After another day of hanging round the rides and pool at Duinrell, I was keen to get out for another ride. This time, I decided to head north, initially to Katwijk and then on to Noordwijk. In terms of distance, Katwijk is about a 9 km cycle ride from Duinrell, and Noordwijk another 6 km.
While both Katwijk and Noordwijk are seaside towns, on the North Sea coast, they’re quite different. Katwijk is pretty low key and quiet, and low rise. Noordwijk is much more of a holiday resort, with big hotels and casinos on the seafront.
The route to Katwijk
Setting off from Duinrell, I turned left towards the beach, before going right onto the N441. This was part of the route I went along my first ride of 2022, Around Wassenaar and Valkenburg, though the weather was substantially on better this time.
The cycle route along the N441 is mostly a very generous and smooth two-way cycle path, passing through fields and trees. This makes for a pleasant ride, unless you happen to get a headwind. Reaching the N206, I crossed over to the other side and carried on along some quieter roads.
I then continued onto Zeeweg, with it’s red paved cycle path. This looked to be quite new, which is quite unusual, for a paved cycle path. Paving like this tends not to be used for cycle paths nowadays, as it gets bumpy over time. As asphalt is easier to lay and requires less maintenance, you often see it being used to replace the old paved cycle paths.
Along Zeeweg, there was an interesting and new looking walking and cycling underpass, passing under the road, with ramps either side. I took a couple of photos, but with hindsight, I should have stopped for a closer look.
According to Google Maps, this is a relatively new development, as previously there was an at-grade signalled crossing here. Replacing the crossing with an underpass, massively improves safety, while improving traffic flow, so everyone wins. As there’s housing both sides of Zeeweg, plus a school and sports facilities. I suspect it was quite a busy junction previously.
Carrying on along Zeeweg, the new looking path continued with some interesting planting and bus stop bypasses, with cycle parking. There was a large playground just next to the cycle path, with access to the playground no doubt made easier by the fantastic cycling infrastructure, which is great for families.
Approaching Katwijk, the protected cycle path turned into unprotected lanes. I know this is quite common in Dutch towns, where motor traffic numbers and speeds are supposed to be low, but I’m not a big fan. Probably because of our experiences riding along roads like this with kids and cars passing too closely.
I soon arrived in Katwijk town centre, which was largely traffic-free and quite pleasant. I parked the bike up and went off in search for lunch. Around the town, there were lots of bikes parked up and people walking about, enjoying the day. The shops were bustling and clearly not suffering from lack of access by car!
I picked up some lunch from a bakery and cycled onto the seafront, which is somewhat let down by the amount of motor traffic and on-street parking. There’s also no protected cycle path on the northbound side either, which meant cycling in the door zone.
The seafront at Katwijk was significantly remodelled as part of a sea defence scheme not too long ago. Included in this scheme was an underground car park, with space for 663 cars. It’s a shame this scheme didn’t include protected cycle paths in both directions, plus the removal of on-street parking and maybe through traffic.
The route to Noordwijk
Carrying on from the Katwijk seafront, I headed north towards Noordwijk. Leaving the town, I passed over the canal that takes the Oude Rijn (Old Rhine) out to the sea. This is also the location of the long lost Roman fortress of Brittenburg, which is commemorated with an artwork.
Beyond the canal was a large parking area, with a lot of cycle parking and even more car parking. Just beyond there, I look a left onto the dune route, which consists of a wide undulating two-way cycle path and a separate walking path, which make their way across the dunes. At regular intervals, there’s little cycle parking spots, with walking paths down to the beach.
The dune route is very similar to the other dune routes to the south, near Duinrell and along the rest of the North Sea coast. Riding along is lots of fun, with the undulating path and really pleasant views. Today was really hot, so some of the hills felt a little bit like hard work, but it was all worth it.
While much of what’s talked about in terms of Dutch cycling infrastructure relates to what you see on the streets in towns and cities. Praise should also be given to The Netherlands for the amazing rural, traffic-free routes. These tend to have high quality asphalt or concrete surfaces and are very well maintained. This is in stark contrast to the UK, where loose stone surfaces are often used, and usually poorly maintained.
Getting to the end of the dune route, I arrived at the start of the seafront in Noorwijk, passing lots of parked cars and seafront properties. After a short walk through the pedestrianised town centre, I looped back round to the seafront, near the lighthouse.
At this end of the town, the seafront feels very different to Katwijk. As I mentioned earlier, it feels much more like a resort, with big hotels and casinos. At this point, I parked up and headed onto the beach to eat my lunch. I enjoyed this, apart from having to guard my lunch from the rather aggressive seagulls!
Back to Duinrell
After an enjoyable lunch at the beach, I set off back to Duinrell. Though this time, I went inland and through the outskirts of Katwijk. Initially, this involved cycling along Beeklaan, passing suburban housing on paved and asphalt protected cycle paths. Along the way, I passed a petrol station with a cycle path running through it, which was rather good.
Turning onto Herenweg, the cycle path changes to a concrete surface. From what I can tell from Google Maps, this was laid between 2021 and 2022, so it’s pretty new. Something of a surprise for concrete, the path was incredibly smooth and pleasant to ride on. It also had a coloured section across a road, where red pigment was added.
Concrete is increasingly being chosen to surface cycle paths. Concrete paths are highly durable, require no maintenance and have a lower impact on the environment, compared to other options. In the past, they tended to be quite rough and unpleasant to ride on, but things have changed now.
I carried on along Herenweg, until it crossed over the N206 on a bridge. I then took the path parallel to the N206. This was another good quality two-way cycle path, with either an asphalt or paved surface and featured a can catcher on the way.
The route then passed over the canal into Katwijk. There’s a lifting bridge over the canal, for both cycles and motor traffic. Only in the Netherlands, does the motorway stop to let boats through!
Once over the canal, the cycle path diverged from the N206 onto some quiet residential streets. This was quite pleasant and included passing over the Zandsloot river, which looked very picturesque, with flowers on the bridge.
I was soon back along the route I came out on, along the N441 Wassenaarseweg/Katwijkseweg and back at Duinrell, after a very enjoyable ride.