Fietsroute loop: Eibergen to Haarlo to Borculo to Ruurlo to De Haar to Beltrum to Hupsel to Eibergen in The Netherlands

This morning Bert Smeenk took me the short distance to meet his neighbour Bert Westhuis who two days ago led me on a cycle ride from The Netherlands’ Achterhoek to Vreden in nearby Germany and return. Today Bert Westhuis and partner Jacqueline kindly lent me a bicycle and guided me on a cycle ride to other parts of Achterhoek.

Like two days ago, we commenced from the poplar-lined Zwilbroekseweg until its intersection with Rekkenseweg. We crossed over the former main road Groensloweg and into the Eibergen centrum where rolls were purchased at a local bakery and popped into Jacqueline’s pannier. We continued beside the shops on the Brink then veered right into a park known as the Maat before turning into Grotestraat to leave the centrum.

Heading generally north-west, the road became Borculoseweg and at the point where this road widens and becomes the N822 we moved onto the parallel fietspad (bike path). The landscape progressively opens into broad farmland as the N822 bridges over the new and sweeping arterial highway N18 Groenloseweg whereupon Borculoseweg is renamed as Eibergseweg.

Cycling amidst light forest again we soon arrived at Haarlo, a church village containing fewer than 1,000 people. Haarlo is best known for its octagonally-shaped Dutch Reformed Church, also called the Oude Kerk (Old Church) or the Kluntjespot (sugar bowl), which was built in 1858. Throughout Holland, Haarlo became famous in 1980 for another reason – the discovery at the Memelink farm of more than 1,100 coins from the 13th century. Some of these coins can be viewed in the Museum de Scheper at Eibergen and in the Stedelijk Museum at Zutphen.

From Eibergseweg, we turned right and due north into Haarlosesteeg which took us across the Berkel. We traced the road for many kilometres as it meandered left and then right and then northward again until its terminus at Hekweg (N315) where we turned sharp left to head due west, again on a fietspad.

On the northern outskirts of Borculo we re-cross the Berkel and at a large traffic roundabout turn right into Needseweg, a local road that led us into the Borculo centrum. Some more supplies were purchased from a bakery in Veemarkt and then we wove a way through the town via Weverstraat, Hofstraat, Hoflaan, Doctor Scheylaan, Steenstraat, Pagendijk, Burgemeester van Weliestraat and Burgemeester Bloemersstraat.

Now on the southern edge of Borculo, we turn into Ruurloseweg and then quickly into Lebbenbruggedijk where again we were deposited among farmland, travelling generally south-west. The scenery became increasingly bucolic and the cycling ever more pleasant. We came upon a stream, the Slinge, where we stopped at a park bench to enjoy bread and drink together with interesting conversations about our lives and travels.

After we continued further along Lebbenbruggedijk, we made various left- and right-hand turns or sweeps into farm roads including Hietland, Weusdijk, Höfteweg and Koskampweg for multiple kilometres. Then we arrived at Ruurlo, a town of about 10,000 people. It was an easy pathway from there to Vordenseweg 2 to admire the Kasteel Ruurlo (Ruurlo Castle).

Ruurlo Castle is regarded as one of the prettiest castles in Achterhoek, partly thanks to its setting within a large lake and surroundings marked by expansive green lawns, deciduous trees and perennial forest. The first structure here was built in the 14th century but the Castle appearance nowadays dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, with some recent additions. We stopped to relax, admire the exterior and take photographs.

It became time to leave. Approaching the intersection of Haarweg and Hengeloseweg, we passed by the Doolhof Ruurlo (Ruurlo Maze), a beech hedge maze created in the early 1890s. The maze, which originally belonged to Ruurlo Castle, is the largest in Holland, with trails totalling 1.1km. Its layout follows a design by architect and landscaper Daniel Marot, who was instrumental in spreading the Louis XIV style throughout Holland and England in the 17th century.

Further along Hengeloseweg we turned sharp left onto a sandy/gravel fietspad named Spijkerdijk that coursed its way through lovely mature forest. We were now at the south-west corner of our cycle loop and about to turn north-east to begin the similar-length return journey to Eibergen. But we take another sharp left, along another dirt fietspad named Haarweg which led us to a rural locality named De Haar. We slide into a winding farm road called Muldersweg and a straight one known as Tolhutterweg before branching left into Laarbraakweg and then left again into Foekendijk which we followed for a long straight distance, generally heading north-east.

We crossed the N312 and turned left into Morsdijk for yet another straight section, still with farmland all around. At the intersection with Scheiddijk, we turned more directly north and proceed straight until Groenloseweg (N319) where we turn right for a short section and, leaving the main road, we then turned left into Goormansslatweg. This minor road runs beside a narrow gracht (canal) for many kilometres of delightful cycling.

At the terminus of this road, we joined Peppelendijk, then zig-zagged using Baksweg, an unnamed sandy fietspad, then Kooigootsweg and another unnamed sandy fietspad before re-joining a section of Peppelendijk further on. And then we moved onto another fietspad which fed onto Heelweg, a minor road that took us to the village of Beltrum which has a population of about 3,000. We made our way to Café Restaurant Spilman at Meester Nelissenstraat 21 for a refreshment, relaxing in the shady courtyard.

Now it was time to head for Eibergen. From Gaarden, we followed a very long fietspad that weaved through farmland and occasional forest. Here we came across a stone statue titled Karkgang which depicted a well-dressed woman with handbag hurrying to a destination.

The word karkgang apparently has a double meaning. One, it describes the walking paths that female farm workers used to get to and from the nearest Catholic Church. Two, it denotes the ritual that women used for cleansing in the Church after giving birth. Designed by local artist Els Smit, the statue was installed in 2008 on the occasion of the opening of the cycling and hiking trails in the Beltrum area by the Kerkepaden Foundation.

We connected with a quiet road named Meenweg. Many kilometres later, this road became Bruininkdijk. We were still amongst farmland, the vista beneath the vivid blue sky marked by deep green vegetation. We followed Molenweg, Lintveldseweg for a long section, then crossed over the new N18 arterial at a more southerly point than previously, and now we were on the edge of Eibergen. We took Beltrumseweg into the town, then Kerkstraat, Nieuwstraat and J. W. Hagemanstraat before the rural roads of Rekkenseweg and Zwilbroekseweg.

At the finish of the loop, we rode 55km – most of it on quiet sections of rural road and fietspad – in about 3h56m at a leisurely 14.1km/h. I was thrilled by this experience of rural Holland and wished that in my homeland we had similar cycling conditions. I remain grateful to my hosts, Bert Westhuis and Jacqueline.

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