Ride along to a nature reserve

Billet en français

Some European countries are just starting to relax the rules on being out and about. In the Netherlands we were fortunate enough to be allowed to go out for fresh air during the entire crisis. As I wrote before, I will show you another one of my rides which I made on my free Wednesdays. I specifically didn’t ride in the weekends to avoid the times that more other people would ride. And you can see that in the video; it is very quiet on the cycle paths. So why don’t you ride along with me, virtually?

Information sign about the recreation facilities around the man-made lake De IJzeren Man in Vught, which is a great lake to swim in and cycle around.
There was almost nobody on the boulevard around the lake. Very easy to adhere to the social distancing rules.

After riding to Waalwijk (West) and Nature Reverve De Maashorst (East), I headed south this time. I didn’t film the entire ride, only where I thought it was interesting enough. I started filming very close to home, in Vught, when I cycled past the man-made lake of IJzeren Man. From there I cycled alongside a boring road, the N65 from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Tilburg that is about to get a complete re-design. It will look much more like a motorway without any level crossings. The reconstruction will start in 2021. Today this is still a provincial road as they were made from the 1930s on. With a separate one-way cycle path on both sides. Since this road is the same for a very long time I didn’t film much there. Only a bit in Helvoirt, because there you can find a little bit of the original road that was cause for the beginning of the movement “stop de kindermoord” or stop the child murder. Nowadays the main road is diverted around Helvoirt.

This road in Helvoirt was the reason the “Stop de Kindermoord” (Stop the Child Murder) movement started. The children of the founder had to cycle to school here every day. The N65 is now diverted (left behind the trees) so the road is very quiet now.
The N65 is a provincial road as they were designed in the 1930s. It will soon be converted (2021) to look even more like a motorway. All the level crossings will be changed to multi-level crossings. A cycleway will also be part of the new design.

I cycled south-east all the way to Oisterwijk. For this particular ride I didn’t use the numbered junction network. I just rode the quickest and most direct route to the over 750 hectare large nature reserve “Oisterwijkse Bossen en Vennen”, which means the forests and fens of Oisterwijk. That was not only to get there quickly but it was also a way to avoid places where more people cycle. Wherever I did end up on the numbered junction network it was immediately notably busier.

Proof that windmills don’t only exist in Holland. They can also be found in the rest of the Netherlands. This is the windmill in Oisterwijk.
One of the many fens (ponds) in the forest near Oisterwijk.
Cycling in the lonesome forest was a very special experience.
Due to the Corona crisis this café in the woods was closed and even cordoned off with barricade tape.

From these beautiful but almost deserted forests with its many fens I cycled east to reach another nature reserve called Kampina. This is a nature reserve with woods, heather fields and stream valleys over 1,200 hectares in size. Together with a number of other nature reserves it forms “the Green Forest” a vast nature area in the triangle of the cities ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Tilburg and Eindhoven. The Kampina is owned by the “Society for preservation of nature monuments in the Netherlands” since 1929. The society tries to return the area from a planted pine forest (for wood production) that it was since the mid-19th century, to the original wet heath landscape it used to be originally. Like in the Maashorst there are larger animals roaming free here. But unlike in the Maashorst I did meet them here. The ponies were blocking the cycle way for quite some time. I didn’t mind, but some people got impatient and started to cycle in between the animals, which didn’t seem to be completely without danger. But after a while the animals did get a bit out of the way and I also passed behind one on the horse’s behinds.

This part of my route was on the numbered junction network and it was immediately much busier.
This cattle grid marked the entrance to the Kampina nature reserve where larger animals roam freely.
When the heather is in bloom this all turns purple but now it was an empty and very dry looking area. It is not normal that the fields are so yellow so early in the year. We really have a drought in the Netherlands.
It is always surprising to find such seemingly untouched nature in our densely populated country. But everything you see was actually carefully designed to look like primeval nature by a preserving nature society since 1929.
And there they are, the free roaming ponies; right in the middle of the cycleway. I had to wait a while before it was safe enough to pass here without disturbing the animals too much. But it was very nice to look at them, so no complaints.
The exit of the park was again marked by this cattle grid. The horses cannot pass here.

From the Kampina I cycled again almost directly north back to ʼs-Hertogenbosch, most of it alongside the A2 motorway. Not the nicest route, but the fastest and most convenient route. All in all this very enjoyable ride was 43.8 kilometres long. I filmed 30 minutes of it; on the map roughly the black parts in the route. You can see that most of what I filmed was in the actual nature reserves.

This is a road shared with motor traffic. But only people with business in the area go here, so the traffic is very light indeed and I met more people cycling than in motor vehicles.
A chapel on the corner of two roads. Two very quiet roads.
The entrance to the village of Boxtel that is very rural looking from this side. Some very old farm houses and barns.
The main road from Boxtel north to Vught and ʼs-Hertogenbosch was again much busier, but with a cycleway like this it is still very nice to cycle here.
In Vught the A2 motorway -that I cycled next to for a long time- is behind this sound wall to the right.
Entering ʼs-Hertogenbosch in the appropriately named Vughterstraat (street to Vught).

A 30 minute video showing parts of the cycle tour I made on Wednesday 8 April 2020.

The entire route which I cycled anti-clockwise. The black parts are roughly the parts that appear in the 30 minute video.




4 thoughts on “Ride along to a nature reserve

  1. Another great blog Mark – I have ridden much of this route myself, and have even been to the cafe in the woods!

  2. With much enjoyment, I will get to watch the accompanying excellent video later today. But for now I will say, as always, brilliant blog.
    Thank you.

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.