Sightseeing flight over South Holland
It was a while back that Charlotte had flown with us. Friday 8 November 2019 was perfect weather, and we all had time or could make time in the afternoon to do some flying. We decided to make a tour over South Holland.
When we arrived at the airfield, Charlotte and Maurits first went to the snack bar opposite the entrance of the airfield. In the meantime René checked the plane. Everything appeared to be in order, and there was sufficient fuel already.
We boarded the plane, and then taxied to runway 18. While we were doing our run-up checks, the airplane in front of us departed off-runway and headed about 30 degrees to the right from the runway direction. When we were ready, we lined-up runway 18 and took off. We left the traffic pattern in the direction of the Loosdrechtse Plassen.
Maurits and Charlotte at Hilversum airfield
Hilversum airfield after take-off runway 18
We continued to the west, crossing the River Vecht and passing Breukelen with its Castle Nyenrode. After crossing the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal and the highway Utrecht-Amsterdam, we entered the familiar Dutch landscape of drained peat meadows. During the Middle Ages, people started to exploit and drain large areas of peatland for agricultural purposes and, later on, for fuel and salt extraction. It very much formed the landscape as it is today.
West of Utrecht we past the Kockengen and Kamerik meadows, and then along the Nieuwkoopse Plassen further to the west.
We past the Woudwetering canal, which is part of the shipping route from the Oude Rijn (Old Rhine) to the Haarlemmermeerpolder. In the past this route was important as a waterway along which kerosene was shipped to Schiphol airport. Pipelines have now taken over that role.
Then we past the small vilage of Hoogmade. We had a view of the church that had been on fire on Monday of that week.
CHURCH BURNS DOWN IN ZUID-HOLLAND VILLAGE
The Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Geboorte church in Hoogmade, near Leiden was severely damaged in a fire on Monday. The spire collapsed and there are concerns about the stability of the rest of the tower and church. The fire department will soon investigate whether the building has to be demolished. Local residents are devastated.
The fire broke out at around 12:30 p.m. Work was being done in the Roman Catholic Church. The fire started while paint was being burned, according to the broadcaster. The spire collapsed at around 3:30 p.m. No other buildings were affected by the collapse.
The church is not a monument, and no special church treasures were kept there, although the church did contain a number of golden crosses, statutes and an organ.
After overflying Hoogmade we continued to Leiden. We flew around Leiden south of the city, and then continued to the coast at Katwijk, passing the former airbase Valkenburg on the way.
Katwijk aan zee
The river Oude Rijn (Old Rhine) flows from Utrecht to the North Sea at Katwijk. In Roman times, the Oude Rijn was the main Rhine branch, forming the northern border of the Roman Empire. In medieval times, it was used for river transport and there is a towpath along large sections of the river, many parts of which have been upgraded to roads over time. The river silted up in the course of the Middle Ages and had lost all of its importance by the 17th century.
Leiden is renowned for being Rembrandt's birthplace, the home of the Netherlands' oldest and most prestigious university, and the place in which the Pilgrims raised money to lease the leaky Speedwell, which took them on the first leg of their journey to the New World in 1620.
Leiden was formed on an artificial hill along the Oude Rijn. The city flourished in the 16th and 17th century. In 1572, the city sided with the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule and played an important role in the Eighty Years' War. Besieged from May until October 1574 by the Spanish, Leiden was relieved by the cutting of the dikes, thus enabling ships to carry provisions to the inhabitants of the flooded town. As a reward for the heroic defence of the previous year, the University of Leiden was founded by William I of Orange in 1575. Yearly on 3 October, the end of the siege is still celebrated in Leiden.
In Roman times, Katwijk was a place of strategic importance. It was located at the Roman Empire's northern border, at the mouth of the Rhine river. In 860 the river mouth became clogged and with that the development stagnated. Katwijk did grow in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The first mention of "Katwijk" dates from 1231. A dirt road connected Katwijk aan den Rijn with Katwijk aan Zee.
After Katwijk aan Zee, we followed the North Sea coast to the south. On our left we had the Meijendel - Berkheide Dunes, an important coastal area.
The Meijendel - Berkheide Dunes, which stretches from The Hague to Katwijk, form an important coastal area. Besides recreation, the dunes are also important to the conservation of wildlife, the collection of drinking water and coastal defence.
Some 7,000 years ago sand deposits and sand barriers were formed along the coastline, upon which the older dunes developed. The remains of the old dunes can still be found in two woodland areas - De Horsten and the Haagse Bos (right in the heart of the city of The Hague). About 2,000 years ago, the formation of the old dunes began to decline as a result of climate change in these regions.
The climate shift that took place around 1000 AD contributed to the development of younger dunes, which were partly formed on the older ones. The process of formation of the younger dunes continued until about the 12th century. The climate gradually became milder, allowing for vegetation to develop. The dunes around The Hague are now home to hundreds of different plants.
Throughout the centuries the dune landscape has always been 'on the move' in the most literal sense of the word. Eroded by the wind, and with plant and animal life changing over time, the dunes are constantly changing. Mankind has always tried to control these changes, and by doing so has left its mark on the dune landscape. Marram grass and trees were planted. Paths were made and patches of land were developed.
It was not until recently that the decision was made to let nature run its course -- in some areas at least -- in an attempt to create an opportunity for the original dune landscape to be restored as much as possible.
Just north of Scheveningen is a prohibited area over the dunes (EHP26A). In that area there is a central branch of the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA). The NCIA website says it acquires, deploys and defends communications systems for NATO's political decision-makers and Commands.
At Scheveningen we had a good view of the Pier of Scheveningen and the 19th century Kurhaus. Until the mid 1960s, the Kurhaus remained a public attraction as a major concert hall, at which many top artists performed. The last performance in the Kurhauszaal was by the Rolling Stones on 8 August 1964. The concert descended into chaos after a riot erupted 28 minutes into the set, and security staff brought the show to an abrupt halt.
We continued along the coast, moving a bit inland after Scheveningen with a view of The Hague on our left hand side. The Hague lies in a prohibited area, thus it was not possible to make close-by pictures of the historic center in front of the high-rise buildings.
The Pier in Scheveningen extending 400 meters into the sea with its islands was built around 1900 as a wooden promenade above the sea. It burned down in 1943, but in 1961 the Pier was rebuilt north of the old Pier out of cement and officially reopened. After periods of deday, the Pier was fully renovated and reopened in 2015. The Pier offers a range of shops, bars and restaurants.
Scheveningen is a seaside resort and fishing harbour, and is part of The Hague. Scheveningen's wide sandy beaches have made it the most popular of the Dutch coastal resorts since the first bathing establishment opened there in 1818. Its harbours, recently enlarged with the addition of a freight and container terminal, shelter much of the Dutch herring fleet, and its industries include fish-freezing plants and canneries. Notable landmarks are the domed Kurhaus, or Casino (1887), and the Fish Auction Hall, the leading one in Europe.
Ridderzaal, The Hague
Old Scheveningen Pier
The Hague is the capital of the province of South Holland, and is also the seat of government of the Netherlands. The Hague was founded by the last counts of the House of Holland. The Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) is the main building of the 13th century inner square of the former castle of the counts of Holland. The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) was built in 1656 and is one of the oldest monuments in the city centre of The Hague. It represents the pinnacle of Protestant religious architecture in Holland. The 17th century Mauritshuis, which originally served as a residence and hotel for high-placed guests, houses the Royal Cabinet of Paintings, mostly Dutch Golden Age paintings.
At the south-western side of The Hague we past Kijkduin, the second seaside resort of the city of The Hague. In the late 19th century, the seaside resort Kijkduin arose at the narrowest spot in the dunes. During and shortly after the Second World War half of the buildings in Kijkduin were demolished as a result of the Atlantik Wall, the defensive line built by the German occupation force. There are still 56 homes left, these fall under the protected cityscape Kijkduin - Meer and Bosch.
South of The Hague we crossed the Westland region. Westland is well known for its horticulture in glasshouses, hence its nickname the glass city. The Netherlands has a strong export position in greenhouse vegetable products. For the three major crops produced in Dutch greenhouse horticulture tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers the Netherlands has the highest export value worldwide. Approximately 80% of the greenhouse vegetables produced in the Netherlands are exported.
South of the Westland region we approached the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway), the ship canal that was opened in 1872 to keep the city and port of Rotterdam accessible to seafaring vessels as the natural Meuse-Rhine branches silted up. At the entrance to the sea, a flood protection system called Maeslantkering has been installed (completed in 1997).
After an orbit over the Maeslantkering, we contacted Rotterdam Tower for crossing the CTR via Delft to Zoetermeer. At Delft, we made an orbit around the old city.
The Delta Works is a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, levees, and storm surge barriers. The aim of the dams, sluices, and storm surge barriers was to shorten the Dutch coastline, thus reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised. After the North Sea flood of 1953, a Delta Works Commission was installed to research the causes and develop measures to prevent such disasters in future. They revised some of the old plans and came up with the "Deltaplan". The first construction that was completed was the Hollandsche IJsselkering in 1958. The original Deltaplan was completed in 1997 with the Maeslantkering and the Hartelkering.
See here for excerpts from earlier trip reports about the Delta Works.
Delft has been officially a city since 1246 when the Dutch Earl William II granted it a city franchise. The new city began to grow and by 1355 grew to the size it would maintain until the 19th century.
Delft has long been associated with the House of Orange, and during the Eighty Years' War, the city served as a headquarters for the Dutch resistance. When William of Orange was shot dead by Balthazar Gerards, in 1584, the family chose to bury him in Delft due to the fact that the Spanish occupied their traditional burial place. Due to this burial, the House of Orange began a new tradition and Delft has become the official burial place for the family.
In May of 1536 there was a great fire that broke out in the city. It is assumed that the fire was the result of a lightning strike. In October of 1654 a gunpowder store in an old convent exploded. While the cause has never been explained, somehow the power ignited and in the explosion, nearly 200 houses were destroyed.
Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) is one of the most celebrated Dutch 17th century masters. Vermeer lived and worked in Delft all his live. Delft is also well known for their pottery. The Delft Blue Pottery Company, known as Delftware, is very well known for the fine pieces they create.
The Nieuwe Kerk is a Protestant church which was built in 1496. The church is known for being the royal burial chamber. Prince William the Silent was the first to be buried here. It is possible to climb the 109 m tower to get an impressive view of Delft and surroundings. It is the second highest church tower in The Netherlands, after the Domtoren church of Utrecht.
The Oude Kerk is Delft's oldest church and was built in 1246. Founded as St. Bartholomew's Church, the Old Church is one of the Netherlands' most beautiful churches. It is the final resting place of a lot of famous Dutchmen like Piet Hein, Maerten Tromp and Johannes Vermeer. The massive bell in the tower (cast in 1570) weighs nearly nine tonnes, and is only rung during disasters or during the burial of a member of the royal family.
The City Hall in Delft is a Renaissance style building on the Markt across from the Nieuwe Kerk. Although the City Hall has changed over the years, it was finally restored to its former glory at the end of the 19th century. The Markt is one of the largest historic market squares in Europe. The rectangular Markt was first paved in the late 15th century.
After Delft we continued to the north-east in the direction of Zoetermeer. The airbase Ypenburg (map) that was there when René started to fly in Rotterdam does not exist anymore, and has been developed into a housing area since then.
North-west of Zoetermeer we past the indoor ski-resort Snow-World. After leaving the Rotterdam CTR we continued to the east to Boskoop, and from there to Zwammerdam.
Nootdorp, Former airbase Ypenburg
Snow World Zoetermeer
At Zwammerdam we rounded the small town and then followed to the Oude Rijn to the east, to the Wierickerschans.
The Wierickerschans Fort is a part of the Old Dutch Waterline. The Fort was built on the site where in 1672 Stadtholder Willem III had his headquarters during the war against the French. Before the French army had moved over the frozen water of the defense system to Zwammerdam and Bodegraven, and Willem III was just one day late to attack the French at Nieuwerbrug. In order to prevent a repeat of this failure and to close the gap in the defense line the Wierickerschans Fort was constructed.
In 1672 the Dutch Republic was simultaneously attacked by England, France, Münster and Cologne. Louis XIV's army bypassed the Dutch southern defence and invaded the Dutch from the east. The cities of Utrecht and Woerden were occupied, but to the West the French encountered the Old Dutch Waterline. The water stretched from Muiden on the Zuiderzee down to the Biesbosch. On higher ground reinforcements were situated.
Shortly after Christmas the French army moved over the frozen water of the defense system to Zwammerdam and Bodegraven. Both towns were plundered and set alight. After the ice melted however, the invaders were surrounded on all sides. The three redoubts at Nieuwerbrug had been abandoned, allowing a return to Woerden without risk.
Movements of the French troops, December 1672
Stadtholder Willem III, returning from an unsuccessful attack on the French supply routes in Belgium was just one day late to attack the fleeing French division at Nieuwerbrug. He narrowly missed the opportunity of a major victory. In order to prevent a repeat of this failure and to close the gap in the defense line, he commanded the construction of a strong well manned and supplied Fort in January 1673. In August of the year the Wierickerschans Fort was completed.
Despite the initial shock and successful invasion of the eastern Dutch Republic, the English, French and German forces were eventually driven back.
Louis IVX invading Dutch republic (1)
Retreating French forces (2)
2) Forced back French forces set fire to Zwammerdam and Bodegraven
After Wierickerschans we turned south between the Enkele Wiericke and Dubbele Wiericke canals. Both of these canals were constructed in the 15th century and later became part of the Old Dutch Waterline. This point was the weakest link in the line, because this was where the French troops made the crossing in 1672.
Then we flew around the Reeuwijkse Plassen (Reeuwijk Ponds) to Gouda. The Reeuwijk area prospered in the 18th century when layers of peat were dug up, dried, and used as fuel for industries in Gouda. Eventually these peat quarries struck a fresh-water spring, forming the Reeuwijkse Plassen.
The city of Gouda has the cheese of the same name to thank for its worldwide reputation. Impressive for both its size and its magnificent stained-glass windows, Sint Janskerk stands proudly over the old city of Gouda. In the middle of the Markt is the mid-15th-century town hall. Constructed from sandstone, this regal Gothic structure is a testament to the wealth Gouda enjoyed from the cloth trade when it was built.
Meadows, excavated peatlands
The area between the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht is called Het Groene Hart (the Green Heart). It is an area full of meadows surrounded by water.
Through the ages, a thick wet layer of peat in this area arose. Due to the limited ground bearing capacity the majority of this peatland was not suitable for developments like industry and related infrastructure, but in return the area was good for agriculture and especially for the extraction of peat. Around 1600/1700, the cities to the Green Heart arose. Later on, the intermediate region was part of the strong defensive work of the so-called "Dutch Water Line".
Nowadays the Green Heart is seen as the ultimate recreational area of the Randstad. With the urban pressure from the surrounding cities onto the Green Heart it is the policy of the government to preserve the area for the future. This way future generations can enjoy this beautiful part of the Netherlands as well.
The village Kamerik, part of the city of Woerden, is located in the Green Heart and arose around the 10th century. The bishop of Utrecht initiated around that time the first peat mining in Kamerik. The water channel crossing Kamerik from North to South was one of the first transport and drain channels in the area to enable the peat mining activities.
From Gouda we flew north of the Hollandsche IJssel to Rotterdam, on the way passing the towns Moordrecht, Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, Capelle aan den IJssel and Krimpen aan de IJssel. The Hollandse IJssel is a waterway between Nieuwegein near Utrecht and Rotterdam and ends in the Nieuwe Maas.
In the event of a flood, the river can hardly get rid of its water because the rising seawater stops the river water. In 1953 the dikes just about managed to withstand the force of the water. A solution had to be found because the Hollandse IJssel flows through the lowest lying area in one of the most populated areas of the Netherlands. The Hollandsche IJsselkering (Hollandsche IJssel Storm Surge Barrier) near Krimpen aan de IJssel was the first storm surge barrier to be completed (1958) as part of the Delta Plan.
Krimpen aan de IJssel
Shortly after passing the Hollandsche IJsselkering we passed the Van Brienenoord Bridge that crosses the Nieuwe Maas (New Meuse) on the east side of Rotterdam. The Van Brienenoord Bridge is one of three bridges crossing the Nieuwe Maas in Rotterdam. The Van Brienenoord Bridge is part of the busiest highway in the Netherlands, the A16.
Over Rotterdam we had a good view on the other two bridges crossing the Nieuwe Maas. The Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge) is a combined cable-stayed and bascule bridge, named after Desiderius Erasmus, a prominent Christian Renaissance humanist also known as Erasmus of Rotterdam. The Willemsbrug connects the Rotterdam city centre to Noordereiland. From Noordereiland, the Koninginnebrug (Queen's bridge) crosses the Koningshaven into the Feijenoord area on the south bank of the Nieuwe Maas.
We made an orbit over Feijenoord, where Charlotte (www.charlottehebels.nl) has a room to study at the Rotterdam Conservatory.
South of the Feijenoord area is the football stadium of Feyenoord Rotterdam, known as De Kuip. Feyenoord is one of three professional football clubs in Rotterdam, and the biggest. Feyenoord is the first Dutch football club that won the European Cup, and thus far the last one that won a European cub (the UEFA Cup).
At Ridderkerk, we turned to the east, where we passed Kinderdijk. A thousand years ago, this whole area was one big peat bog, trapped between raging rivers and the fury of the sea. As the first permanent settlers arrived, they built their homes on local sand dunes to keep their heads above water in case of floods. Over time to drain the polder, a system of 19 windmills was built around 1740. This group of mills is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands.
We then continued to Nieuwpoort, where we made an orbit over the town. The small fortified town of Nieuwpoort along the River Lek is completely surrounded by water. In the 17th century the fortified city became part of The Dutch Waterline. The inundation sluice to flood the surrounding fields was built under the city hall so it could be used even when the farmers were opposed.
Nieuwpoort was founded in the 2nd half of the 13th century under the reign of Count Floris V. In 1283, Nieuwpoort was granted city rights by Gijsbrecht van Langerak (liege lord of the Bishop of Utrecht) and Arnoud van Liesveld (liege lord of the Count of Holland). Because of its strategic location the city was attacked, plundered and devastated several times in the 15th and 16th centuries. Nieuwpoort was rebuilt again and again.
After the disastrous year of 1672, at the Prince of Orange's suggestion, it was decided to drastically improve both Nieuwpoort and the nearby fortified town of Schoonhoven, as part of the Dutch Water Line. The new fortress, with wide moats, high walls and six bastions, was completed in 1675. The medieval street plan and parts of the original canal system remained intact. The Town Hall of Nieuwpoort was built in 1697 in the middle of the town. The canal used for inundation was situated underneath the Town Hall to protect it from sabotage from the farmers.
The fortress lost its military value in 1816. However, since Nieuwpoort functioned as a place of refuge during floods, the fortified walls retained. As the result of a large-scale renovation project of the town in 1998, Nieuwpoort Fortress (with numerous large historically significant and distinctive buildings surrounded by the fortified walls) is now one of the best-preserved fortified towns in the Netherlands.
After Nieuwpoort we flew over the Polsbroeker meadows, and then over Utrecht back to Hilversum airfield, where we landed on runway 18.
Utrecht Central Station area
Charlotte and Maurits