#13 Hospitable Holland

Pieterpad,  Lemele to Hellendoorn

305 km to Sint Pietersberg

305 km to Sint Pietersberg

For the introduction to this (hopefully)480 km journey, please click on the heading,’Walking the Pieterpad’ in the black bar above.

I’ve walked about 175km by now. Just 305 to go. But this has never been about competing or achieving anything other than completing the trip at my own tempo whenever that may be.

This was a Monday, the 4th and last day of this leg. I started to have trouble with pain on the top of my foot. I can’t seem to warm up to my new Lowa hiking boots. Walking was doable, but not relaxed.

autumn path by small manmade stream

autumn path by small man made stream

The road was varied and pleasant on a perfect autumn day. I was thankful for the occasional spots to sit and rest. There are sometimes long stretches without them, when not even the side of the road is available to sit safely. Here is one welcoming bench I made use of to have lunch and take off my boots.

welcoming chunky bench

welcoming chunky bench

It is sometimes thought that the Pieterpad is an old pilgrim’s route, but it was conceived and mapped out by two elderly Dutch women between 1975 and 1981. In the 35 years of its existence, about 1,000,000 people have walked it.

So it isn’t surprising that people along the path sometimes offer refreshments or rest stops. So far these have all been charming. In one place, there was a picnic table with a cooler beside it and a long typewrittten message. This family has a dairy farm with happy cows whose milk is used for Beemster cheese as well as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They started a ‘dessert table’ on the path, offering fresh dairy products for hikers. You just take what you want out of the cooler and pay in the little box provided. They obviously care about their cows and products and have a ‘Caring Dairy trademark for sustainable dairy farming. You can get yoghurt, cheese or fruit juices from the cooler.

I encountered yet another sign of Dutch hospitality further on. A bicycle parked on the side of the path (in this case a road) was an invitation to pause at this welcoming little rest stop.They didn’t have a toilet (some do) and had a vehement sign asking people not to pee or anything else at the side of the little hut!!!

(I got quite expert at ducking into dense, highly growing corn when I needed to pee urgently and there was nothing else in sight. I always took a plastic bag for my used TP-  it is so disgusting to come across other hiker’s used TP in various out of the way spots. )

This is likely the last Pieterpad post for this year. I’m far enough down into the middle of the country that getting to my next starting point takes me 3 1/2 hours on public transport, (same for getting back after a full day of walking!) . And with the evenings growing dark so early, it is less relaxed for me generally. All being well, I’ll start out again next spring.

I’ve gained so much from this experience so far. Much more self confidence in finding my way, and in solving normal travel dilemmas involving transport and accommodation. I’ve learned that I have to have these kinds of challenges and movement in my life to be happy. And that my world is so much bigger than I’d thought during the years when I felt trapped close to home because I don’t drive here. I’ve also learned a lot about certain parts of the country and the people living there, and how much I need both nature and social contact to feel whole. So I’m really looking forward to the next 305 km.

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