Day 5, Delfzijl to Wilhelmshaven: Copenhagen

Today we discovered the joys of a strong headwind and the difference a border makes. On the latter, the Dutch drivers are more respectful of cyclists than the Germans: this far. We even had to wait to cross a road.

A short ferry ride bridges the nations. Small differences appear. Rather than herringbone brick paths, horizontal patterns; more cattle than arable; more flags. Architecture broadly similar though no thatch. Cycle paths not as good, though still excellent.

Lots of great birds abound for those who know what to look for. They don’t recognise borders either.

Here is our route.

Day 4, Leeuwarden to Delfzijl: Copenhagen

As it gets more rural, with greater distances between places, the desire for coffee shops and ice-cream intensives, only to be sated in the main city, Gronigen. Never far from water, lush green fields abound.

Now if you’d asked me, I wouldn’t have thought of Holland and thatched roofs. Perhaps logical, given the relationship with the Fens and Broads. Here huge roofs sweep down and thatch covers tiles or corregated sheets. Often it only covers three quarters, presumably the bits that need insulated.

Bikes seem to assume right of way over everything, including each other. There must be a secret code or signal to agree who goes first.

Here is our route

Day 3, Den Helder to Leeuwarden: Copenhagen

Soon we’re crossing into Freisland, which must translate as flat. Most of today is below sea level, an excellent tailwind, with a third of our day along an 8mile causeway. This turns out to be a birdlife haven. The parcel of oystercatchers make a fine sight as they align in perfect formation to minimise the wind. No doubt this will has been adopted in the windmills that keep the water pumping.

 

Although very flat, the landscape is never boring. Punctuated every now and then by pretty, and well manicured, villages make the most of their canal features. They feel lived in Vs tourist.

Leeuwarden has just completed its turn as European City of Culture. That had passed us by until now. Arriva buses appear, hopefully more punctual than the service we get.

 

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This is our route

Day 2 Ijmuiden to Den Helder; Copenhagen

Leaving the hills of the first day behind, North Holland stretches out like a bit of rolled pastry ahead of us. First we navigate the steelworks, now owned by Tata. Is this a crafty two way Brexit hedge position? The surrounding towns are quite different in feel to the surrounds of Port Talbot: a lot brighter with more space.

Again we are reminded of how cycling is the norm. People cycling in normal clothes along traffic free avenues. The occasional alium field draws the camera’s eye. The dune/dyke system dates from 1610, hopefully well maintained as most of today is below sea level.

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Den Helder is the home of the Dutch navy. Think one of the two ships was kind out at sea today, probably looking for the British fleet – that’ll keep them at sea for a whole then.

Here is our route