Back in the days, when A. and I were just dating, we decided to go for a hike along the beach. I remember A. being a bit hesitant about hiking in the Netherlands, but being in love, he agreed to go anyways. He loved it. “Wow, I didn’t expect this” I remember him saying, “this is so beautiful”.
[For Dutch, click here. For English, continue below.]
Regardless of this great first experience of hiking Holland together, we never really took up hiking in the Netherlands. So a year ago, I thought of ten ideas for small-scale adventures closeby home that I could fit in our busy daily lives. Hiking Holland’s Coast Path was one of them.
With its 252 kilometres covering the entire coastline of the provinces South Holland and North Holland, it’s hard to call hiking Holland’s Coast Path a ‘small-scale adventure’. However, if you cut the trail in little pieces and hike a section every time, it is fairly doable to corporate it in everyday life.
Section hiking Westland
My first experience of hiking Holland’s Coast Path was three years ago. My college friend Marissa has been dreaming of a hiking trip in the Alps for years, so a walk along the coast and testing my new fuel burner at the end was a first step. I still hope we’ll manage to do an Alpine trek from hut to hut one day.
Wherever you start a trail, whether it’s in the Alps or in my flat home country, the excitement of being at the trailhead remains the same everywhere. Almost immediately after leaving the train in Hoek van Holland, a beach town near Rotterdam, we noticed the sign saying: “Nederlands Kustpad, 252 km –> Den Oever“. Oh yeah, here we come!!
Our excitement disappeared soon when our first views showed the industrial area of Rotterdam’s port. But hey, Holland is small, so before we knew it, we walked on the beach and felt the wind blowing in our hair. A large proportion of the first section to Monster (12.5km from Hoek van Holland) is on the beach. It is alternated with a bit of road walking showing the greenhouses that the Westland municipality is famous for.
It never got dull and I loved how much we walked on the beach itself. It maybe has something to do that we lost track a bit and stayed on the beach even when we were supposed to hike the dunes. We were probably chatting too much….
We even cooked at the beach and Marissa tried her first adventure food instant meal. She is my only non-hiking friend who has ever dared to try it. Guess what? She liked it. I felt like a proud mommy.
The Hague, here I come
Two year later, Marissa has moved to the south of the country, living next to the beach in Zeeland. We haven’t seen each other that much anymore. I know this happens in friendships, especially when you’re living three hours travelling apart from each other, but still, we know each other for 10 years this year…. Maybe we should walk along the trail of the Dutch Coastpath in Zeeland (LAW 5.1) one day…
Anyway, my point was: the next section of the trail, I walked alone. I combined it with a biking trip, another idea of my list of small-scale adventures. “Why don’t I cycle to The Hague?” I thought. “From there, I can take a bus to where Marissa and I stopped walking and I can hike back to my bike.” I could think of reasons why I shouldn’t cycle 30 kilometres before walking 30 kilometres: I’m not a cyclist, my bike is shitty and I had never done this. But maybe the last reason was more reason to just do it. Something about out of your comfort zone?
I still don’t love cycling the way I love hiking, but it was a great way to explore parts of Rotterdam that I had never seen before.
Walking the last part of Westland was a bit boring: lots of road walking. When the trail led me back to the beach, it became more enjoyable. Even though the beach town Scheveningen is crazy busy in summer, it was nice to walk along the boulevard and to finally take a swim. Oh, and Scheveningen beach provides some splendid people-watching opportunity.
I had been at Scheveningen beach many times before, but I had never walked back to the city of The Hague. It actually was a very enjoyable walk, even including a quiet forest section. Quite surprising, nearby a big city. Best of all, was the city walk itself. European cities are among the best cities of the world and I just love walking aroung them, the Hague definitely included.
A blind date from The Hague to Katwijk
So after walking solo and with a friend, it was time for a blind date. “What?” you may think, “didn’t you have a boyfriend?” Yes, I had, and I still have. Oh, and to be clear: I’m not in an open relationship. So how come I was allowed to go on a blind date?
My blind date was Antonette from we12travel.com, a fellow outdoorblogger with whom I connected on social media. Similar to Tinder – which I find super interesting, probably only because it came on the market after I had already left the dating market – we thought it was time to see each other in real life, after having chatted online for a while.
So what do two outdoor bloggers do on their first date? Obviously, they go hiking together. It was a hot summer day, so going to the beach made sense. Yes, another section of Holland’s Coast Path!
Did I have sweaty palms, shaking legs, and blushing cheeks? No, let me remind you, this wasn’t a romantic blind date. I still wondered how we would get along in real life, as we planned to hike 22 kilometres. Could be terribly long if we didn’t connect well… Similar to romantic dates, it was a little bit ackward in the beginning, but like a good date, the ackwardness disappeared within minutes, and before we knew it, we were chatting non-stop.
Anto turned out to be super good and keen on finding route markers and wherever we doubted, I came in with my backcountry navigating app. A solid hiker team! We’d both expected to see more of the city, but instead the route took us through a forest near The Hague. The forest section was beautiful, but I was a bit disappointed that it took quite a while before we got rid of the bike path. It also took a while before we entered the dunes. When we did, it finally felt like we were truely surrounded by nature and nothing else. Climbing sand hills – a proper hiking workout for us Dutchies – and surrounded by wide views: it couldn’t get better.
Well, it did get better, at the after-hike: when we finally arrived at the beach in Katwijk (this section didn’t include any actual beachwalking), we treated ourselves to wine. Lots of wine!
More to come
I realise I still haven’t walked a section with my boyfriend. About time to remind him how beautiful walking in the Netherlands is. First, I’ll take him to the Utrechtse heuvelrug, a national park that I’m very fond of, and hopefully we will walk a section of Holland’s Coast Path somewhere this year.
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