A Kids’ Hike – the Netherlands

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A toy wagon.

As a child my sisters and I often spent our autumn holiday in a forest. My grandmother rented a small bungalow where she would stay with our grandfather, us and our parents. Sometimes others joined us. In the forest it was always great to go hiking. To make the hikes a bit easier our parents rented a toy wagon, to pull us around.

With the toy wagon we had many adventures. Sometimes we were quite reckless. We would sit in the toy wagon and go down a hill, steering ourselves with the iron near the wheels, holding the front handle up. This did not always end well. Once we even ended up upside down in a ditch. Luckily our injuries were small and we always had a good story afterwards.

One thing that did stick with me was the thought that renting a toy wagon would be a great idea when we would go hiking with our young daughter.

Visitors Center Veluwezoom.

A good start for your hike is the Visitors Center Veluwezoom. It contains a souvenir shop, an information center hosted by nature foundation ‘Natuurmonumenten’, toilets, a cafe/lunchroom and a ‘wild boar pit’ for children to sit in and watch TV. At the back of the building you will find a bike rental shop, where you can also rent toy wagons for a reasonable prize. We rented one that was covered with a thick piece of cloth.

In the back of the building where the terrace of the lunchroom is situated there are three places for children to play in. They can climb, slide, go through tunnels, balance and swing on robes. Most materials are very strong and sustainable. Kids can play there for hours, especially when the weather is great.

The coach house.

There are several hikes that all start at the Visitors Center. We followed one from a book, changing the end. Some piece of advice: some routes may not be easy to follow with a toy wagon, because of tree trunks and tree stairways on the way. We found out the hard way. Most of the indicated routes are being made wheelchair accessible but for now there are still a few obstacles.

At the start of our hike we passed a bee house. In summer this is a great place for young children to learn about bees, but in winter it is closed. We follow our route until we arrived at Coach House Heuven. This coach house is part of an estate that was built in the 1860’s. Unfortunately the manor no longer exists, but this coach house does along with a small Norwegian house, which can be seen at the end of this hike. These days the coach house is a setting for all sorts of events, like (dinner) parties, concerts, lectures and even weddings.

The climbing trail.

The estate also has a wooded area. When you leave the coach house you walk straight into it and after a few minutes you encounter a climbing trail that is excellent for your children. Our four-year-old had a great time there. The first time I helped her overcome her fears, but the second time she did almost the entire trail herself. Of course she wanted to go a third time and a forth.

The trail is completely made out of wood and ropes and fits perfect in its surroundings. Just before it there is a spot where children can make huts by putting branches against the trees. All is all it’s a wonderful place for children to play for a while.

The sheep pen.

We could have stayed at the trail a lot longer, but we were a bit short in time and we knew the next stop was great for children too. As we left the trees behind, we walked past some beautifully wooden crafted statues of sheep, owls and wild boar. From a distance we already saw the many sheep that are living in the sheep pen. A dog started barking, so all of a sudden the sheep started running. I can’t tell whether it was one of the sheep dogs that live there or another one. Many of the hikers we met on our way had dogs and I can imagine it’s a great place to go hiking with your dog.

From a safe distance the sheep looked at us as we approached their meadow. Some even came closer to have a better look at us. Our daughter Eryn was still sitting in the toy wagon, but she had a good look at them peeking from under the top cloth. There was a stable, where the sheep probably stay during the night. When we looked inside, one of the dogs entered and started rolling around in the hay. He seemed very sweet and playful.

The lookout point.

We continued our hike crossing a cattle grid. On it was a sign, warning us to keep distance from the wild animals we could encounter. For now we did not see any. There were plenty of other things to see though. The lookout point, which was a bit further down the road, gave us a stunning view of the surroundings. Most of the area was heathland.

Two men stopped at the bottom of the lookout point. First we were afraid they were after our toy wagon, which we had parked there, but then they started measuring the area. We were relieved, took our wagon and soon we were on a narrow path that led us into the beautiful landscape we had just seen. However, this part of the road was not made for toy wagons and it became harder and harder to pull. We were actually walking on a moraine!

The moraine.

This moraine was shaped by glaciers, about 200,000 years ago. The glacier has pushed the landscape upwards creating a fascinating landscape. At this point our narrow road had begun to go down, with every now and then a step so steep that we had to start lifting the wagon. Of course having a child inside was no longer a good idea, but our daughter loved it here and did not mind walking (or running) at all.

At the bottom of this moraine we decided that it was time to head back. It was still not such a good idea to have a child in the wagon. After the moraine was shaped the thickest type of sand ended up at the top on the moraine and the much lighter silt-sizes type, called ‘loess’, ended up at the bottom. It is quite heavy to pull a wagon through this loess, let along after some rain has fallen and mud puddles are all around.

Rushing back.

When we saw a steel bridge we knew that we were going in the right direction. This was the point where we were going off track and instead had to follow our book. We knew we would not get to see the Posbank (a stone memorial bench and lookout point, which also gave its name to this area) but our wagon needed to be back before 5pm and we were in a hurry. So up we went. Straight up a hill. This was hard for Eryn and me, let along for my husband who was pulling the toy wagon. We made it though. From there it was mostly downhill. We soon saw the sheep pin again.

This time there was a horse in our way. It was not carrying anything, not even a halter, and it was coming right in our direction. It must have been curious. We remembered the sign: don’t come too close to the animals. It must have been a funny sight. We rushed past the cattle grid, trying to keep the horse at distance. Of course a horse can easily jump over it. But this one didn’t.

The way back to the Visitors Center was now a piece of cake. We passed a place called the owl house and were in time to return our wagon. We even had time to enter the Visitors Center, where our daughter played wild boar in the pit for a few minutes until the TV went off and the lights went out. What a great day this was!

More info.

The Visitors Center Veluwezoom is located at Heuvenseweg 5A, 6991 JE in Rheden.

Also on Travelharts.com.

Our photo site has amazing albums on the Netherlands. The one on Veluwezoom also contains more photos of this hike.

The Netherlands have a lot of Nature Parks covered by forest and moorland.One of them is the Veluwezoom near Arnhem. Check out the photos.

If you are looking for another nice hike in the Netherlands, why don’t you read my story about the Ankeveense Plassen.

The Ankeveense Plassen are a great place to go hiking with kids. This area in the Netherlands contains peat-soil. Many animals live in and near the water.

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