North Sea Route France, Belgium, Netherlands

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by stokell, Jul 24, 2006.

  1. stokell

    stokell New Member

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    I've posted this before without too much result, but there seems to be more action on this forum currently.

    I'm planning the portion of the North Sea Route from Boulogne sur Mer to Den Helder (or perhaps vice-versa).

    I'm looking for unsupported tourers who have done this part of the route and can share some advice:

    • I'm going in late April/early May, Should I travel north/south of south/north?
    • Normally I stealth camp. Are there opportunities to camp overnight, out-of-sight, away from built-up areas, on un-marked, un-signed, un-improved land without fear of being asked to move on?
    • Is there any landmark, location or other attraction on the way that I should not miss?
     
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  2. Gotte

    Gotte New Member

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    Hey, I'd be interested in info too, My friend and I may well be travelling a very similar pertion of the route.

     
  3. geoffs

    geoffs New Member

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    I haven't done the north sea route where you are going. I landed at Calais and rode south from there.
    If you are travel through Scandinavia there is a law that allows you to camp wherever so long as you are a certain distance from a house. There is no such law in France, Belgium etc.
    Why stealth camp though? Every square inch of France that can be farmed is. I've camped out a few times when I've been caught out by time and or circumstances but I always found it much better to just ask a farmer if I may set my tent up in one of his fields.
    99.9% of farmers are friendly people especially if you can speak a few words of their language. I always carried my own supplies and never expected anything but every night I was in France I was either invited inside for dinner, a shower and or breakfast. Cyclists aren't seen as threatening people.
    Much better to ask permission and not surprise anyone than just impose yourself.

    Cheers

    Geoff
     
  4. blackbird05

    blackbird05 New Member

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    Hi sotkell, hope this reaches you in time before your trip. I've sone some sections of the route, and am most familiar with the Netherlands section. You're in for a treat:)
    I agree with geoffs on asking permission fromfarmers to camp on their land. Whenever I've done this, I've had nothing but good experiences and great memories. On the other hand, I've had one very bad experience with free-camping, so I prefer to talk to the landowners whenever I can.
    Do not, under ANY circumstances, miss the Texel Islands just off of of Den Helder. Give each island a day (there are five) to explore it. They're magical, and you'll have them all to yourself in April/May. My favourite is Vlieland Island. Don't miss it, trust me. You'll see pictures in the Netherlands section at http://europeinphotos.blogspot.com if you want.
    I don't know for sure what the prevailing winds are for the area, bu I do remember travelling south to north and having such a strong wind at my back along one stretch of beach that I put my feet up on my handlebars and COASTED at 20 kph for a good 20 minutes. No joke. Felt sorry for the poor guys traveling the other way...
    Cheers!
     
  5. blackbird05

    blackbird05 New Member

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    I just noticed that you're from Toronto. Welcome, neighbor:) As a Canadian, you may find it interesting to check out some of the war cemetaries and monuments in those three countries. Canadians played a big role in liberating Belguim and Netherlands at the conclusion of WW2. You'll find that people will react positively to the Cnadaian flag stickers you've sewed onto your panniers:) I didn't have a real appreciation for the significance of the war until I saw the cemetaries and museums for myself. Really brings the consequences of conflict home, especially in times like these.
     
  6. stokell

    stokell New Member

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    I always fly the flag when I travel. Without prejudice, I find some people mistake me for an American and they may change the way they interact with me.

    On another topic; I always appreciate people telling me to talk to farmers and they will allow me to camp on their land. I'm sure this is true and most farmers are most gracious hosts. Stealth camping is not about that. When I stop it is almost dark and I have neither the time or inclination to try to figure out who's land it may be. If it is not trespassing, I will just kip for the night and leave before anyone sees me.

    Thanks for everyone's help.
     
  7. Velotour

    Velotour New Member

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    I cycled some in that area. I remember approaching the beach. There was a terrific wind out of the north that sand blasted us good. It was so strong that we decided to head south through Belgium and Germany. It was summer. I had been in that area other times when there did not seem to be any perceptible wind at all.

    We managed to find places to stealth camp but that was back in 1987. That was too long ago to give advice on something like that for now.



     
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