Thursday, 24 April 2014

Across Two Lines of Fortifications

Last Saturday by some coincidence I biked all the way from Leiden to Houten, a distance of some 73 km. It was a pretty epic endeavour from my perspective as it has been some time since I spent 3 hours in the saddle and because I needed to be on time for another three and a half hours of frying fries and cleaning up afterwards. It left me pretty much broken at the end of the day.

Entrance to fort Wierickerschans along the Oude Rijn
between Bodegraven and Woerden

I also ran a flat tire, but luckily this was only 100 meters from my destination.

However, it took me through the two most heralded Dutch lines of fortifications: the Old and New Water Line. While the 17th century line runs from north to south (the IJsselmeer to the main rivers) to the west of Utrecht, the 19th century line runs to the east of the city.

The old line had it's day in the sun in 1672/3 when it stopped the best army and generals of its time. The later line was saved the embarrassment, although Dutch troops fell back in good order on the line during the night of May 13th and 14th 1940 after the breaching of the Grebbe Linie.

Fort Jutphaas in Nieuwegein now shelters a wine shop

Although in this case I didn't have enough time to make a relaxed visit, fort Jutphaas (and several others of the New Water Line) are within easy cycling distance of Houten, where my iron horse has now been parked. Once I get my tube fixed, I'll start exploring them.

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