtered and downgraded to become the main route in for bicycles, with motor traffic sent on bigger, faster roads on the edge of the city instead. The route planner had advised bypassing Harderwijk altogether, but as usual I wanted to spend the opportunity to explore part of it. I initially considered cycling on the cycle track under the Veluwemeer Aquaduct, but decided against it. I then looked at the map and considered two options; cycle to 'Markt" which is likely where the medieval historic centre of the city would be, with the usual bars and restaurants to relax in, or head to the main train station. I decided to head to the train station, although at the time I was unaware that the entire area around it had been rebuilt, with the main road leading to the station moved from a level crossing to the east of the station into an underpass underneath it, with the former road now filtered to through traffic. The new cycle infrastructure built here was certainly very impressive but so was the whole landscaping of the area, compare it to many upgraded train stations in the UK, designed for drivers only!
From the train station I cycled in a direct line through a housing development and under a railway and a couple of roads to what was once the shoreline of the Zuiderzee but was now the edge of the Wolderwijd Lake, following the Zuiderzee Works in the 1960s. I turned left to cycle on a path alongside the lake

I then decided to take a detour to cycle over a bridge crossing the motorway to the neighbourhood of Drielanden on the other side. Impressed with what I saw, I then filmed myself cycling back to the other side

I looped back round to the cycle path alongside the lake, although was by now some distance from it. The path soon ended and I was then cycling on the access road to a man made beach, where many people were partaking in water sports, so I briefly sat on the sand to rest and watch. I cycled away from the beach and back along the access road exiting it via a bypass around the barriers, where car drivers had to pay.

I passed by a Mcdonalds, which as is typical in the Netherlands, had a huge amount of cycle parking. I briefly joined a cycle track, alongside the access road from the motorway, before rejoining another access road to another beach. Once I passed the car park a cycle track appeared and I was cycling alongside the motorway for a short while before the cycle path bent away from it by quite a distance

It then bent back round to the motorway again as I passed a large bicycle statue, and then I joined another access road to another beach, and again I bypassed the payment booths for the car park. After cycling along the road it eventually bent away from the motorway again and then became a cycle path, with a sign I'd never seen in the Netherlands before
There were some great views from this high cycle path but it was very narrow. I passed a couple of other people on touring bikes and we both had to slow down and move to the very edge to the path to be able to pass each other, and our luggage still brushed each other.

After a coupel of miles I cam to the N301 road and had been here before - this was the point where I had crossed from Flevoland into Gelderland the previous year. Had I carried on staright ahead I would have cycled on the exact same route onto Amersfoort as last year. So, to make it a completely different route altogether I turned left and cycled on a cycle path alongside the N301. I crossed over the A28 motorway and was now on the outskirts of Nijkerk, on a smooth and very new looking cycle path. I soon turned right and ended up on the main shopping street in the centre, accessible for people walking and cycling only. I then made my way back out of the town again via a cycle path, an under-reconstruction cycle track and then another very smooth and new looking cycle track

I had already spotted what looked like the perfect example of a new development, Coelaer, on my map with a network of cycle routes through and around access only residential areas. It was exactly what I expected - a choice of numerous direct cycle routes through parks, directly past houses and with priority over the roads. I came to a roundabout with bidirectional cycle tracks around it at the edge of the development and then turned off here onto a fietstraat

This was essentially just a country road through farmland, but with red asphalt. I didn't come across a single motor vehicle along this road but there were plenty of people cycling, I was surprised how busy it was for somewhere so rural. Although I guess this is the most direct route to cycle between Amersfoort and Nijkerk. After a couple of kilometres I came to another new development on the outskirts of Amersfoort; I had again joined the exact route I had taken the previous year and so now it was a familiar cycle round the corner past Amersfoort Vathorst train station and then a familiar ride into Amersfoort.

Distance: Approx 78km / 50 miles
Time: six and a half hours
Map of the route
Photos taken: 695
Gallery: 98 photos here

An analysis of this trip by Jitensha Oni:

Previous Posts in this series:

Part 1 - Hook of Holland to Rotterdam / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 2 - Rotterdam to Gouda via Delft / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 3 - Gouda to Utrecht / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 4 - Utrecht to Amsterdam / Photo Gallery of this journey
Part 5 - Amsterdam to Hook of Holland via The Hague / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 6 - Hook of Holland to Breda / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 7 - Breda to Eindhoven via Tilburg / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 8: Eindhoven to 's-Hertogenbosch / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 9: 's-Hertogenbosch to Nijmegen / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 10: Nijmegen to Utrecht / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 11: Hook of Holland to Gouda a via Delft and Zoetermeer / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 12: Gouda to Utrecht, via a different route Photo gallery of this journey
Part 13: Utrecht to Nijmegen via Veenendaal, Ede and Arnhem / Photo gallery of this journey
Part 14: Hook of Holland to Leiden / Photo gallery of this journey

1 comment:

  1. You didn't take the nicest paths around Hulshorst! Did you cycle through beekhuizerzand? It is gorgeous here on a bike