Veluwe - Day 5 : Veluwezoom
Around 9:45 we emerged from our tent and sat in our chairs to slowly wake up. Later, we discovered that the camping's store was only open until 10:00, so we had missed our opportunity to buy breakfast. Fortunately, the employees allowed us in anyway and even baked some fresh bread. We had a good breakfast, which was necessary given the long bike ride ahead.
Without luggage, we went to the town Beek to buy a map of the Veluwe. We hoped the people there could tell us where the large animals in the park lived. A map of the village clearly showed the location of the postal office. Its location was also indicated by traffic signs. When we arrived at the right spot a man told us the postal office had been removed over a year ago. Koen tried to buy a map in a different store while the man kept talking to me and Bram. He said we had nice bikes and asked where we came from. Only yesterday he had seen the "wild cougar" that was supposedly roaming the Veluwe. That was almost the same story as we had heard the day before, from the farmer who claimed to have seen it in his backyard. We didn't know what started those rumours, but they were hard to believe. He also told us to visit the highest waterfall in the Netherlands, which was not far away. It was supposedly 15 meters high.
Today we would visit the Veluwezoom, which constitutes around half of the Veluwe national park, the part you don't have to pay for. We would pass the waterfalls on the way there. It found them easily. There were already some people from Rotterdam, who thought it was amazing, such wild nature. We didn't like it at all. The river was only a meter wide and 10 cm deep. The bottom was concrete and the sides made of brick. The water was barely moving. The falls themselves were also artificial, it were 4 stairs each roughly 4 meters high. The water didn't even leave the stairs, like in any real waterfall. We each ate an apple there, so Koen could tell his mom we had eaten enough fruit. I didn't dare to throw away the center in the forest, because the city people that liked the waterfall so much probably didn't understand that would decompose.
The weather predictions were bad today and it was already getting overcast. When we reached an open part on the Veluwe it became even more cloudy. We saw a sheepherder taking shelter underneath a tree. It started getting more and more windy. Bram and I cycled to the forest quickly. We felt something was chasing us. I looked at my pocketknife which started to turn blueish. When we looked behind Koen was right behind us, but he was so slow we could easily get rid of him. At the end of the field we took shelter. The rain lasted about half an hour and was becoming increasingly more intense. When it was brightening up we continued cycling in search for a lookout point that was supposedly close and where we could shelter from the rain.
There were dark clouds above the Veluwe. We were in the middle of an open space, with a strong headwind.
It was not crowded today, we only saw other cyclists twice.
Bram raced through a puddle which seemed shallow, but turned out to be at least 20 cm deep. Fortunately we were cycling uphill, if we would have been going downhill he probably would have fallen. After a very long time, and climbing many hills, we almost arrived at the lookout point. First we needed to descend a steep forest road.
In the front you can see a deep puddle. The hill was so steep you couldn't see the entire road from the top.
Bram only needed to pedal a bit to reach 40 km/h.
I took these pictures from the lookout post. The view is towards a watering area for wild animals.
Because it was raining there weren't any
We ate an entire bread and sausage. Unfortunately we didn't see any animals, which was a petty because Bram had practiced his lure to perfection. It started raining like crazy again so we were happy to be dry. We weren't sure which direction to go so decided to just cycle at random. We passed a Scottish Highlander, a large cow with long brown hair.
The Scottish Highlander. He barely noticed we were there, but didn't move at all. In the picture on the right it looks like he moved, but it was just the camera.
Left: Fortunately we had good suspension on our bikes. Right: Some parts were really too steep.
View of the fields
On some parts I needed to stop cycling, squeeze both brakes, and then I would still slide down even without my wheels turning. There were a lot of thorny bushes along the road, in which fortunately none of us ended up. At one point we reached 56 km/h. It was starting to get late and we all were hungry. Just outside the park was a restaurant selling 5 euro pizza. We were put near an open door. I'm not sure if they wanted us to sit in the rain, or were trying to make us feel cold and leave, or it was just to get rid of our smell. The first thing we ordered was hot chocolate. That was really nice after all the rain. We all had a pizza afterwards. Bram's great table manners immediately stood out. He nicely licked his knife every time something stuck to it. Koen, who of course knew everything about restaurants, found that totally 'appalling'. When it started getting dark we headed back to the campsite. We were in the southern part of the Veluwe so that was still quite a ride away. It was there we took these great pictures of Koen.
Finally a more realistic photo :)
There is a highway running straight through the Veluwe that we could follow. Nonetheless we decided to cycle through the forest itself. One section seemed to be covered by thousands of insects. All sort of things were jumping, which turned out to be little frogs. The entire road was covered with the jumping critters. We went really fast over the small roads and a few times I got airborne. One time this was actually on purpose, because there was a big pothole I needed to jump over.
Since leaving the restaurant Koen's mom had already called 3 or 4 times. One of the times was to tell us to be careful because the 'cougar' had been spotted again. That night we also visited the highest point in the Veluwe, but there wasn't really anything to see. Just a hill in the forest. There was a small tower to spot bushfires from, visitors were allowed up to the first floor.
At four meters high we had a nice view, it was getting dark.
We decided to be smart and head towards the highway, otherwise we would get stuck in the forest at night. We passed more Scottish Highlanders. We tried to get around them as carefully as possible, but the animals didn't move at all. They didn't even blink. Bram had been carrying apples in his panniers all day, nearly all of which were now bruised.
It was getting dark on the Veluwe.
We arrived at the campsite quite late. First we did the dishes from the previous day and then showered. I discovered I had a tick. Bram said you could get those out using your nails, but I didn't believe him. The next day I got rid of it with a dedicated tweezer. Everything we had put in the luggage tent had gotten wet as well as my clothes on the washing line and any food that was left outside.
Today we cycled a small loop through the Veluwe.
The western part was freely accessible, we would visit the Eastern part the following day.
Distance cycled: 70 km