A walk along the river, December 15, 2018.

I was very excited when I saw that the weather forecast called for a cold but SUNNY day, so I planned for a nice 8 mile walk along castles, a windmill, and the river Waal.

When I left for the start of the hike, it was about 32 degrees outside with grey skies. (So much for the weather forecasters).  The drive to the small village of Opijnen in the province of Gelderland took about 45 minutes.  Walking along the meadows I saw several Egrets and Storks in the distance.  A little further, a  lady on a beautiful black horse passed me by.  When I reached a small wooden area,  I noticed several hunters with rifles.  When I asked what they were hunting, they told me they were trying to kill some foxes, who were becoming a menace for the chickens at the farm next door. Fortunately I was told the foxes were hard to catch/kill, so they may be able to play in the henhouse a little longer...

The first "Castle" I ran into was Kasteel Neerijnen, which was built around 1600.  The last person to live in the castle was Julie Elise baronesse van Pallandt who died in 1971.  She was he last member of the Pallandt family who had owned the castle for 170 years. As of 1980 the castle is being used as the City Hall of Neerijnen.  Right next to the castle is the nice yellow Castle Church.  It is the perfect place for a romantic wedding!

Just a short walk along some meadows, the castle Waardenburg came into view.  This castle was also owned by the Pallandt family. The original castle was built in 1265, but destroyed in 1574.  In 1627 it was made livable again. Two centuries later the then owner added a tower to it.  During the second world war, the castle endured heavy damage due to German bombardements of the nearby Bommelse Bridge, after which the castle was declared uninhabitable.  Between 2006 and 2009 the castle was  restored again and is now being used by a Law Academy.

Back on the trail, it was a short uphill to the Waalbandijk (dike) with a great view of the "├╝iterwaard" Rijswaard.  (An uiterwaard is a large area where water can collect when the main river is overflowing).  On the way to the windmill, I noticed several deer roaming around the trees way below.  The "Korenmolen van Waardenburg"  (grain mill) was built in 1780.  After the 1995 flood, the dike next to the mill was built higher, which literally took the wind out of the sails of the mill.  The solution: the whole windmill was lifted up by 5 feet, which allowed it to catch the wind again!

The next part of the trip took me through the uiterwaarden back towards the starting point.  Being out in the open without any cover from trees, I started to get quite cold, so I kept moving along.  The closer I got to the river Waal, the wind made the temperature feel even colder.  There was a lot of traffic on the river by freight vessels taking goods to and from Germany.

After the trail turned away from the river, the wind died down a bit fortunately.  The final stretch, back to Opijnen, was via a another dike along two small lakes with some egrets and a stork.  The top of the dike was higher than the homes next to it!  The river flows right next to the center of the village Opijnen, where I watched some more vessels floating by, before returning to my car and some badly needed hot tea from my thermos.