Riding from Lake “Iron Man” to ʼs-Hertogenbosch

One thing the Dutch take for granted is that they can really cycle everywhere. You never need to do a reconnaissance tour before you want to cycle with your family for instance. Foreigners who want to visit The Netherlands, asking me where they need to go to be able to cycle, still confuse me. The answer is: you will find good cycling infrastructure wherever you go, also in the countryside and nature reserves. Time to focus on the mundane again. That’s why this week’s post shows the ride from a lake near Vught to ʼs-Hertogenbosch.

man cycling
The cycleway around the lake in Vught that draws a lot of people in summer.

I recently showed you how I rode around the Maarsseveense Plassen near Utrecht; a man-made lake as there are so many in the country. Sand excavation for city expansion led to these lakes. The one I show you in this week’s post is a very early example. The city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch was a designated military fortress until 1874. Only after the national government relieved the city of that status it was allowed to build anything outside the city walls. The first expansion was to take place between the city and the railway. However, that area flooded every winter so a lot of sand was needed to raise it. That sand was found in nearby Vught. From 1890 the heath there was dug out by an – at the time – very modern machine. Since the workers feared it was taking over their job they nicknamed it the IJzeren Man (the Iron Man) and the name stuck for the lake it created. The machine dug out 1.3 million cubic metres of sand that was transported to ʼs-Hertogenbosch by rail. By 1894 there was a hole of 52 hectares (0.2 square miles) that had naturally filled with water and was just left to nature. After a while the new lake became part of the forests and people visited it for a swim. This was formalised in 1924 when a “swimming institute” was founded that offered separated swimming pools in the lake for men and women.

Sand excavation machine
This is the sand excavation machine that was used in Vught, which was nicknamed IJzeren Man (Iron Man). Picture circa 1890 City Archive ʼs-Hertogenbosch.

People from Vught still come to this lake on a nice Summer day to take a swim. Fortunately man and women can swim together now. The lake is just an easy bike ride away from ʼs-Hertogenbosch too. There is good cycling infrastructure in the forest around the lake, all with a smooth surface of asphalt. The streets in Vught have separated cycle paths that take you past beautiful houses in the forest. On the fields between Vught and ʼs-Hertogenbosch there is a wonderful bi-directional cycleway, completely away from motor traffic that takes a different route. The city centre of ʼs-Hertogenbosch is actually at the southern edge of the city and that means you get from the country side directly into the historic city centre via the street that is aptly called Vughter Street. I rode to the market square with city hall where the market was just about to end on Saturday afternoon. The vans and trucks of the merchants were already lining up, causing just a little inconvenience. All in all this was a very easy ride again.

A T-junction of bi-directional cycleways with a smooth surface of red asphalt. This is a numbered junction, so there is a map of that recreational network next to the cycleway and there is also a standard signpost with cycle destinations.
The roundabouts in Vught are made to the current design standards which also means they offer cycling priority over motor traffic.
A one way cycle track on either side of this street through the forest and past wonderful houses.
Due to building activities (more homes are being built here) a cycle detour is signposted.
I didn’t quite follow the cycleways here, but cycled on the carriageway for a short while to show you this side-by-side tricycle. There are so many special needs tricycles in the Netherlands that you often run into them.
The cycle route between Vught and ʼs-Hertogenbosch is nice and wide. The bidirectional cycleway has a surface of black asphalt. When there is no motor traffic municipalities sometimes choose this cheaper option. (Red asphalt is considerably more expensive.)
The Vughterstraat in ʼs-Hertogenbosch leads from the direction of Vught, as the name indicates, to the centre. It is one-way for motor traffic and two-ways for cycling.
Since the market was about to end some vans and trucks were already lining up to collect the stalls and the merchandise. That caused some minor inconvenience.
This street ends in the pedestrianised zone. Unlike in most other Dutch cities cycling is permitted in the pedestrianised zone of ʼs-Hertogenbosch.

This ride in 360 degrees.


The ride as an ordinary video.
(For those who have problems viewing 360 degree videos.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.