We are so lucky to have the Bossche Broek Nature Reserve on our doorstep. Of course, many urban cities have large man-made parks but this nature reserve just south of Den Bosch, across the Dommel river laced with hiking and cycling is truly special though in the historical days it was just a swamp yet valuable for the defence of the city. You can take historical boat tours in the canals under the city and part of the tour comes out the city walls and down the Dommel. We took the tour twice and it was great and highly recommend the tour to anyone visiting Den Bosch.
A bit of history: s-Hertogenbosch owes a lot to the Bossche Broek. Enemy medieval armies could not get close to the city because the Dutch let this swamp run fill up with water. Hence the legendary nickname Swamp Dragon. The city lies on a sand hill surrounded by grasslands. These ‘pants’ remained wet due to the seepage water from the rivers Dommel and the Aa. And every year the Dommel also flooded again. Nevertheless, in 1629 Frederik Hendrik succeeded – after six attempts – to take ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He built a dike around the city and thus also dried the Bossche Broek.
On nice days like today, it’s full of people out for a walk. In fact, in all weather you’ll find people walking their dogs, out for a jog, riding their bikes and one day, I saw a man on horseback.
Today the kids were on their bikes and N & I were on foot. The bike bath which runs near our house to the entrance of the Bossche Broek runs along the street and as we were not on bikes, we had the kids ride on the sidewalk. You risk a fine when you cycle on the footpath or on any pavements designated for pedestrians but it was a risk we were willing to take – after all it was the kids riding not us. As N doesn’t yet own a bike, I felt like I couldn’t join the kids and leave him to walk. I know he’d prefer an e-bike due to his knee (don’t we all) but for short trips like this, a regular bike is fine and required!
They could go far ahead and then stop for a bit and wait. They are still learning the paths and M is still getting familiar with riding her bike with other people on the path like dog walkers, cyclists, etc. She fell once but didn’t make a big deal out of it.
We set off to see what the Zuiderplas Swimming beach area was like, how long it took to get there, etc. Clearly we are thinking when is this cold weather going to be gone – we are ready for Spring & Summer! Well, we found the beach area and the Zuiderplas Beach Bar – while closed, I’m sure it will be great when it’s warm. You can park near the shell gas station off the Pettelarseweg, but going by bike is extra fun for the kids and good exercise.
To get an idea of what it’s like in the summer, here is a photo from their facebook page, compared to today:
The beach area was large. Near the bar is a volleyball area, swings, play structures. In the water is a a slide and I suspect a dive plank in the summer – but not 100% sure. Anyway, it looks perfect for after school and warm days. It would be really amazing if they built a few pools to be like Staalbergven in Oisterwijk, one of our favorite places to go in the summer.
There are some deer and rabbits which live in the park, but we didn’t see them today. Due to the special grasslands there a lot of special birds which reside in the reserve. We did see a lot of ducks, a bird of pray (falcon?) and a few egrets but I’ve seen photos of kingfishers – if we were only so lucky. I’ve never seen one in person in the wild.
Here are a some photos of a walk we did in the Bossche Broek with some friends – this time we took the little passenger only bridge back.
And a few more photos from the past few months.
I’ll update this post as we go back into the Bossche Broek and take more photos – especially when the flowers are in bloom!