Mookerheide hike – day 1
I’m sure heaps of people will have had to adjust their plans last summer. I know many still went on holiday, be it abroad or not. I too had different plans…I was supposed to try the Fjällräven Classic Sweden again. The event has been rescheduled to next year. I’m really hoping it will happen then, but it all depends on how well this virus can be kicked in the butt. Side note: so far, the Netherlands aren’t exactly doing so great, having gained the questionable honour of being second in place of countries with the most cases. Anyway, I didn’t want to run the risk of travelling to another country, not knowing exactly what to expect and what I could bring back with me. So I decided not to go on holiday. I did however, really wanted to do *something*. I decided to do a hike that you can do from train station to train station. I don’t own a car, so reaching remote trail heads would prove a bit of a challenge. These ‘train station to train station’ hikes are actually a great idea for those depending on public transport.
I decided to do the two-day, 32 km hike of the Mookerheide. The hike started at the train station of Cuijk, a small city in the province of Noord-Brabant. Armed with a full backpack, a trail map and directions, I went on my way! The directions were clear and it was easy to get going. First up, crossing the river Meuse on a small ferry. I love ferries, it feels so adventurous for some reason!
On the other side of the river, I continued the trail. After a bit of road walking, I finally entered actual natural terrain. The Mookerheide is quite the historical place. In 1574 the battle at the Mookerheide took place. Lodewijk van Nassau and Hendrik van Nassau (two younger brothers of Willem van Oranje) fought against the Spaniards during the Eighty Years’ War. Also during WWII many battles were fought in this heather field. On September 17 1944 part of the 82nd American Airforce air division landed here. During Operation Market Garden they were assigned to regain the Waal bridge of Nijmegen.
The area is on a push-morraine, created in the Saalien glaciation, and shaped further during the Weichselien glaciation and former tract of the river Rhine. Most of the area has become forest over time. The Mookerheide is absolutely beautiful! The trail went through only part of the Mookerheide, so I will definitely have to return to explore more of this stretch of gorgeous nature!
After the Mookerheide, it was time to hit the next nature reserve: Sint Jansberg. Lushious green forests with plenty of uphill and downhill, I got a good workout in for sure! At one point, I misread the directions and ended up in the wrong place, but that didn’t matter…on top of the hill were some remains of a huge Roman villa! As an archaeologist, this excited me for sure! After I backtracked, I found the correct trail and continued on towards my destination for the day: a campsite in the small town of Groesbeek. Towards Groesbeek, I found the directions not as clear as they had been previously, so for the last bit I just winged it in order to be done for the day! I pitched my tent, took shelter during the only rain shower of the day, had my dinner (freeze dried meal, real gourmet, haha), relaxed a bit, enjoyed the view and called it a day. And what a day it had been! Beautiful, sunny and tiring, but so rewarding as well!