Walking from one train station to the next. That’s exactly what you’ll do if you follow the long-distance hiking routes that were developed by Wandelnet for Dutch Railways (NS). Some of these routes will take you through the Defence Line area.
You’ll be walking through the moors (Franse Kampheide) to the Gooise Lusthoven, where you’ll encounter impressive mansions that used to serve as summer residences for well-to-do families. This beautiful area is characterized by winding paths, lanes and ponds. After a stop at the visitor centre of Natuurmonumenten, you’ll soon be leaving the woods. The grassy path that takes you along the beautiful Ankeveense Plassen (lakes) can be soggy. Cross the river Vecht and take the footpath Stelling van Amsterdam (Defence Line of Amsterdam) through the age-old Aetsveldse Polder to the town of Weesp.
The Geniedijk is a remnant from the past. Walking along this dike, you look out over an area that has changed enormously. It’s hard to imagine that 160 years ago the ‘Water Wolf’, as Lake Haarlemmermeer was called, unleashed its gushing waves here. When the water reached the gates of Amsterdam it was decided that it was time to tame the lake and pump it dry. At the heart of the new polder the town of Hoofddorp was created. Having left the forts and batteries of the Geniedijk behind you, you’ll be walking through a recreational area along the ring canal of the Haarlemmermeer. From April through September, a ferry can take you to the impressive Cruquius pumping station. Following a towpath along the river Spaarne you’ll wind up in the beautiful city centre of Haarlem. All in all it’s an interesting and varied walk through an area that is abound with activity.
The Kennemerduinen dune route criss-crosses Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, which consists of sand dunes, country estates and beaches. Across the country estates of Duin- en Kruidberg and Midden Herenduin you will walk in the direction of the dunes (Kennemerduinen) and beach. At the Parnassia beach pavilion you can choose between two routes: along the beach to Zandvoort train station (15 km; 9.3 miles) or through the dunes to Overveen train station (16 km; 9.9 miles). If you choose the latter option, you’ll encounter a mix of woodlands, shrubs and dune grasses. You’ll also have to deal with steep climbs and descents. On top of the hill ‘De Hazenberg’ you’ll be treated to a lovely view. In Overveen you can visit the dune centre (closed on Mondays).