Footloose in Holland

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Our suggested trail in Holland is along the flat, yet surprising coastal polderland, from the Hook of Holland to Haarlem. Walking in the precious and bracing dunescape, which faces the North Sea, takes in some delighful coastal resorts and nature reserves. For a city break, Amsterdam is close by, revealing some interesting sights rarely found in Europe: the Anne Frank House, the distinctive canals and houses and the infamous Red Light District.

- See travel and trail information links at the bottom of the page -

  Highlights and places to visit:   

THE COASTAL PATH- There are several resorts to explore: Scheveningen, seaside of The Hague; Katwijk, Noordwijk and historic Haarlem. The Nature reserves make easy walking next to cycle paths to see the rugged and ancient dunes, you can see deer and Highland cattle en route.

AMSTERDAM- Canal Cruise, The Anne Frank House, Dam Square and Damrak, the surprisingly safe Red Light District; Begijn Court, Numerous museums featuring famous artists like Rembrandt and Van Gogh; Diamond exhibitions and much more.

Home Page      Footloose in Holland 
              ~ 2 films on one DVD    

Part one ~ The Dutch Coastal Path
Our Dutch journey follows the rugged international trail known as the "Kustpad", which winds its way along the west coast of Europe. Our chosen section is from the Hook of Holland, through many nature reserves in the dunes, to finish at Haarlem, a distance of around 80 Kilometres. Naturally it is easier because the walking is level, this should take 4-5 days. After passing the sea of glass houses sheltering much of Holland's lucrative market garden produce from the wind, you can make a stop at The Hague and its old-fashioned seaside resort of Scheveningen. Here you can rest a while and take in the distinctive Kurhaus and pier, and maybe try raw herring from a kiosk.

The Dune landscape next to the resort is known for its pure drinking water production.  In our DVD Ans Groenewegen, from the Dunea water company, tells about this unique rainwater catching process, and how the dunes are managed as a nature reserve. After a visit to the nature centre you continue along the Kustpad, sharing the trail with horse-riders, cyclists, and you might even meet face to face with Highland Cattle grazing the sandy landscape.

 Your next stop is at Katwijk, a quiet coastal resort on the never-ending strand facing the North Sea. Once a fishing village, the resort has grown steadily over a century or so into this pleasant town. You can join the beach life here with a pint or two in one of the typical dutch seaside huts. They are generally quite large affairs with plenty of shelter. We recommend a bar/restaurant known as Paal 14 ... 

It's not far then to the bigger coastal town of Noordwijk where there is more to do and it is a good place to find accomodation here. You can find a bus service that will get you to and from a day's hike on the Kustpad, as you make your way up the coast.
    Back into the bracing dunescape once more you will come across more wildlife in another water company's nature reserve before treading the "Visserspad", a traditional fisherman's path... to your finish at the historic Dutch town of Haarlem. After hearing the church carrillon in the old market square you can make a small tour of the historic town, passing the famous Adriaan's Windmill. From Haarlem's magnificent station you can catch the train to Amsterdam to begin your city walk.


See what it's like - Walk with us on this DVD extract -
press the 4-arrows button if you want full screen playback

Part two ~ Discovering Amsterdam
In our DVD we meet tourism director Machteld Ligtvoet and city guide Muriel Hoetjes who give an entertaining introduction to this fabulous historic planned  city. 

Our footloose walking trail starts naturally at the magnificent Central Railway Station, which is the hub of Amsterdam's extensive canal network radiating to the south. The length is around 7Km, best taken over 2 days, and forms a loop around most of the best sights. Firstly you walk out to explore the Damrak (main street) and the Old Side, which contains the infamous Red Light District and Chinatown. Historically, sailors would frequent this once dubious, but now touristy area. Here you can also find some of the best examples of canal houses in the city, mingled with tawdry shop windows which come "alive" in the evening. Stepping out across Dam Square to see the Royal Palace, you cross streets, canals and bridges to reach Westerkerk, with the best city views from its tower, and the Anne Frank House. In our DVD Annemarie Bekker tells of the Secret Annexe below and how it hid the family from the Nazis for two years.  

Walking up to Spui street, you can enter a simple doorway into a delightful hidden refuge known as Begijn Court. With a stop at the famous floating flower market, you head along more pretty streets and bridges towards the Museumplein... a park containing not only Amsterdam's top attractions (the Rijksmusem and the Van Gogh Museum) but the Coster Diamond Factory, one of several open to the public in the city. After visiting their museum, you can see a demonstration of how these fabulous stones are cut and polished on a cast iron wheel. 

Our city trail takes you on to the river Amstel, the main waterway into the city. Various side canals contain more of Amsterdam's distinctive and historic town houses. You then make a twisty trail to pass the the flea market, Rembrandt House, the Jewish Quarter, and the Artis Zoo to reach the end of the footloose trail: Oosterdok... the historic berth for many voyages and rich cargoes from the East.


More about the companion DVD to Footloose in Holland:
Keukenhof Gardens and the Dutch Flower Parade

  Feature pages:  
Austrian Tyrol
East European Cities
Scottish Highlands
Classic Tour Scotland
London II Unusual
Keukenhof Gardens
Italian Lakes
Italy III Campania
Italy IV TuscanyRome
Italy V South&Sicily
England Lake District
Oxford & York
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Useful links:

Climate ~ Amsterdam

Now let's be honest... the Dutch coast is windy. But don't let that put you off, much of the coastal trail we experienced dives in and out behind the vital dune barrier which shelters the polderland beyond. Level walking means you can probably manage more Km per day than you would on a hilly trail, but bear in mind the prevailing wind, which might be against you on a beach walk as you walk northwards.
Our Footloose Trail plotted on GoogleMaps

Noordwijk Good place to stay on the coast, (also Katwijk)
Getting to and from a day's hike is quite straightforward, there is a bus (90) service that travels through the coastal resorts and past nature reserves between The Hague and Haarlem. To get to the Hook of Holland from the Hague (from the Leyenburg interchange) take a no 35 bus. 
Dutch Journey Planner

I Amsterdam Official website of the city
The Anne Frank House

Coster Diamond Museum
Map of our Amsterdam city trail
Follow our route on Google Maps
Amsterdam is connected by very regular rail service to the city centre. Trams are the best way to get between places on the trail... for a change you could hire a bike, there are hordes of them, and they even have their own crossings and traffic lights. Being a pedestrian is probably safer though, however you could be mown down by a bike!

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