River walk along Zwarte water.

My plan for today was a large walk of approximately 25 kms from Zwolle along the course of the Zwarte water to the beautiful little citys of Hasselt and Zwartsluis and finshing at the end of this river at the lake Zwarte Meer. These attractive little towns are homes to all manner of water sports but also home to a heritage fleet of fishing, Marinas with Yachts and numerous cargo vessels.

Whenever I plan to do a particularly big walk, I like to be ‘up and out’ early, but in order to do so, the night before is always dedicated to my planning for the day. I had checked the forecast and the weather was looking promising, even though it might be a little on the warm side, so I made sure that I was fully hydrated and had sufficient drinks to last the day.

I was ready to go, backpack sorted, and my watch was on standby ready to record the route. Starting in the centre of Zwolle my ultimate objective was the Zwarte Meer, and along this particular route there are a number of beautiful places to see which I hoped to capture as I travelled the route alongside the Zwarte Water (Black river ).

I headed towards the city and located the start at the bridge at the start of Zwarte water, the weather was a little cooler as I set off, however I always like to start a little cooler as once you get underway you soon warm up! I arrived quickly at a small harbour which was a place where they built long cargo boats, and I was fortunate enough to see a few still located there.

On the outskirts of Zwolle there are many bridges which I needed to cross to get on track along the main Dyke which I needed to handrail to the small town of Hasselt. This little city is a must if you like your history, there are many lovely historic building there like St.Stephens Church, the old town hall and a number of lime kilns. It’s thought that the town also boasts over 70 National monuments. I like to stop and think here of the things that happened so long ago, and often wonder what it might have been like to live there during that era.

I was nearly there and followed the dyke past the camping site Camperplaats Zwolsedijk full with tents and camper vans and walked along areas with a few houses or farms selling their milk or ice-cream. I was sorely tempted!!! Hasselt is a very popular spot and tends to get very busy in the summer with many events , it’s a very beautiful old place .

Nostalgic moment over, I had to cross the big road and hit another Dyke to follow the river to Zwartsluis a place which is mainly built and surrounded by water, but like Hasselt, is a very beautiful place. Unfortunately, along this route I had to walk on a path which I call the ‘devils road’. This is an old track around 2 kms long , pretty boring to be honest and undulates! quite a lot. It’s a part of the route where you just want to walk it as quickly as possible and get it over and done with.

The ‘Devils road’ was completed and I was quickly entering Zwartsluis. I enjoyed looking at the boats in The Kranerweerd marina harbour and the town gradually coming to life, the birds were busy in flight looking to find breakfast. I walked across the bridges and saw some of the boats waiting for the bridge to open. This is a very busy place at this time of year, but also a great place to see how a river and all the waterways are connected to keep this place alive.

The small streets of Zwartsluis were fun and dreamed about the past and what it must have been like here in its heyday. I headed back to the big road passing the locks with more boats waiting.

I was back on my route along the river and walked along in the grass with the sun on my back and it was starting to get hot. The birds were everywhere and next to me in the small water ways, I saw two swans with the young one their nest and that really made me smile. I past the little Ferry bring cars, motorbikes and groups of racing bikers ready for their sunday outings.

I was on the last part of the route and was feeling pleased with myself, the walk had been good and I had witnessed some fabulous things along the way, nature is amazing, but also also seeing all the boats in the places and rushing up the river to Zwarte meer , I was thinking how this Lake which I was standing by was in the 1930s called the Zuiderzee and all what I could now see used to be the Sea. Looking across the lake I could see an island called Vogeleiland ( Birds island ) which is a protected nature reserve, Bird Island in the Zwarte Meer is a paradise for birds. On this uninhabited island, at least sixty species of birds breed, including special species such as the bluethroat, nightingale, small spotted woodpecker, hawk and large warbler. Vogeleiland is an oasis of peace for birds and therefore a mecca for bird lovers. So this morning had been a great walk .

All I had to do now was work out where I had to walk to, to catch the bus back to Zwolle , I had a little bit of a wait for the bus, but was happy to sit and wait and eat the rest of my food and have a well-deserved drink .

Arriving home it was nice to reflect on my mornings venture, all in all a nice morning walk, a bit of a suntan and 25kms on the watch nice one Chris!!.

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