Hanzestedenpad — along the IJssel valley

Hanzestedenpad: Streekpad 11 — Wandelen langs de IJssel (Wandelnet, 2020)

Full disclosure: this book is in Dutch. But the instructions are easy to follow, once you have managed to distinguish rechtsaf (turn right) from rechtdoor (straight ahead). The maps are impeccable, showing public transport options, places to stay, shops and cafés, and there are many good photographs — as with all the guides from Wandelnet, the Dutch national walking organisation.

So, along the IJssel. This river used to flow into the broad expanse of the Zuider Zee, but the reclaimed areas of Flevoland and Noordoost Polder have left a narrow gap between Kampen and open water. The main route is 124km long, from Doesburg (to the east of Arnhem), via Zutphen, Deventer and Zwolle, to Kampen, but the book also describes day loops and alternative routes, including an alternative final day to Hasselt: these bring the total distance described to 270km. The main route passes nine railway stations, and there are bus services throughout the area covered by the routes. There is a national travel smartcard (OV-Chipkaart) which makes public transport nationwide as easy as Oyster in London.

Obviously, this is not a mountainous route; it flows alongside water and between fields to link the historic Hanseatic towns of the book’s title; sometimes the route involves taking a ferry across the river. At Zutphen, the route stays on the western bank of the IJssel, while the town is on the eastern bank.

The style of the directions is often terse (so that means that you have less Dutch to translate!). For example (my translation)

Left at first asphalt path for Spankeren. Level crossing. Turn right at
junction in front of church, Dorpsweg. At the end, left, Bockhorstweg.

The descriptive text (again, of course, in Dutch) is rich in filling in the historical and geographical features along the way. Due to the pandemic restrictions in 2020, I have not yet been able to set foot on the Hanzestedenpad, but this volume (127mm by 210mm) certainly passes the test of confirming that I want to get to the IJsselvallei with my boots once “all this” is over.

Tot ziens, Doesburg.

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