Netherlands 16: The route to Katwijk aan Zee

This year marks the sixth time we’ve visited Duinrell. We spent the second week of our holiday here, after spending the first week in Vlissingen. Given the number of times we’ve been, it’s surprising that we’ve never been to Katwijk before. We decided to remedy this with a ride there on quite a sunny day.

Leaving Duinrell, we decided to take the route alongside the N441, near the former airbase at Valkenburg. As you’d expect, the route was pretty much segregated all the way, with a high quality bidirectional path.

The route was also very flat and generally quiet, with views of the countryside. There isn’t much to see of the airbase now as it looks to be getting redeveloped, I think for housing.

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Riding alongside the N441
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Passing a horse

Something of interest that I’ve seen previously, but not necessarily given a lot of thought to are the number of bus stops you see that have cycle parking. This appears to be quite common in rural areas, with the purpose of enabling people to extend their range of travel by combining bikes and buses.

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Floating bus stop with cycle parking

Something that spoiled the enjoyment of the ride a little was the roundabout where the N441 meets Kooltuinweg. To carry on towards Katwijk, it’s necessary to cross three lanes of quite fast moving traffic. Motor traffic has priority and there’s no traffic signals to stop the traffic. With kids in tow, the experience of getting across is quite unpleasant and potentially dangerous.

I think this roundabout needs redesigning to give priority to bikes, include traffic signals or ideally have an underpass for bikes to use.

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Dangerous crossing for bikes at the roundabout meeting Kooltuinweg

Turning onto Kooltuinweg, then Cantineweg, we passed a very attractive and quite impressive cycle bridge crossing Westernbaan.

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Impressive bicycle bridge on the outskirts of Katwijk

Continuing past the bridge, the path ended and we were mixing with cars. Unfortunately, this is a narrow road but has fairly heavy traffic, including lorries. We spotted quite an attractive and new looking playground, so we decided to stop and the kids have a play.

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At the end of cycle path, joining a narrow road with quite a lot of motor traffic
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Stopping off at a playground

Back on the bikes, we continued towards Katwijk on quiet local roads, until we reached the seafront. It was slightly disappointing to see that the boulevard only has segregated cycle paths in one direction, with the other direction getting a door zone cycle lane. Given that it looks to have been redeveloped quite recently and that there’s plenty of available space, it’s a shame more couldn’t have been done.

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Looking towards the beach from the boulevard
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Riding along the protected cycle path on the boulevard

After parking the bikes, we headed to the beach for some very pleasant lunch and extensive sandcastle building. As with much of the North Sea coastline in The Netherlands, the beach at Katwijk is immaculate, with miles and miles and sand and dunes. If you’re lucky enough to get some good weather, I can think of nowhere better.

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Spot of lunch at the beach
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Some rather ambitious sandcastle building

After a wonderful few hours at the beach, it was time head back. On the return route, we decided to head for the dunes. The route through the dunes forms part of the Noordzee Route (North Sea Route). This is a cycle route going through all of the countries that face onto the North Sea, including the whole of The Netherlands North Sea coastline.

We’re already quite familiar with the route to the south of Wassenaar and to the north beyond Haarlem. The section between Katwijk and Wassenaar is much like the rest of the route, and this is a good thing. Riding through the dunes on the undulating, high quality bidirectional path is a very enjoyable experience, particularly with the sun beating down on warm afternoon.

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Oncoming bikes on the Noordzee Route
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Benches, bike parking and access to the beach on the Noordzee Route

As we approached Wassenaar, the Noordzee Route crossed the route to the beach at Wassenaarse Slag. We took a left here and headed towards Wassenaar and Duinrell, to meet our friends and spend some time in the pool. This was very welcome after a day in the sun on the bikes and at the beach.

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On the route back from Wassenaarse Slag, near Duinrell

Back to part 3 – The route to Middelburg

Next to part 5 – 5 myths about cycling in the Netherlands

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