A little West Highland Way in the Netherlands

A little West Highland Way in the Netherlands

A friend is someone

who helps you up

when you’re down

and if they can’t

they lay down beside you

and listen.

When I started this walk I couldn’t have known that somewhere over the ocean way back in Bonnie Scotland our Peaker sister Ellen made a tough decision. She was walking the West Highland Way, with her son and had to stop because of knee problems. That evening I posted our group photo telling everybody that this walk was almost like walking a part of the West Highland Way, totally unaware of her decision.  This one is for you, Ellen. Maybe this way we can help you up if you’re down….

The weather

For a few days the weather has been a little threatening with heavy rain showers and strong winds.

As I leave home for another walk of our challenge, the 10th to be specific, it’s raining. We’re almost halfway through our challenge. But we don’t let ourselves stop over a little bit of rain. We are Peakers after all. This is my tough Peaker voice speaking. You see, I don’t like walking in the rain. When I walk and it starts raining, okay. But if it’s raining before I even start, that’s not my cup of tea. Looking at every weather app I could find this morning,  I saw that my positive thought, it’s going to be better later on, was confirmed. I drove to Rheden, little place in the neighbourhood of Arnhem in the region of Gelderland. And the further I went, the better it got. It was dry when I arrived.

Our hosts for today

Our hosts for today are Nicoline McCarthy and Miranda Kooiman. Miranda lives in Arnhem and Nicoline lives in Elst. They both are Dutch Peakers, and when they came in contact with each other, it turned out that Nicoline is a member of the same triathlon club as Miranda’s husband. It is a small world after all. Nicoline lives with her family of 4 kids in Hummelo.She studied Social Geography and is a self-employed cartographer. Miranda lives in Arnhem with her husband and two sons. She does the administration for three Primary schools and recently started her own business as a virtual assistant. And what I like most about her she teaches nature lessons to toddlers once in a while.

Miranda and Nicole chose to walk in this area because it is a varied piece of nature, through the forest, over the moor, with beautiful viewpoints along the way.

Arnhem is probably the place you remember from history class. The Battle of Arnhem occurred during WWII. It was part of Operation Market Garden in September 1944. Unfortunately the operation failed, mostly because the allied forces couldn’t take over the brigde. The North and West part of the Netherlands could not be liberated, and that caused the hunger winter. Today there was no hunger for us because Miranda and Nicole were waiting in the parking lot with coffee, tea and delicious homemade pie with dates and coconut.

Posbank

The area is certainly beautiful and various. Right from the start it made me remember my walk last year in Scotland when I walked the West Highland way. The moorland we walk through is popularly known as the Posbank but its original name is Herikhuizerveld. The Posbank owes its name to Mr. G.A. Pos, former chairman of the ANWB (AAA). When this Mr. Pos worked for 25 years for the company they built him this semicircular stone bench, located at a beautiful viewpoint. At the site, you are standing 90 metres above NAP (sealevel). For me, coming from 6 metres under the sea that’s pretty high. Compared to climbing the Glen Coe, which I  did last month, it’s nothing. But nevertheless, the view is beautiful and amazing, especially for a country which is almost flat.

Ganesha

Those of you who follow the stories of the Dutch Peaker Walking, know our history with the elephant. It all started with walking the dykes of Flevoland last year. On one of the legs we had Ella walking with us and at the beginnng I told her the distance of the leg would be aproximately 18km. She had never walked any further than 10km. Somewhere along the way, I saw it would be far more km than I told her, and I was hesitating whether I should tell her or not. Eventually I did and that’s when Vanessa started this song about a little elephant. We sang it together to keep Ella walking when it became tougher. Ever since that walk, when somebody is so over it ,we start singing the song, and that is how the elephant became symbol of the Dutch Peakers Walking.

I was totally surprised when I received another elephant today from Pauline. This one is called Ganesha, a Hindu God who takes away all obstacles in life and protects all travellers.

We walkers,  are we not all in a way, travellers? Remember what I told you in Ain’t No Arthur High Enough about Robert Louis Stevenson? We travel not to go anywhere but to go…

Thank you so much for this little elephant Pauline, and may it keep us safe on all our walks in the future. I am not quite sure about the obstacles. I believe sometimes it is okay to bump into a little obstacle in life. I try to learn from it and hope that a next time I have learned enough to do it differently, think differently or react differently. But if this little guy keeps me safe from the big obstacles in life, I don’t mind.

Stowaways

Every now and then we have a stowaway joining us on our walks. Today Pauline’s daughter joins us.         

Jamie studies at the London School of Economics. She is earning a Master in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. I walk and talk for a little while with her, and I admire the way she is living. She is a young self-aware woman with a purpose in life. There is not much in life that I would do differently if I had the change to do it all over again, but there is one thing. I would definitely go abroad for a Master’s degree, explore the world, and meet other people in life. I can never make up for the time I didn’t, but I do admire our young people who do. They are becoming the global citizens of tomorrow.

Jamie told me she was leaving for Mumbai in India for two weeks, to do some research for the foundation her mother is working for, Khazana Foundation. The goal of this foundation is to provide basic financial skills to children who have no access to the banking system. They provide the Mumbai slum’s children with a saving account, teach them about longterm goals, provide education about the banking system and how money works. But that’s not all this young lady did. In undergraduate studies, she also minored in jazz and singing at the Royal Conservatoire in the Hague. Quite an impressive stowaway!

Thank you for being a friend

Every walk I meet so many new friends and hear so many interesting stories. I have not told you about Stefanie who works as an Environmental Expert for Boskalis. I promise to tell you more about her and the interesting work she’s doing next time she joins us for a walk. For now I lay myself down and think back on yet another wonderful day with my Dutch Peaker Walking group and listen to Thank You for Being a Friend by Andrew Gold.

Thanks to Linda van den Ham, Jolanda Schooneman en Stefanie Ross for making these beautiful pictures.


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