Hiking the Pieterpad (Where are We – NL 4)


She wasn’t bored, just restless between adventures ~Atticus

Wild camping in the forest, staying with family and friends, hiking with fellow overlanders, a roommate reunion, memorable stays through Warm Showers & Couchsurfing, oh, and hiking some 250Ks.

We’ve had an interesting two weeks, for sure.

Hiking the Pieterpad had been on our ‘bucketlist’ for a number of years. However, hiking 500 kilometers during our 4-6 week annual visits to the Netherlands never was a serious option and so the guidebook, found in a second-hand shop years ago, stayed buried in the Land Cruiser.

Meanwhile the guidebook is still in the Land Cruiser in (Kazakhstan) but we are hiking the Pieterpad (in the Netherlands).

Thank you, Covid-19.

The big advantage of working freelance – combined with a low-budget lifestyle – is the freedom to take lots of time away from the laptop and to have an adventure.

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Read more: Cycling in the Netherlands

Time for a Hike

In our last month’s Where are We, we shared our 2-week cycling trip through the Netherlands.

After our cycling trip, it was time for a hike.

In fact, this is our second hike during this ever-extending Covid-19 stay in the Netherlands. In June, when the first restrictions of the ‘intelligent lockdown’ in the Netherlands were lifted, we went on a 3-day hike: the 90K Twentepad (a regional hike near our homes).

With campsites opening up after July 1, it was time for the Pieterpad.

Recommended Books on Hiking

(click on the images to look inside)

The Last Englishman – Keith Foskett

My Midsummer Morning – Alastair Humphreys

Alone in Antarctica- Felicity Aston

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What is the Pieterpad? (‘Peter Trail’)

In the 1970s, two hiking friends, the 60+ year old Toos Goorhuis-Tjalsma and Bertje Jens had the idea to walk from Bertje’s home in Groningen (far north) to hike to Toss’ home in Tilburg (in the south). From here grew the idea to develop the Pieterpad.

In 1980, they suggested the Pieterpad to Nivon, the publisher and managing organization of 4,000Ks of long-distance trails in the Netherlands. Nivon liked the idea but stipulated that the route had to be walked and described both ways. Toos and Bertje happily took up the challenge and walked the trail once more, this time the other way around.

Their initiative ultimately led to the 490K trail from Pieterburen – a village 3Ks from the Waddenzee in the far north to the St Pietersberg in Maastricht, in the far south. As such the name, Pieterpad, which became the longest hiking trail in the Netherlands.

This isn’t ‘just’ a hike for the sake of hiking. From flatter-than-flat agricultural fields in the north to heathland and forests in ‘hillier’ (big word for land of 50-70 meters altitude :-)) regions, the Pieterpad meanders through a variety of natural landscapes as well as villages and smaller towns.

The trail gives an impression of the Netherlands in many ways, passing along historical, cultural and religious sites – churches, museums, cemeteries, monuments, etc. There is much to see along the trail.

Hiking the Pieterpad – (Half of it, for now)

Pieterpad route, Netherlands
@Pieterpad.nl (vermoed ik; is deze image van iemand anders, laat het dan weten en dan pas ik het aan)

Of course we can’t ‘just’ hike a trail. We need to do more than that and so we posted an image of the trail on Facebook with the question who lived on or near the trail.

Never miss an opportunity to catch up with family and friends!

Many responded and so we have stayed with a number of people. Thank you so much, Melle, Abigail, Margit & Jorgos, Roelof, Anneke & Kees. (For those we missed for one reason or another, we hope to cross roads another time.)

Margit was my roommate during my student years in Leeuwarden. We hadn’t seen each other in 17 years. Luck had it that our third roommate, Margreet, was in the Netherlands too – I hadn’t seen her in 29 years. With Margreet living in Italy, our visits to the Netherlands never coincided. We spontaneously decided on a reunion and had a fantastic get-together over dinner in Zwolle.

Margreet & Git – let’s do that again!

Taking a Rest

But, we are only halfway.

Blisters! In an enthusiastic attempt to try a new type of shoes, Coen lucked out. Even after his mother was so kind to bring his trusted other shoes – and take us for dinner – blister after blister grew on the same toe that simply refused healing. It got him limping on the leg that is already troublesome due to an old knee injury.

Preventing more damage to that knee, we felt a rest was required. We could have done that on a campsite and we would have done so had the weather forecast been different. With rain storms predicted for the days to come we took the easy way out: home.

Travel Guides for the Netherlands

(click on the images to look inside)

Insight Guides – Netherlands

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides – Netherlands

Lonely Planet Travel Guides – Netherlands

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So, here we are, typing away behind our laptops. For only a few days though. We will be back on the trail by the time this Where are We gets published.

We will take the train back to Vorden, where we left the trail, and from there we will hike south to Maastricht. For our friends and family along the way, we hope to see you.

We are already in touch with some of you but feel free to reach out if you like to meet!

Karin-Marijke & Coen

By the way, stay tuned for next week’s detailed packing list, where Coen gets to the nitty-gritty of what we carry on our backs!

Update: Here is the packing list + an additional blog post on how we dealt with the heatwave.

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