Monday, 22 July 2013

Nijmegen 4 Days Marches - Netherlands Day 4 19 July 2013.

Nijmegen 4 Day Marches - Day 4
Distance 44.6km
Friday 19 July 2013

This was Day 4 of the 97th Nijmegen March 2013, the last day marching.  We were lining up early again and marching out of the camp, to the band and salute, before the sun came up.  Today we joined the walking crowds as soon as we left the camp and turned left, as we had on day 2.  We headed west and the numbers of people walking and watching were almost twice as many, if not more, as we had seen earlier in the week.

We crossed the canal.

Then one of the main roadways, as we had on Day 2.  However instead of turning right through the petting farm we continued along the road way.

There was no hanging about today, we needed to get round and meet up at a place called Charlemagne field so we could all go in together, so there was not a lot of time hanging about.  A little way down the road we turned right and headed east, between open fields.

Over the four days walking, we had passed through lots of the Nijmegen area, some ordinary and some very expensive houses.  Farm houses and there had been lots of stables. Fields of crops, sheep and llamas.  All added to the experience, but nothing like the experience of walking through the small towns.

We crossed the bridge at Grave and the memorial to British soldiers who had died in and around the bridge.  The route took us back under the bridge and along the southern bank of a canal, heading east.

Just past Grave we passed the third windmill on the march.  We had moved from the canal and were heading towards Cuijk.

The crowds that met us at Cujijk were large, loud and amazing, before we knew it we turned right and straight onto a pontoon bridge across the canal, which had been built by the Dutch army.

What an impressive church

Over the pontoon bridge we turned left and headed north.  Crossing the bridge into Mook we continued north.  Some of this route now was going back along part of this route we had taken on Day 3, to Malden.

We made it, we had arrived at Charlemagne Field in time to have a short rest before we lined up and marched the last 5km into Nijmegen.

What an experience, I do not know the words that can be used to explain what an experience.  It was amazing.  People were standing from the barriers all the way back to the houses.  There must have been three to four people standing in each window and doorway.  Everywhere someone could stand to watch us march past, someone was standing.  There were even people sitting on the roofs, amazing.  We all had gladiola's, as we marched down the festive "Via Gladiola".

Once we had passed the dais and the grandstands we turned through the town to the buses which took us back to the campsite.

Today we had covered a distance of 44.6 km, a total of 163.8km over the four days.  What an amazing experience, especially the last 5km.  If I had not seen it or lived through this myself I would not believe it, something I hope to do again and hope I will never forget.  The whole four days were a celebration to life, not just for the marchers but also the hundreds of thousand people who supported the walkers.  Amazing, all thanks to Tim for getting me the opportunity to take part.

Thanks Tim.

More to follow

Boz North
Details correct at time of writing.
Follow link to previous Day 3 Nijmegan March 2013.

Nijmegen 4 Days Marches - Netherlands Day 3 18 July 2013.

Nijmegen 4 Days Marches - Day 3
Distance 39.8km
Thursday 18 July 2013

Day 3 of the 97th Nijmegen March was another early start.  The announcement today said that today was the hardest of all four days as the route was very hilly.  I think it was even warmer today, more than on the previous two days, and that was before we started.

The band played, salutes made and we set off, marching through the gates.  Once out of the forest we crossed the road then turned left and moved onto today's walk which turned back onto a very similar route to the day 2 route, heading west.  We soon joined the other walkers and again the numbers of marchers and crowds numbered thousands.

Once we had left the houses behind we were in open fields, and you could see all the walkers ahead and the walkers behind.  Masses and masses of people.

Today though instead of turning right then left and crossing the canal, we turned left and walked by the canal, well one of the canals.  The Netherlands are full of canals.  As in the previous two days it soon became warm and the sun cream was used to great effect.  Initially there was very little shade, as we walked towards Malden.

At Malden as always there were the local dignitaries, bands playing, bunting, people cheering, flag waving and children handing out sweets, biscuits, pieces of fruit and water.

Then it was over a bridge that crossed the canal and we continued south east further along beside the canal.  Some of the views were stunning.

Just before Mook we crossed back to the eastern side of the canal and continued south east. Then it was a turn north over a lake.

We turned east, then moved a brief distance south east before we turned left and headed north.  We were now about half way on day 3, heading towards Groesbeek.

At Groesbeek I came across the first windmill of the walk.  Which reminds me of all the other typically Dutch things I had come across on the trip.  I had seen someone doing the walk in clogs, whether they did the whole walk in clogs I don't know.  Every now and again I would even hear the tune "Tulips from Amsterdam" brilliant, what an experience.  It was a proper party atmosphere with clowns and stilt walkers.

After Groesbeek we continued north and started climbing the hills.  As we started the climb we could see the crowds in front.

At the top of the first rise, we could see the route drop down slightly before climbing again.  In places there was quite a lot of shade yet in others the heat beat down, not to worry locals were always on hand to provide water from sprinklers to cool us all off.

Coming off the hills we were back on the flat and now heading west through the last built up area Berg en Dal.  A quick stop and we were on our way again.

For a short distance we continued west then turned south west back into the shade of the forest.  It was not long before we were back at the camp.

The distance we had covered today was 39.8km, so after a couple of beers, it was on with my admin.  Sort my kit ready for the next day, some dinner, a quick soak of my feet, shower, then give my feet a good rub for luck.  Before going to sleep and rest for tomorrow.

More to follow

Boz North
Details correct at time of writing.
Follow link to previous Day 2 Nijmegan March 2013.
Follow link to next Day 4 Nijmegan March 2013.

Nijmegen 4 Days Marches - Netherlands Day 2 17 July 2013.

Nijmegen 4 Days Marches - Day 2
Distance 35.4km
Wednesday 17 July 2013

Day 2 of the 97th Nijmegen March started much the same as Day 1, except there was a little more tape on the feet.

We were lined up early again, before the birds started singing.  In fact I think it may be us that woke up the birds.  Even though early, it was still warm.  We marched from the camp to the band and salutes.  On reaching the road we turned left and joined the crowds.  Unbelievable so many people walking at that time in the morning, and already people were out waving flags, playing music, cheering us as we marched past.  We followed the main road west before turning sharp right.

As yesterday I was surprised with the numbers of people up so early to watch.  Many local people had moved their chars and seats, settee's and tables into the street to watch us and the thousands of other people march past. It was then I realized they were happy for anyone to use the chairs, even some opened their homes for people to enter, for the toilet.  Some charged mind?  Anyway the atmosphere as the day before was indescribably good.

A left turn and we soon crossed a large canal.

We were continuing west with a few twists right and left.  The route took us over a main road then turned right through what looked like a small animal petting farm.  The track was very dusty. Part of the route so far was a lot more sheltered than the route yesterday, which was good as it was starting to get a lot warmer. A quick stop before the route turned right and we were heading towards Wijchen.

The crowds on the sides of the roads thinned a little for a few km.  Then as we reached the outskirts of Wijchen the bands were out and playing, I wondered how long they would sit there and play?  A left turn then right towards the centre.

A sharp right and we were in the centre among crowds and crowds of people.  It was unbelievable the people we saw, British police?

Another turn, north this time and we were moving passed more dignitaries, with chains of office saluting and waving as we marched through.  Over another main road and we were travelling more north east now through open country towards Beuningen.

We crossed a narrow canal with its lock, flood gates. We were probably a little over half way now.

At Beunningen we turned right and headed east back towards Nijmegen.  A short distance from here we were following the river on the opposite bank to the route one we had walked the day before.

The new bridge in the distance. 
The crowds were deeper here with bunting and orange clappers were very popular.

We then saw the bridge we had crossed over on day 1, only a few km to go.

A turn right, south towards the start/finish into the centre of Nijmegen. The crowds here were a lot larger than on day 1, amazing.  We continued through Nijmegen back towards the campsite the way we had walked on day 1, passed the church and the beach volleyball courts.  Passed a care home where everyone was out to watch us march past.  Then into the cool shade of the forest where the campsite was.

Today we had covered a distance of 35.4km.  Then as on day 1 a quick beer, well a slow and relaxed beer or two, no two would do for today.  Some admin, sort my kit out for tomorrow, a spot of dinner, soak my feet, shower, give my feet a rub for luck and sleep.

More to follow

Boz North
Details correct at time of writing.
Follow link to previous Day 1 Nijmegan March 2013
Follow link to next Day 3 Nijmegan March 2013.