Le Grand Tour: Day 1 – The Hook Of Holland To Ouddorp (32km + 41km)

CURRENT LOCATION: Ouddorp, The Netherlands

Today could have just the 41km, or thereabouts, and it nearly was. My journey will, hopefully, end at The Hook of Holland, which is just opposite where the P&O ferry berthed this morning. A circular journey should really start and finish at the same iconic spot. The P&O ferry terminal probably isn’t that place so I decided to head to the Hook of Holland. Easier said than done as, although very close to ferry terminal as the crow flies, no where near if you need to cycle there. Hence the extra 32km, but I’m glad I did it.

I say I nearly didn’t go to the Hook of Holland as I was unsure as to which way to turn once I arrived at the end of the road that leads to the terminal. There were a few cyclists on the ferry and many turned right. I turned left but only after a longish pause. Now I think about it, they may have ended up going down a dead end road. You really need to look at a map of the area to see just how complicated the geography is. Throw in a deviation because of a closed bridge, a family from Belgium who asked yours truly(!!) for directions to the Hook of Holland and me losing patience rapidly. It didn’t look good.

Professor Matthias (see yesterday) came to the rescue escorting us all to the small ferry that you need to take to access the tentacle of land at which the Hook of Holland is the fingernail. The same small ferry incidentally that I took way back in August 2015 when returning to the UK from Nordkapp albeit in the opposite direction. Another 15km later I was at the Hook of Holland. 

I took a picture – see below – and contemplated the journey before me for a few minutes, then set off. 

Fortunately I didn’t have to retrace my steps too far. There is another ferry – yes, the third of the day – from near the Stena Line ferry terminal to one of the southern tentacles of reclaimed land. I waited until 1pm until it arrived and, along with a few other cyclists and foot passengers, it was another 50 minutes being rolled around on a glorified fishing boat. Actually, although it resembled a fishing boat, it was a hand-me-down from the city of Amsterdam. Built in 1958, it had ferried cyclists around the city until they recently upgraded their fleet and it was dispatched to Rotterdam. The captain of the boat told me all this and he proceeded to give me the low down on the development of Rotterdam port. It’s not just big, it’s massive, and continuing to grow. If they continue to reclaim land at the rate they appear to be doing along this stretch of coast, The Netherlands won’t be too long before they hit Norfolk.

Once off the boat, the cycling resumed and I set off again along long, high quality cycle paths through pristine industrial estates and then – rather abruptly – leafy green countryside. I guess the area through which I’ve travelled today is inhabited with the great and the good of Rotterdam as the houses are pristine, the lawns manicured and the roads pothole free. Then again, you could probably say that for most of The Netherlands. Perhaps it was just average.

I found the campsite that I had researched prior to departure without problem just 3km to the south-west of Ouddorp. The owner told me to pitch the tent and pop back to the reception at 6pm. €11.50 for the night. Not bad, but when I offered to pay by card she gave me her bank account details including IBANs etc… Will that double the price? Any advice anyone? 

The reason I couldn’t pay cash is because I have yet to find a cash machine. Or an open supermarket. I know it’s Sunday but… When I asked the campsite owner if she sold bread she said ‘they are a bit religious in the village’ implying that if she dared sell anything on the sabbath, someone with a white hood on their head would come and torch the place. Instead of bread she did offer me a beer – free of charge – and I didn’t turn her down. It was Heineken. Nice! It was also alcohol free. The religious neighbours can, at least, not bother with searching for the matches…


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4 replies »

  1. Honestly. Cash machine problems. All would be solved if the continentals accepted Brexit and started using the pound sterling.

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