De Hoge Veluwe Nationale Park

If people think of the Netherlands as a travel destination at all, they probably think of Amsterdam, “coffee” shops, fields of tulips, or windmills. Whilst I’ve at least managed to avoid all those cliches during the half a dozen visits I’ve made over the years, I certainly never imagined it could be home to landscapes such as this:

Fortunately this area, the Hoge Veluwe nature park, is well known to my partner, who introduced me to it over the bank holiday weekend. The Veluwe is a vast region of the Netherlands featuring grasslands, woods and Europe’s largest sand drifts; the park is a microcosm of this as well as home to the art collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Somewhat controversially, the Hoge Veluwe is fenced and requires an entrance fee – about 9 euros, plus extra if you want to park a car or visit the art gallery. However, once you’re in you have free access to any of a couple of thousand white bikes, which offsets the admittance charge if, like us, you can’t bring one with you.

In addition, using the witte fietsen is rather more convenient than organising a rental, with no need for deposits or figuring out a route back to the hire place before it closes. Instead, you can just take any bike from any of the rack locations, then leave it at whichever is the most convenient. They are deliberately simple – not only do they lack gears, they also lack brakes! Fortunately this was less terrifying here than my first encounter with such a setup, on the city cyclelanes of Rotterdam. Thus equipped, we were able to trace out a pair of leisurely 13km routes: one a woodland loop back to our start point in Hoenderloo; and the other across more open terrain from there to Schaarsbergen.

For overnight accomodation we’d booked a room in the small Hotel et le Cafe de Paris in nearby Apeldoorn, which is conveniently on the rail network. To get to Hoenderloo (or back from Schaarsbergen) we had to switch to buses, which were straightforward enough albeit not very frequent on the Sunday. We picnic’d both days in the park, but on the Saturday evening we figured all the exercise we were getting justified a visit to Hoenderloo’s Pannekoekhuis – a ‘pancake house’. These had first been described to me as the even more improbable Pannenkoekenboerderij – literally ‘pancake farm’ – but whatever you want to call them, I definitely recommend a visit to one! Just make sure you’ve worked up an appetite first…

Here’s a few more photos from the Hoge Veluwe and the surrounding area; we were delighted by a field of young goats in Hoenderloo, and the scenery doesn’t stop at the park gates, with the bus stop and much of the ride home being under cover of trees.