15km east of Rotterdam is Kinderdijk (children’s dike), world-famous for its nineteen iconic windmills. In 1997 the site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list, an obligation being all mills must be kept in their original state and with them dating back to the eighteenth century this really is a sight to behold. They play a huge part in the Netherlands history of innovative water control and it’s the only place in the world to find a complete history of water management at a single location. To ensure they don’t block the wind of the next, they were staggered and not built in line with each other, this inconsistency just adds to this gracious landscape. The banks are lined with various plants and wildlife, depending on the time of day and season you go, the colours and shadows change dramatically giving hours of opportunity for the budding and more professional photographer.
We drove here from Den Haag and took roughly 45-60 mins. It’s an easy drive via the A13. There isn’t much traffic once you get off the main roads and they’re easy to navigate. En route between Alblasserdam and Kinderdijk,we spotted a beautiful lake behind a small housing estate. It was such warm summers day we decided to put the windmills on hold, we grabbed our swimming stuff from the boot and made our way down the hill.
On entry to the park and lake is a man-made beach with sand and a small play area, the swimming area is roped off to warn children not to swim any further. there was also a funny little bridge you had to pull yourself across with a rope. We never find it tempting to sit close to screaming, excitable children so we walked on a bit further round bushy banks to see if we could find a quiet spot. We did, and it was stunning. From here you could just about hear the children in the background which naturally blended in with the sound of bird song and water swishing on the banks. The road was no longer visible nor could you hear any cars. All that could be seen were the quivering waters, trees and reeds and a few scattered lakeside houses blending into the distance. It was serenity at it’s best.
We had two hours of this bliss just the two of us, in and out of the lake swimming, taking photos and generally just chilling and taking it all in, until we got a couple of furry visitors! I am a big animal fan so when a gentleman came along and checked it was ok for his dogs to join me in the lake, I jumped at the chance and so did one of the dogs – literally! I wish there was a photo of the moment this great golden retriever jumped almost on top of me, my face was certainly a picture, so was Kristian’s when the dog came bounding out and shook the water all over him and the camera 🙂
We arrived at the windmills late in the day due to our lake detour, so we were unable to go into the windmill museum, but we spent a lovely 90 mins walking up and down, sitting by the banks and taking photographs. We will definitely go back here and explore some more and next time make it into that museum, rent a bike and follow the 60km route through this beautiful landscape. You can get a 10% discount if you book online.
Kinderdijk and Alblasserdam are pretty quiet, there aren’t rows of shops or restaurants or dozens of bars to sit and watch the world go by. We did however find a lovely and very reasonable hotel restaurant called Het Wapen. We ate here twice as we ended up visiting that lake three times in total! The food was delicious, service friendly and efficient and the price was reasonable. It also has 21 rooms if you want to stay in the area, although we didn’t stay here so I can’t comment on that side of things.
We would definitely visit this area again when passing through, although there are many other lakes and secret tranquil spots to explore in the rest of the Netherlands. One day it will be done!
Have you been to Kinderdijk and the surrounding area before, if so what did you think? Do you want to go there and have some questions? Comment below, share the love and like away or follow me on www.facebook.com/thehardytraveller and Twitter @hardytravellers – I appreciate every single one of you, thank you so much for reading!