Giethoorn to Leeuwarden

Distance: 88.7km

Time: 4h 37m

Average speed: 19.2 kph

Song of the day: That’s the weg (uh huh, uh huh) I like it

Click here to see today’s route

So, a day off, no pedalling, no washing kit (thanks to the cabin’s laundry room), and no rain! After a lazy morning, we headed out to take a boat trip around the canals of Giethoorn. It’s known as the ‘Dutch Venice’, and all the little canals are actually quite reminiscent of ‘La Serenissima’. The trip took us onto the lake itself too, and the driver explained that the entire lake and all the little canals had been dug by hand, the peat which was extracted then being used for fuel. It’s very beautiful, and seeing it from ‘boat’ level was lovely.

The driver pointed out things of interest as we pootled round, and was very patient with some of the incompetent self-driven tourist boats, who were getting themselves tangled up in trees and going the wrong way down one-way canals. One of the things he pointed out was a traditional thatched roof, higher at the back (where the animals lived) than the front (reserved for humans), and called a ‘camel roof’:

After the tour ended we popped into the supermarket for provisions, and then sat outside in the sunshine next to one of the little canals for a lovely lunch of flammkuchen.

After lunch, a little TLC for the tandem:

and then a relaxing evening in the cabin, with some home-cooked chicken and a bottle of wine.

This morning dawned misty but dry.

and we set off north, the last part of our route to take that direction. It was pleasant enough, the usual little cycle lanes through fields, and always the little waterways everywhere, we’re forever riding over little bridges, next to water, past water, so far not through water, and fingers crossed that remains the case! As it turned out, seeing the little film at Kinderdijk about the Dutch mastery of water management has given us a better understanding of the landscape we’re travelling through. Forty percent of the Netherlands lies below sea level, and if they stopped managing the water through dykes, pumping, sluices and so on for just three months, that land would once again be claimed by water. There’s often someone working on the waterways, clearing the channels, cutting the grass or wheat at the edges, dredging, or doing other mysterious stuff. They have lots of weird attachments for tractors to help, like this ‘edging tool’:

It’s dragging up whatever’s growing at the side of the channel and leaving it in neat piles next to the now beautifully vertical side of the waterway:

We started to see signs everywhere in two languages. We’d crossed into Friesland, and the second (or they’d probably say first) language was Frisian, also spoken in some parts of Germany and Denmark, apparently. Friesland is also famous for its Friesian cows, of course, and we saw plenty of those too.

With 60km done we stopped for lunch in Akkum/Makkum (everywhere has two names too, one in each language), good timing as it turned out, as today’s drizzle started whilst we ate. Only 28km to go after lunch, though, including a quick trip to Halfords to obtain a new rain-jacket for the captain. The zip end on his long-serving jacket finally broke this morning, we’d each planned to obtain new jackets at the start of next summer anyway but now seemed a good time! A very helpful man at Halfords in Leeuwarden, our overnight stop tonight, fitted him with a new jacket, and with a special offer on ‘last year’s colours’, the stoker bought one too. It’s pink. 😎

2 Replies to “Giethoorn to Leeuwarden”

  1. Think an orange cycling jacket would have been good for the stoker?!
    Good job you’re not cycling here – wet and miserable!

    1. No orange jackets available, fortunately! It has been pretty wet here, too – not a day has yet passed without our cycling through rain. The forecast for the rest of the week, though, is much better. Just need to get tomorrow’s long ride on the dike across the Zuider Zee out of the way…

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