Organizing the North Sea Bicycle Trip Yourself:
To print itinerary, select the text below, right
click, and choose 'print selection'.
Distance and Time: 250 to 280 miles (420 to 470 kilometers), 6 to 10 days plus rain
days. Trip can be extended on LF10 to the German border and beyond,
or back to Amsterdam via inland roads or via the Ijsselmeer.
Starting and ending
points: Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, and Den Helder (or Amsterdam),
Netherlands, all accessible from Paris by trains carrying assembled
bicycles. As of this writing there were several morning trains carrying bicycles from Paris, taking under 3 hours. There seems to be only one option for carrying an assembled bicycle between Amsterdam and Paris, which requires a 14 hour trip with two connections, at night, via Germany. A bike transporting bag will allow the Amsterdam -Paris trip to be done in 4 hours on a TGV. See the page of this site on "trains and bicycles" for details on bikebags and on researching and reserving trains carrying bicycles.
For cyclists coming from Belgium, Holland, or Germany, from the
city of Lille it is possible, several times a day (either directly
or through Calais) to bring a bicycle with you to Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Lille has two railroad stations, about 500 yards (meters) apart.
(From Calais it is easily possible to join up with the LF-1 Route
in Watten by following the Canal de Calais. However, the author
believes this would be boring, and suggests, rather, a quick train
ride to Boulogne-sur-Mer).
Ferry Service operates from Folkestone,
England to Boulogne. There is also return ferry service from Amsterdam to Newcastle and from Hoek van Holland to Harwich. These can be combined with train service.
For those originating in Amsterdam, a train trip (requiring use of a bikebag) to Boulogne-sur-Mer can be accomplished in 5 or 6 hours.
One day SUV car rentals can often be economical for two or more persons. Rates vary considerably from day to day. For all types of transportation, rates are usually considerably lower the further ahead you book.
Which direction to ride?: If you ride starting from
Boulogne, France, as suggested here, the morning sun will generally be off to your right, particularly once you reach Belgium,and midday sun, somewhat low in the northern Netherlands sky, will
be generally at your back. In the other direction, the midday and afternoon sun will tend to be in your eyes. Since riding into the sun is both hard on the eyes and reduces the clarity of views, this is probably reason enough -- all else equal -- to ride from the southwest to the northeast.
Wind: The author's limited research on the Internet ( one year'data), backed up by the comments of one Belgian drawbridge operator,
suggests that, for the months of June, July, August and September,
days of wind coming from the west (i.e., w, nw or sw) outnumber
those from the east by a ratio of about 4 to 1. (That is, there
are 66 days of wind from the west, 18 from the east, and 36 days
where there is either no wind or in is from the due north or south.)
In June and July, the wind most often had a northern component
(21 days from the north, 12 from the south and 28 days where there
was no wind or it was from the due east or west). In August an equal
number of days had a northern and southern component to the wind.
In September the wind blew from a southerly direction 75% of the
If the Internet data is typical, it is usually advantageous throughout the trip to be biking from Boulogne to Den Helder,
in the sense described below. In the more westerly parts of your trip you probably will be lucky enough to have the wind partly at your back; in the more northerly parts, in June and July ,it will probaby be at your quarter and in August and September also at your back.. This is, in fact, exactly what happened on the authors second trip in June, while in the first trip he was unlucky to have the winds against him all the way.
In summary, unless you have some other reason for beginning in Holland, it is probably best to ride from Boulogne (as decribed
Guide books and Maps: The
author strongly recommends that you obtain and carry with
you the guidebooklet : DE LF1 - Noordzeeroute (weighing 6 ounces - 146 grams). This book is in Dutch (an outdated edition in English and Frenchis no longer available). It covers the route only from Boulogne-sur-Mer to The Hague in South Holland. Published in 2006, it describes the signposting for the route
(LF1), the general nature of the terrain to be traversed, and many of the minor sights to be passed (but not the
major ones such as Boulogne-sur-Mer or Bruges). It contains 1:130,000
maps (from Boulogne to Bruges -- 1:150,000 from Bruges to The Hague) with the LF1 route marked (but the official route has been moved since in several places), and lists the phone numbers of some but by no means all
accommodations. The maps show the distance from the south end of the
route every 10 kilometers, as well as, in Holland,
the marker numbers (such as 23689)of the ANWB biking signposts, and in Belgium the biking intersection point numbers (but not the ones recently introduced in the Netherlands).
(This guidebook does not, however, provide detailed directions such
as highway numbers or where to turn, and also its maps lack detail
and highway numbers. There appear to be errors in a couple of spots.
You might wish to add highway numbers to the guidebook maps from
the description below.) Note: You will need to add an 03 in front
of all French telephone numbers listed in the guidebooklet, if calling
from France; or insert a 3 after the 0033 if calling from out of France.
You can order the guidebook from Buijten & Schipperheijn, http://www.buijten.nl/uitgeverij_recreatief/, ISBN #90 5881 2367 (12.50 euros in 2012). To learn about shipping costs and to order, you may wish to email them at email@example.com, or telephone (31)-20-524-1010. If you call, ask for somebody who speaks English.
Assuming you will continue biking up the Netherlands coast from The Hague, you will additionally need the map packet and booklets named the Nederlandse Kustroute, published in 2007; this booklet covers the route from Sluis, on the Belgian border to the Netherlands border with Germany in the northeast. The author highly recommends this map packet from Bruges onward. The maps in this booklet are bigger (1:100,000) and clearer and more up to date than the previously mentioned booklet, but do not cover Belgium and France. It can be picked up for about 18 euros (2008), in-route in Bruges, for example at the bookstore (buchhandel) on the main market square, or also ordered from Buijten & Shipperheijn, (see paragraph above) for the same price.
While not necessary, you may wish to have some larger maps to place your trip in perspective. Also, it will be extremely helpful, for France and in Belgiium as far as the Ijzer canal, to transfer highway numbers from maps onto the maps in your guide book, as they are absent. When you become lost, as you probably will several times, they can help you regain the route.
Also, do print out the map for Bruges, as is explained below
in the Itinerary. And print out maps of Boulogne-sur-Mer and Den
Hague, Netherlands, and Amsterdam, perhaps from Google: http://maps.google.com.
Bike Rental: Bring your bike.
is scarce along the route, and on sunny weekends it is especially scarce, so call ahead for reservations. The
North Sea Guidebook has some lodging suggestions. Additionally,
in each section of the Itinerary below, you will find suggested
resources in France and Belgium. In the Netherlands, try the French version of the following page on the www.holland.com site (the page was not available in the British or American versions): http://www.holland.com Click on Hôtels or B&Bs or your other choice. On the new page click on Zélande or Holland-méridion. The list is only partial. Try also http://www.hotels.n; a city often gives the list of hotels nearby. And also Booking.com and Tripadvisor.com. Web searches on the words "hotel" and a specific city will frequently turn up other alternatives which cannot be booked indirectly.
For Bruges, if you arrive without reservations and before 6pm, go to the Tourist Office near the train station.
Security Tip: Do not leave
your bike out unlocked, and if leaving your bike for more than a few minutes, lock it to a fixed object. Do not leave
it out overnight, or at all in the center of major Netherlands cities. The author was told this emphaticaly on his first trip, and on his latest trip a clerk from a hotel near Amsterdam voluntarily stressed the importance of this to the author, stating that stealing bicycles was a city-wide pastime in Amsterdam and a common elsewhere. Your touring bicyce will be an especially juicy target.
Helmets: Almost no Dutch or French riders wore helmets or hats along the itinerary of this trip. Potholes were virtually non-existent. I usually wore my helmet; but thought it safer to ride with a baseball cap in the mornings when heading into the rising sun.
Please refer to my home page for links to pages costs, on touring styles, transportation, bike types, rentals, maps, information sources, traffic ratings, packing, and security and safety tips. Refer to this page for information on French pronunciation, French bicycle nomenclature, and French road signs. Star symbols in the text show ratings given by the Michelin green guide books, which the author likes and uses. Three stars mean worth a journey; two, worth a detour; and one, interesting.
Numbers like this [120k] inserted in the itinerary indicate
, within a kilometer or two, the total distance from the beginning point of the route in Boulogne sur Mer, France. (It does not
count the distance from the train station, short detours to see
sights or longer detours to stay in hotels). By subtracting, you
can easily calculate each day's approximate riding distance. In the Netherlands the author has not inluded kilometer numbers in the itinerary, because so many possible route variations have already accumulated.
Because riding speeds and distances will vary (due to the effects
of rain, headwinds and tailwinds), and becauseexcept for Brugesthere
are no especially recommended overnight stops, this itinerary
is not divided into days. Because of the wind and possible rain, unless it is a weekend it is wisest to plan only a day or two in advance. The following overnight suggestions may be helpful
in planning your trip:
Possible overnight points: (All distances in this paragraph are approximate, and probably on the low side after the Belgian border, as the LF1 route has been lengthened.) Wimereux [about 2km +2 km detour],Wast [about 20km], Liques [32km], Zouafques [43km], or Recques [48km], Esquelbecq [78km], Cassel (80km + 10 km detour), Lo (of Lo-Reninge) [105km + 2km detour], Diksmuide [121km] Nieuwpoort , Bruges (Brugge) [173km - 2 nights highly recommended]; Middleburg, Renesse, Ouddorp, Rockanje, Brielle , Hoek van Holland
, Den Haag , Scheveningen [beach amusement area, Katwije aan Zee, Noordwijk aan Zee , Zandwoort, Haarlem,Wijk
aan Zee , Bergen aan Zee , Den Helder.
A few other possible night spots are mentioned throughout the itinerary. See the itinerary for some reservation Internet site suggestions.
Particularly in France and initially in Belgium, you should not
rely completely upon signposting, which is sporadic, but should
use these directions and also the maps in your guidebook, on which you will have copied highway numbers. You should
carefully study in advance the directions for the Boulogne-sur-Mer area,
the Bruges area, the Brielle-Rotterdam area, and the Den Hague areas.
You should also carefully study and plan your lodging possibilities in France,
and again in Zeeland.
Although the directions given below have been checked by the author, they
could possibly deviate from the proper LF-1 Route, due to its complexity
and length, or through error. Additionally, it seems that parts of the route are moved from year to year. In the case of conflict, rely upon the signposts as
as the most reliable guide to the official (but not necessarily the best) route.
Note: For lodging in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Wilmereux and in the Boulonnais, and Audomarois regions of the Pas-de-Calais French Department, consult the sources as discussed in the general information section of this site, or more specifically this site: http://www.pas-de-calais.com. Click "English", the click, under "Your Stay" "Accomodations. Choose the region Boulonnais for Boulogne-sur-Mer and the nearby countryside, or choose Audomarois for the countryside up to Eperlecques. Select the type of accomodations. Do not specify any details (because the selection of choices is so small).
Boulogne-sur-Mer, France: The Author's
has never ridden the official LF1 route in Boulogne-sur-Mer. Fom the guide book, here is the official route:
From the train station or other arrival point in Boulogne, procede north north west along the east side of the canal to the Office de Tourisme (tourist office). (The author did not see signs, but may have missed the first one near the station) From the tourist office continue north along route D940 until route D96, where you turn inland.
The author highly recommends a variation: rather than turning right, as above, continue straight on D940 into the town of Wimereux (this avoids most climbing and is only a slight detour), an extremely charming town. Once you hace seen the town, ride east on the south side of the little river towards Wimille (D233) and continue as in the next section, "Hilly Boulonais"and Audomarois".
After crossing the rail bridge in 500 meters, you turn right on Rue de l'Aiglon (perhaps to diminish the steepness of climb) and continue uphill untiil this isintersects the Rue Napoleon where you turn left. This shortly is renamed the Route du Chemin Vert. When you reach D96 you turn right again, and follow this until a roundabout at the Autoroute. Go 4/5ths of the way around the roundabout, exiting northwest on Rue Lèon Sergent, which veers left away from the autoroute into the village of Wimille. Turn left here onto route D233, the route for Pittefaux (not numbered on Google maps). See the continuation in the next section, "Hilly Boulonais"and Audomarois".
This variation allows you to visit the charming old town** of Boulogne-sur-Mer. From
the train station at Boulogne-sur-Mer, France (hotels) ride north
on Boulevard Voltaire and its extension Boulevard A. Comte. Turn
right at the end on Rue Nationale, and left at the main road, Rue
de Brequerecue, which becomes Rue de Porte Gayole and leads to the Ville Haute, the old, high, walled town. This is worth a
one or two-hour visit. In addition to visiting the Eglise Notre
Dame and walking the main street, you might wish to make a tour
of the ramparts, with excellent views over the city. In the high
town, at the desk in the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall), you can obtain
a map of the city (which does not show one-way streets).
After you visit, from the high town, be sure to exit by the Porte
de Calais, which is the gate nearest the Notre Dame church (walking
your bike on the sidewalk against the direction of traffic). If
you exit by any other Porte, you will ride substantially down hill
and have to climb back up again. Ride straight ahead for one block,
bear slightly left onto Avenue Charles de Gaulle, and immediately
turn left on Rue de Marignan, one way againt you. When this ends in one block, turn
left on Rue de la Paix, and in one block turn right on Rue Louis
Duflos (becomes Rue de la Colonne), which runs due north. In about 600 meters (7 blocks)
this crosses Rue du Chemin Vert, where you turn right heading north,
northeast. This changes its name (at the intersection of Rue de lÄiglon) to Rue Napoleon and you are on the official LF1b (northbound) route (look for a possible sign here going the opposite direction).
(Shoud you wish to also visit the charming town of Wimereux, continue straight on Route du Chemin Vert, bearing left onto Route de la Poterie, which (with a name change) leads there.) Continue as described above.)
When you reach D96 you turn right , and follow this until a roundabout at the Autoroute. Go 4/5ths of the way around the roundabout, exiting northwest on Rue Lèon Sergent, which veers left away from the autoroute into the village of Wimille. Turn left here onto route D233, the route for Pittefaux (not numbered on Google maps).
Hilly Boulonnais and Audomarois, France: Follow D233 eastward to Belle, where it changes to D252 . Continue
to where D252 almost reaches the National Highway N42 [15k]. Continue
on D252 which bears sharply northeast here. This curves back east. In Le Wast, at the intersection of D127, turn right and then
turn left. There is a hotel in Le Wast (phone 03-3-21-33-34-78
).Continue to Colembert. In Colembert turn left near the "Mairie"
on a small road (sign for Alembon) leading near Mt. Dauphin (201
meters (660 feet) high)the highest point in northern France. (Believe it or not, at perhaps 150 meters (500 feet) you are by far
at the physical high point of your trip!). In Alembon [30k], turn right on D238
for 50 meters and left on D252; the Michelin 1:200,000 map is off
here. In the Sanghen, before reaching D191, with the statue
of a virgin on your left, turn left and immediately right. Follow
this road into Licques [33k] (hotel, guest room = chambre de
hotes, about 35k from the Boulogne train station).
In Licques, at the dead end, tun right, and then immediately left in the center of the village (no signs).This leads to route D217. In
Clerques, where D217 turns right continue
straight on the north side of the Hem stream. At the dead end, turn
left and right. (From here on, be careful not to be confused
by local biking destination signs.) Pass the sign for Chappelle Saint-Louis.)
Where D217 comes in from the right, turn right into Tournehem-sur-la-Hem. After the little stream (in about 200 meters), where D217 turns left (west), you turn right. Follow this road (Rue du Vieux Château, then Rue de Tournehem). under the autoroute. It crosses D943 and turns left, now in Nordausques. (It is very easly to miss this turn; the author has missed it twice. If you do, you may want to continue across the auto route on D17, turning right on D943 (some truck traffic) and following this south past D218 and then a little stream, taking the third left turn into the village. This road turns left.
You should ignore
the map in the LF1 guidebook, which is in error. When possible turn right, just before the church
onto rue du Quimbergue; there is no
LF1 sign here but someone has written the letters LF on the side
of a building.
Flowers on hillside after Quimbergue.
At the Y in two blocks, where there is a red fire plug and a small
shelter, bear left onto Rue de la Panne.. N.B., this left is not signed. After
about 2 or 3 km, the road bears left, climbs through beautiful agricultural land, and makes a U-turn
back to the right before dead-ending at a yield sign.There is
an excellent view here towards the North Sea. Turn right onto
D219 [50k], which passes briefly through the Eperlecques Forest.
Stay on this, heading mainly south, until it runs into D221 (D207?). Turn
left. Watch carefully here as the LF1 sign is mainly hidden: Take the third left turn (in about 300 meters) onto
rue Lostbourg. This descends into the forest and curves to the right;
it is a rough road, the roughest of the North Sea Route.
In a couple of kilometers[56k], you should take the time to turn into the driveway
of, and visit, the Blochaus of Eperlecques, a Nazi WWII V2 launching
station for attacks on England and a factory for the production
of liquid oxygen (admission fee). Some other WWII weapons are displayed.
This is an interesting site, open from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 14:15
to 19:00 during the summer months. The visit could easily take an
hour. (It is easy to stay on smooth (but somewhat busy) road and completely bypass the blochaus if you haven't the time or interest; just stay straight on D221 into Watten.)
Afterward your visit, turn left on the road. Cross through
a tiny tunnel under a main road, and at the junction turn left.
The road leads around to the right and eventually reaches a bridge,
where you turn left (on D205) to cross the canal into Watten [58k]. (Chambre d'Hôte...A detour south of 8 kilometers to St. Omer may be a good idea
to find a choice of hotels (about 70 kilometers total ride from
the Boulogne-sur-Mer train station).
You now cross from the French Department of Pas-de_Calais into
the Department of the North. For information on the gites in the
region, camping, b&bs, and updated hotel information, visit
the Internet site http://www.cdt-nord.fr.
Click, if necessary, on the English flag. Then select the "Coeur
de Flandre" region, then select accommodations. Now select
the type of accomodations you are interested in. Some of the listings
are on or near the Route. Given the paucity of rooms along the
Route in this region, you should carefully consider planning in
French Flanders: You will climb out of Watten, but from
here on the hills will diminish: you are approaching French Flanders. In Watten, turn right on D26 and in about 1500 meters bear left
on D226. D226 passes through Bollezelle [70k], where there
is lodging (a tiny hotel - phone 03-28-68-81-83 and a chambre d'hôte); the hotel was
fully occupied on the author's first trip. You are nearby the Yser stream (Ijser in Flemish
- Dutch), which you will be following, on and off, for the next
Bear left through the town square in Bollezelle . In one kilometer, at the end of D226 , turn right on D11, cross D928, and turn left
immediately on the narrow Chemin de la Cloche. At a north-south road bear left and then right, now on the Rue de la Cloche. You turn right on D17 which crosses a rail line and leads into Esquelbecq (75 kilometers from Boulogne-sur-Mer,
gites). Continue on D17, perhaps the busiest road of the trip with
light plus traffic. Continue for 3 kilometers into Wormhout, a large town worth a stop (hotel 10 kilometer detour south in Cassel).
At Wormhout [80k] turn left at the traffic circle onto D55. Just
after crossing the Autoroute, and then the bridge over the tiny Yser stream, turn immediately right and follow a back country
road into Bambecque.(The author, on his lates trip took D17 and D167 to save time.) Exit the town eastward on D4-D67, and then
immediately stay straight on D4 along the Yser. At the D947
crossing continue straight. The road runs through Oost-Cappelthe
border with Belgium (food shopping) [92k].
Row houses near the France-Belgium border.
Belgian Flanders: Notice the remarkable
and instant change in the pattern of the fields, crops, and architecture.
For hotel reservation information in Belgium, try http://www.viamichelin.com.
There are also many hotel reservation services listed on the Internet,
which can be found by a search on Belgium, or a specific city, and
hotel. For information on other types of accomodations, you might
try contacting local tourist offices, or use the names recommended
in the guidebooklet.
Continue straight on (Grensstraat = borderstreet and later Kallestraat).
That is, when you angle into the main highway of Oost-Cappel, you
should continue across in the same direction towards Hagedoorn, right along the border between France and Belgium. The author was told that there is a B&B in this area, perhaps in Beveren or Roesbrugge. The road and
Lo-Reninge. At the angled intersection with highways N64 get on this highway, in the same direction as before, and in 750 meters, when the road you are on
curves left, branch right on a miniscule road. At the T, turn left
and immediately right onto Ekestraat. When this ends at a intersection, bear
right on Elzedammé Straat (straat=street), and immediately
bear left on Gapaard. At the T where, you should
turn left onto Clepstraat, which becomes Tommestraat, which you follow with several name changes, until you cross the
main road N8, and into the village of Pollinkhove. In the center of town, after the road
has turned left (north), take a right onto Vaartstraat , and in 500 meters,
after crossing the canal, another right, heading south along the
far side of a picturesque canal.
Statue of lutist on the square in Lo.
There are two hotels in Lo. The author has stayed in the Old Abbey hotel, which was the only one open in early June, and it is of descent quality. To get to Lo (Lo-Renige on some maps), turn left (north) at the canal, ride one kilometer, and turn left on N364 into the center of this charming town worth a visit. After your visit, even though it is somewhat longer, you will probaby enjoy backtracking to the LF1 route along the canal.
You will follow this canal, in fact the Ijzer River, always
staying on the same bank as far as Diksmuide. In a good kilometer,
after crossing a bridge over a little stream by a lock, you turn
left. There is a grassy area here for a sandwich, and a popular
restaurant that is much frequented by local cyclists on weekends.
You are likely to come across many many cyclists on the canal-side
road. In about three kilometers, the canal turns left again, heading
northeast. and in 9 more kilometers you arrive at Diksmuide (many
hotels, youth hostel, camping, good bicycle store (just south and east of the Grote Markt) .
A reminder here regarding the use of "bike points" (the author's terminology). They are found in parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. Each point is numbered (uniquely for that region) and a sign with the number is visible, usually at bike rider height, at a junction in a road, lane, or bike path. Arrows will indicate the way from the junction to a choice of other "bike points". Sometimes, when the distances are long or there are confusing side roads or turns to make, reminder signs will show you the way to go. These signs usually save a huge amount of time in finding one's way.
Market square, Diksmuide.
From Diksmuide (bike point 1), you have a choice of routes: 1. (Bike reference point sequence 74 and 3.).That is, cross west the Ijzer canal, and turn immediately
right on the Ijzer dike . At the junction keep straight (left), eventually
heading due west. At the first road turn right and stay left to
enter a long bike path through the countryside, exposed to the winds,
2. (Now signed for the North Sea Route) (Bike reference point sequence 6,2,4 and 3.) That is, ride north along the canal, and following signs, loop west in the countryside to the northwest bike path. From biking point 3 continue northwest on the bike path through bike point 38 to bike point 35. Here there is a branching. The modern route makes a long circuit through countryside to the west (points 34,33,32,16,15,72,14,4,68,5,65,65,66,82,(possibly a new route to 81 and 12 but for now:) 62,67 and 8), which may add about 20 kilometers to your trip. The "classical" route continues straight northwest on the bikepath (bike point sequence 22 and 8). All routes arrives in the town of Nieuwpoort
(many hotels and campsite) . A detour can be made to the coastal
beaches or nearby resort towns.
Bike path and wind turbines after Nieuwpoort.
The route classical route in Nieuwpoort follows counterclockwise the semicircular
outer road of the town, PieterDeswartelaan, and before the traffic
circle turns right on Siuizen. The new route cuts through the town to this point. Siuizen also forms, in miniature a counterclockwise
arc. One exits at the fourth right turn, Boterdijk after crossing four canals (bike point 9). Leaving Nieuwpoort, this road in two kilometers turns
sharply to the left. At the crossroads-fork (bike point 12) one continues straight
on the right fork (Schuddeubeurzeweg). At the end of this turn right
on Ooststraat (at or near bike point 13), which becomes Wateringstraat and follows the north
side of the Plassendale-Nieuwpoort Canal for approximately 13 kilometers
 (bike point sequence 19,18.53.54,30,29). Nearby Oudenberg has a hotel, and there also are many hotels
in the resort town of Oostende, on the beach just off the route.
When this Canal dead ends, it is quite easy to go far out of your way -- unless you care to miss the very special, highly recommended city of Bruges (Brugge). The new signposting for the North Sea Route doesn't lead to Bruges, or if it does, it is by an extremely circuitious route. The classical route (that is the route followed in the late 1990s) (29,42,47,49,57,65,63,4) goes straight up the south side
of another canal, the Oostende-Brugge (Bruges) Canal for about 14 kilometers, on a road. The new route, which doubles back from the northwest, is about twice as long, and is to be avoided, unless you are bypassing Bruges. A route which the author explored, not an official one in any manner, allows you to see the beautiful countryside near Bruges, and only adds about 7 or 8 extra kilometers: Follow 29,28,24,23,22,21, towards 19 (or better towards 61 if it is marked), turning right off the bicycle route to ride in the bikelane alongside the old highway into Bruges.
Chapel along the author's countryside bike route before Bruges.
Cyclist obtaining directions from a local rider, countryside before Bruges.
City of Bruges (Brugge)***: [Around 174 KM by the classical routes, up to 220 by newer variations]. You should leave LF1 and ride or walk your
bike into the center of the city By all means, print out a map of Bruges from
the online tourist office at this URL: http://www.brugge.be. Search under the word "map". The tourist office(recently moved) is indicated by an I in square C10. The
office can make hotel reservations for you if you have not called
ahead (recommended). The site provides much useful information
on Bruges tourist sights and hotels. Bruges contains three youth
hostels and over 100 hotels. In the author's opinion, Bruges is one of the most wonderful
towns in Europe. Stay at least two nights; you should plan to
spend at least one full day touring Bruges on foot . A booklet for sale for a euroat the tourist office or in most hotels lists walking tours of the city.
Some Bruges Scenes:
The Noordzeeroute leaves Bruges to the northeast, along the Brugge-Sluis
Canal (points 2,10,13,25,16.17,18,19,56,55,54).The signposting can be confusing; remember that you are on the LF1b (northbound) not LF1a (southbound). The ,author took a signposted detour off the canal, and regreted it. The best is to just stay along the canal(s) as per the bike numbers above. Just before the town of Sluis [190k], in about 16 kilometers,
you will cross the border into the Netherlands.
Southern Zeeland (Netherlands): The author found the transition
from Belgium to the Netherlands astonishing. Though the terrain
is identical, there are obvious differences in the farms, in land
use, and in city style.
Normally, in the Netherlands, the LF1 route is well marked, and if you pay attention you will seldom get lost. The set of maps called "Nederlandse Kustroute" (see the discussion above) are more detailed than those of the the other guide book. For these reasons, the directions given below are usually much less detailed than those preceeding for France and Belgium. The text also no longer gives the distances from Boulogne-sur-Mer; because there have been so many possible route choices, these would probably be meaningless..
For information on hotels and other accomodations in the Netherlands, visit the Internet site http://www.holland.com.
The town of Sluis contains hotels and campsites. The town center is definitely worth a visit. To visit, where, just before the town, the LF1 crosses the canal heading east, turn left on the far bank of the canal and continue north .
Bridge over the canal at Sluis.
If you visit Sluis the best route is to exit Sluis to the north along highway N675 (soon a bike path), and turn left shortly after the canal
onto a new bike path. You should see a sign forLF1 and bike point 30. If you remained on the NF1b route, you will circle the ramparts of the town and ride through the countryside. (There are some markers with unique numbers on them and arrows to other markers: You'll follow 15291,24535,and 24537, before joining the bike path along N675., Then turn left as described above.
The new route for LF1 visits the town of Retranchement (BP 30), then heads north on Moolenstraat to the village of Cadzand. You have a choice of making a 4km loop on the main route, or you can just continue staight for 1 Km and pick up the route again. When you arrive at the dunes (markers 21713 and 11187) you can decide whether to continue along the LF1 a bit inland, to the ferry terminal. But if it is not too windy, the author highly recommends riding up to the the beautiful path along the top of the dunes. Keep eastward until this path ends, continue in the same direction, until you arrive at the ferry terminal (you will briefly head south and then back north to the terminal).
There are hotels in Bresskens, just after the ferry. The ferry, which usually runs every half-hour (5 or 10 minutes before the hour - half-hour), crosses the wide Western Scheldt
estuary to Vlissingen in about twenty minutes (hotels in Vlissingen).
Cheese shop in Middelburg.
From the ferry dock, the main road to the west, Paul Krugerstraat,
leads in a few blocks to the Gideweg. Turn right. Soon you are along
the west (east?) side of a northward-running canal, which you follow into
Middelburg [220k] a charming town, (hotels, Michelin starred restaurant, 50 kilometers
from Bruges). Middelburg is a logical stop, as it is a lively town, and as accommodations
are rare in the subsequent 40 kilometers. A bike repair service
is located in the railway station. Do not undertake the next
section in rainy or excessively windy weather!
Swans seen in a village north of Middelburg.
Crossing the Zeeland and South Holland Dikes: From the center of Middleburg, at the train station, the LF1 heads
north, along a warren of roads. The present routing is along N663 out of Middelburg into the country side, then along farm roads to the east of N663 north through Zanddijk to the charming town of Veere; then northwest along N663 into the village of Vrouwenpoler with some charming cafes. The route then heads due north on Fort Den Haakweg; then back east, near the shore, onto the sea dike. The beach just before the dike is the widest, cleanest and prettiest of this North Sea trip. It receives in summer many visitors from the large commercial centers to the south such as Brussels, Antwerp, Gent and even Lille.
Beach near the Stormvloedkering Dike.
This dike becomes, the Stormvloedkering*** (storm tide dam); it
is 10 kilometers long, and completely exposed to the elements. For the author, cycling
across this dam (built in 1986), alongside the highway but on a
separate road, was, on both his trips, a fantastic experience. The dam has huge plates
which descend to stop the surge of water during big storms; otherwise
the plates are left raised and the bay undergoes its natural tidal
cycles. The history of this area, marked by many devastating floods,
is worth learning.
The LF1 passes through the outskirts of Westenschouwen and enters the dunes and forest of Schouwen. Those with very little time could leave the route, riding northeast from Westenschouwen to Burgh, and this would probaby save 10 kilometers; but don't take this shortcut! The dunes and pine forest of Schouwen are exceptionally beautiful, and there is nothing else on this trip like them.
After reaching Burgh by the dunes, the LF1 turns northwest, back to the dunes of the north shore, which it follows to the Bouwersdam dike. The author chose to stay in land, and followed a well-frequented bike path in a nature reserve to the interesting and very busy resort town of Renesse (hotels) before picking up the LF1 near the Brouwersdam.
The Brouwersdam (roughly 5 kilometers
long) leads to the island of Overflakkee, which is no longer Zeeland, but part of
the province of South Holland. Once across the dike, the LF1 leads north of Ouddorp (hotels), through Goedereede, and through Havenhoofd, to the Haringvlietsluizen Dam.
You are on the island, or perhaps peninsua of Voorne. Five kilometers off the route to the left, near the town of Rockanje, there is a large resort hotel. The LF1 crosses north through Brielle, which is is an older urban enter (hotels), then heads southeast and crosses northward over two bridges into Rozenburg.
Barge along Nieuwe Waterweg looking towards Rotterdam.
A jarring sensation occurs as you cross both spans of the first bridge,
then follow to the right, east, across a third span alongside a
superhighway. No longer are you in the bucolic countryside of the Netherlands, but immediatlely,
all too sudenly, in a modern industrial, urban landscape, with tanks, cargo ships, railroads and boat yards nearby
the important port city of Rotterdam. When possible you exit the bridges and
ride in a looping route through Rozenburg, down to the water of the Nieuwe Waterweg, which is the
main shipping channel of Rotterdam. All of these channels are the delta of the Rhine River, which originates in the Swiss mountains and runs two-thirds the length of Germany before crossing into the Netherlands. You will
soon see the Rozenburg ferry terminal on the bank, below the cliffs. The ferry crosses every 15 minutes
to the town of Massluis. From here, if you wish, with the aid of
detailed Holland biking maps, as described in the introduction,
you could take a side trip into Rotterdam.
The mainland of Holland: LF-1 exits the ferry terminal to
the left, crosses the rail line, turns left, and cross the rail
line again [310k] back towards the river. It now heads north west, between the rail line
and the shore of the Nieuwe Waterweg.
The route turns right on Schenkeldijk (it is easy to miss the
turn) and left on Oranjedijk, but you can choose to continue on
a bike route along the shore, eventually passing under the tracks
and continuing on the other side into Hoek van Holland. If you are
following LF1 -Oranjedijk route, this will veer right to avoid the Nieuworanjekanaal,
then continue with some jogs in the same general direction to Hoek
van Holland. This ride is interesting because of all the greenhouses you see, presumably growing tomatoes. There are many hotels in Hoek van Holland, which today is a beach-side resort.
The final kilometers of your trip, approximately 150 in number, follow the dunes
north along the shores of the South and North Holland provinces. Much of your riding will be slow going, as the often-rough bike paths curve left and right, and go up and down many small hills. Additionally, many Dutch riders on roadster type bicycles (3 speeds or no speeds), will occasionally block your way. Cycling seems to be the passion of many of the Dutch of all ages.
distance inland, spaced along the route, are rail stations with
connections to Amsterdam. Should you wish a faster journey once north of Wassenaar, better paved, straighter bike paths alongside the roads. For most of the passage north, the marking
is excellent, and very easy to follow. Written directions, however,
will help in some key trouble spots.
The route in Hoek van Holland starts two blocks to the west (towards
the ocean) of the extention from highway N220 where it crosses highway
E30,or you can just head north as close to the beach as possible.
It soon angles left into the dunes. The route presents no problem
until the middle of Den Hague**, the capital of the Netherlands
[333k - 343k]. (If you have the time and inclination, it is well worth visiting the famous
Mauritshuis museum there, with its Rubens, Rembrants, and Vermeers.)
Unfortunately, it is all too easy to loose the LF1 Cycle Route
in Den Hague and the adjoining Schevenigen. The author has done so twice, and lost a couple of hours each time. The second time the lost author came upon the LF1 route, but it appeared to be running in the rong direction --he should have rembered that his direction was the LF1b (and yes, looking afterwards at a map, he saw that the route looped back to the correct direction). After asking for and receiving incorrect diretions on this last trip the author found himself at the seaside boardwalk in the town of Scheveningen, a sort of amusement park along the sea with tall hotels behind. It was very interesting indeed, well worth a visit, but police regulations and the crowds made it necessary to walk one's bike for two kilometers. (If you do go there, at the northeast end of the boardwalk exit to the main road a long block east. Not at the streetcar turnaround at the end of the road, nor taking the path into the dunes here, but rather back southwest a long block go inland - left -on a walk. This joins a road which angles back from a block further on, but avoids the traffic.. Turn left when possible on a road then path into the dones, and this will join the LF1 at marker 22726.
Here are directions for Den Haag - Scheveningen: After the town of Monster, you will be following very close to the beach. In Kjkduin you will have to turn right for a couple of blocks, then left, to cross (under?) a highway, before turningwhile left again and right back to the shore bike path. The city of Den Haag will be off to your right. Continue along the shore almost 3 Km until the LF1 curves inland and you go along a neighborhood street in the same direction. Turn right, left, left and then angle right (to cross a bridge over a canal), then pass near a harbor (on Dr Lelykadestraat or perhaps Koppelstokstraat). You need to get inland (and while this may not be the official route, it will do) you can take Van Bergenstraat right (becomes Statenlaan (one way your way, and in two or three blocks turn left on Doomstraat. Branch left still on Doomstraat, and stay left at the junction. At the next junction branch left on Johan van Oldenbameveltaan, and then take the next right onto Van Dorpstraat, which runs into the major artery Scheveningseweg. (if you arrive at Scheveningseweg by some other routing, fine! The author made it to this street on both trips, but then lost his way. )
Turn right and take the very next left, just before a park on the left. This is called Kanalweg. If you have gone astray, you should be able to spot this park, which is the first of several as you come inland, and the turn just before it. Branch right immmediately from Kanalweg onto Van Stoklaan, and turn right at the next intersection on the one way Van Stolkweg. At the end of this turn left on Hogeweg, and at the end bear right onto Duinweg, now completely in the park. According to the LF1 map there is a bike path that cuts off the loop on Duinweg, but in any event you regain Duinweg and ride to a T. Turn right on Haringkade across a canal, take the next left across a another, perpendicular canal, and turn right imediately onto Wagenaarweg, now outsde the park. Stay on Wagenaarweg until it ends at a major intersection (Badhuisweg) where you bear left, or possibly just go straight across into a divided road, Pompstationsweg. After a long ride, at the very end of this, you bear left and right into the dunes.
Normally, in the dunes, you will have passed Dutch bikers ambling
along on their one-or-three speed city bikes, but now, near Wassenaar, you meet riders in cycling clothes on their expensive racing
bikes: Wassenaar is the Beverly Hills of Holland. Stars live there,
as well as executives that commute to towns as far away as Amsterdam.
You pass through Katwijk Aan Zee (hotels) (before the town,
the Route turns left and then right, passing just along the ocean).
Continue north to Noordwijk (hotels) and Zandvoort*
(hotels, 60 kilometers from Hoek van Holland). Just before Zandvoort
you enter the province of North Holland. Again, in Zandvoort, you
may become lost. The LF1 turns inland to Bentveld, branches briefly north near a canal, and bears left. At the T turn right, riding east northeas near a rail line. The bike path bears right and ends at Duinlustweg. Turn left and follow to Browerskolkweg, on the outskirts of Harlem, where you take a very sharp left to continue on the LF1b. Bear right here, still on the Duinslustweg, to ride to Amsterdam. (The easiest way, about 30-35 Km, not devoid of traffic, to be sure, may be to curve north -name changes to Korte Zigweg and Bloemendaalseweg - crossing the rail line to the traffic circle. Turn right on N200, the Julianalaan, with bike lanes. At the end of this, at the big traffic circle go right - still on N200 - the Versproonckweg, also with bike lanes. This becomes the Oudeweg. Then N200 turns right, but stay on the Oudeweg, and where this curves right and changes names, bear left on the a. Hofmanweg, and imediately right two times to pick up a bike path heading south. At the T turn left, riding north of the rail line. The route will be marked from here, if not earlier.) There are many other routes to Amsterdam, and sign posts will indicate the way there, as well as to the towns on the way.
The author has never ridden the remainder the remainder of the LF1, as he rode both times to Amsterdam. The following description is based upon maps and reading.
After the Brouwerkskolkweg,
the LF1 enters the Bloemendaal National Park, again as a bike
path, about 2-3 kilometers in from the sea.
At the Nordsee Kanaal, the bike path comes to an end, and
one rides left a short distance to the ferry dock, or by continuing
further west(!), one can ride across the sluices, from which the road
merges with that from the ferry. The town of Ijmuiden is industrial. There is a bicycle path from the ferry eastward, along the south
shore of the canal, that leads, in about 19 kilometers, directly
to central Amsterdam.
From the ferry, the LF-1 continues due north, zigzagging right
and left, and in about 4 kilometers reenters the dunes. Hotels are
available just off the route in Wijk aan Zee, Bergen aan
Zee, and Schoorl aan Zee, respectively 77, 102, and
107 kilometers from Hoek van Holland. In Alkmaar (hotels), a short
detour inland, the sight of the 10:00 a.m. cheese market is worth
The final 40 kilometers of the Nordzeeroute follows alongside or
within the dunes, and there is almost no chance of becoming lost.
About 20 kilometers before the route's end [449k], you could branch
right on Route LF-10, which leads across the Ijsselmeer dike (see
the Ijsselmeer page on
this site), and eventually to the German border. In Den Helder [470k],
you could take a ferry to the northern island of Texel,from which you can loop back to the LF-10. The Nederlandse Kustroute map set provides maps that give all the alternative routes as far as the German border. You can also catch the
train for Amsterdam, or should you feel the need for more time in the saddle, via an inland route or via the Ijsselmeer
route described elsewhere on this site, bike back to Amsterdam.
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