Netherlands 18: Around Bovenkarspel

For the first week of our near annual Netherlands trip, we usually try to find somewhere new to visit, we’ve not been to before. In previous years, this has included stays in The Hague, Zeeland and Utrecht. This year, we found ourselves a very nice holiday home at the harbour in Broekerhaven, Bovenkarspel.

Our holiday home in Broekerhaven, with lovely views of the harbour

Bovenkarspel is a town located in the region of West Friesland, about 40km northwest of Amsterdam. It is located between Hoorn and Enkhuizen, with good connections and a frequent train service to Amsterdam.

Our holiday home overlooked the harbour and was just a few doors away from De Overhaal, a rather fantastic boat lift in Broekerhaven. We had amazing views of the habour and we were located well for getting into Enkhuizen by bike or further afield by train.

From a cycling perspective, there isn’t much to see in Bovenkarspel. Outside of a handful of segregated cycleways, it’s mainly just paint-on-road style cycle lanes. Based on previous experiences, this isn’t entirely surprising. Outside of cities, The Netherlands can actually be quite patchy when it comes to cycle infrastructure. Though, on the whole, still far better than the UK.

A typical street in Bovenkarspel, with just paint-on-road style cycle lanes

While traffic levels around Bovenkarspel were reasonably low, I didn’t particularly enjoy riding here with the kids. With parked cars to negotiate and a few close passes, it meant you had to keep a close eye on what was happening, much like you do in the UK. Altogether, quite a different experience to what you’d normally expect from The Netherlands.

Given the roads, we didn’t do too much exploring around Bovenkarspel itself. Most of the time on the bikes was spent riding to Enkhuizen and back, along a much more enjoyable route on a segregated cycleway.

A very typical scene in Bovenkarspel

There were actually quite a few people cycling in Bovenkarspel, so the poor infrastructure isn’t putting all people off. Though percentage wise, I’d say there’s also a significant number driving too.

The cycle parking in the town centre and at the train stations was ample and quite busy. The town centre cycle parking was a slightly odd configuration, with hoops to hold handlebars, but with nowhere to attach locks. For Dutch bikes, with integrated wheel locks, this probably isn’t a big issue. Though it did seem a bit of a waste of time.

Slightly unusual cycle parking in Bovenkarspel town centre

While Bovenkarspel might not be the most exciting place to visit, either as a holidaymaker or as someone interested in all things transport cycling. The holiday home we stayed at and the immediate area around Broekerhaven were lovely though, and it was easy to travel further afield either by bike or train.

Next to part 2 – The route to Enkhuizen

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