Heeswijk Castle, July 2, 2019.

With two of the top 10 Dutch castles to go, I decided to get the longest hike out of the way, a 18km hike around Kasteel Heeswijk, in the Province of Noord Brabant. After a 1.5 hour drive, I parked near the Sint-Willibordus church in the small town of Heeswijk-Dinther.

A short walk through the neighborhood took me to the Airborne and Liberation Chapel Heeswijk, in memory of the liberation of Heeswijk by the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden”. From there, I walked out of town along a pathway towards the Castle.

Heeswijk Castle was originally built in the 11th century, and was restored in 2005. The original castle consisted of a motte erected in 1080. During the subsequent centuries this motte was reduced and in its place a castle was built.

The Castle has played a crucial role in the history of the Netherlands. Around the year 1600 Prince Maurits twice failed to take the castle. Eventually, his half-brother Frederick Henry did, however, succeeded in capturing the castle in 1629, which in turn enabled him to lay siege to 's-Hertogenbosch. In 1672 the French king Louis XIV stayed at Heeswijk Castle during his campaign against the Dutch Republic. At the end of the 18th century General Pichegru, a French general under the command of Napoleon used the castle as his headquarters.

In 1835, André Baron van den Bogaerde van Terbrugge bought Heeswijk Castle, which by then had fallen into disrepair, and immediately started reconstruction works on a large scale. The castle was enlarged with an armory. He also had the so-called "Iron Tower" built in order to house his and his sons', Louis and Donat, growing collection of art objects and curiosa.

The current castle museum attempts to reflect the life and traditions of the middle of the 19th century. Following recent restoration you can take a guided tours of the castle. The armory of the castle is used as a wedding location by the municipality Bernheze. The carriage house of the castle accommodates training facilities as well as congress and presentation rooms.

After walking around the castle, it was time to continue the loop hike through forests and farmland, having the paths and dirt roads all to myself. At the 8 mile mark I got pretty tired, and took a break short snack break in the grass along the road. The downside of this walk is that the park benches are few and far between, so you either keep going or park yourself alongside the road. The last 3 miles were hard on my feet, and back in Heeswijk I was glad to see the car!