Pieterpad, Garnwerd to Groningen
For the introduction to this (hopefully)480 km journey, please click on the heading,’Walking the Pieterpad’ in the black bar above.
The weather report was good. I dressed lightly in anticipation of the sunny skies sure to appear later in the morning.
Wrong again. It actually didn’t clear up until I was done with my 4 hour trek, (the most ambitious up until now). There was a strong cold wind the whole time. But it was invigorating and somewhat of a victory, because until now, I really didn’t know if my condition was good enough to attempt this leg, which was more than twice the distance I’d been doing so far.
I started out with an hour’s bus ride to get to my starting point, Café Hamminga in Garnwerd. (see previous trip for photos). Here is the interior, it was a cosy beginning before facing the chilly winds and occasional drizzle outside.
The first leg was a stretch along the dike, a rich agricultural area with lots of sheep. I absent-mindedly started collecting small clumps of stray sheep’s wool for craft projects, and with nowhere else to put them, stuck them in my pocket. In the freezing wind, I had my hands in my pockets a lot of the time, and eventually, as I collected more bits of wool, they became warm from the woolly lining!! Don’t ask me why, but I found amazing comfort in this for the whole walk. Perhaps because it was an unasked for and unexpected gift.
The walk was 14km or about 8 miles. It meandered along paths, through farms, along canals. A promised resting point midway was no longer catering to guests, so they referred me to the house below where the lady was very kind and gave me hot tea and some time to rest. The rest of the photos give an idea of the first 7km.
I kept thinking it would clear up, but the grey cloudy skies stayed in front of me, while behind, patches of blue started to appear. Eventually the path led out of farmland to an asphalt road and a bridge over the canal. Here you can see the approach to the bridge, and the bridge swinging open to the side for boats to pass.
Just across that bridge, there was a wonderful wooded path and acres of fields with horses and sheep acting as a sort of buffer zone between the path and the major motorway just a mile away.
Along parts of the path were sculptures with poetry. The modern building is part of the Zernike technological complex- the path I was on runs behind it. And along the water are the grounds behind the crematorium where people erect intimate monuments for departed loved ones.
After that things began to change from farm and nature to the city. The wooded path came out in a park in one of the neighbourhoods of Groningen, first passing under a road, the viaduct containing the inevitable graffiti. Then you know you are in the city. Another kilometre or two and I came to the green heart of Groningen, Noorderplantsoen- an English- style park full of old trees and site of the eclectic and magical Noorderzon cultural festival every August.
I walked to the market square and my legs were tired but I still had enough energy to do a few errands before embarking on the train, bus and cycle ride home (a little over an hour).
And to take the time to revel in the idea of having walked 8 miles without any trouble at all.
For more pictures of Groningen see my Flickr site.