Marathon walk from Oostzaan to Woerden

A couple of weeks ago I set out to do another marathon walk. I had spotted a nice-looking stretch of countryside on the map one day, and thought it would make a nice long walk. The Amsteldijk extends from the heart of Amsterdam along the Amstel river, and winds through the countryside sandwiched between Amstelveen to the west, and Amsterdam Zuidoost to the east.

From Oostzaan to Uithoorn would be in the 25-30km range. But it had been two years since my last marathon walk (Oostzaan to Maarssen), and I wanted to push myself. I found myself a Saturday with a nice weather forecast, and walked all the way to Woerden. When I plotted the route beforehand I thought it came in at around 45km. But I think I deviated from the plan a bit, and when I checked the tracking data on my phone and correlated with Google Maps, it was more like 51km. (The figure on the picture below includes the 2.5km ferry from NDSM to Centraal.)

Walking route from Oostzaan to Woerden. (The 53.7km distance includes a 2.5km ferry.)

That’s the second-longest single-day walk I’ve ever done. It was also the first long walk with my new walking shoes, which are actually running shoes. (Asics Patriot 8) Back in August I did a 20km-ish walk to Muiden in the hiking shoes I have been using for the last couple of years. As has been far too common with these shoes, I ended up with lots of blisters. I also thoroughly bruised my big toe. For far too long I’ve been using rugged all-terrain hiking boots and shoes when most of what I do is urban walking over smooth paved surfaces. I don’t need rigid soles and toe protection against falling rocks. I need a soft breathable upper and good shock absorption.

Asics Patriot 8

So: running shoes. When I first tried them, they felt quite strange. I can stretch my toes sideways and the shoe stretches with them! If there’s a breeze, I can feel the wind reach in and actually cool the top of my feet! I had broken them in with a couple of weeks of daily use, but this was their first serious outing. They worked great! When I stopped for a break in Uithoorn and took off the shoes to air my toes out, my feet were still fine. I did develop blisters right towards the end of the walk. I can’t blame the shoes for that, though. The stretch of road from Uithoorn along Kromme Mijdrecht via De Hoef to Woerdense Verlaat is a windy single-track road for cars. There isn’t a separate bike or walking path, so I had to step off the road onto the uneven verge quite a bit. Along with increasing tiredness, I think this messed with my gait. When I start to walk unevenly, I get blisters. The last 5-6km stretch from Zegveld to Woerden Station was a bit painful, but I made it anyway.

I took pictures along the way, and dropped them into the non-social network account I sometimes use for this. Here are some good ones!

I love getting out just at sunrise
On the NDSM ferry, looking south to new construction
Amsterdam, obvs
The rowing coaches cycle along the dyke, keeping pace with the rowers, and shouting instructions at them through megaphones
See what I have to put up with?
Startled I made it this far. Still sucking at selfies.

Aberdeen walk, Sunday 2 December 2016

When I met up with Dave last Saturday evening, we spent some time thinking about the last time we had met up. We weren’t able to put a date or even a year on it, but we reckoned it must have been 2006 or 2007. I had been up in Aberdeen with Alex, probably visiting Grandma McLean, and Dave came to meet us at the Inversnecky Cafe on the Esplanade. Remembering the Inversnecky planed an idea in my head. Instead of having a lazy morning with maybe a bit of shopping the following morning, I got up in reasonable time and went out for a walk instead.

My first stop was a beautiful piece of graffiti I had spotted from my hotel window. It covers the maintenance door of the multi-storey car park on Denburn Road.

Good graffiti
Less good graffiti

I didn’t go down into the harbour, but walked along the A956 and up Beach Boulevard to the Esplanade, where I had a lovely full Scottish breakfast at the Inversnecky and read my book. I noticed the joke on the chalkboard outside (“I bought my wife a new fridge for Christmas. I can’t wait to see her face light up when she opens it”), but I hadn’t realized that the cafĂ© has become a social media phenomenon as a result.

Don’t mess with the tide.

I walked along the Esplanade for a bit, then cut down past Pittodrie and along Golf Road to the flat where my grandparents Sutherland used to live.

Tunnel near Pittodrie
The beach erosion defenses look like colossal whale tails

Along School Road, and back to Union Street via King Street. Not a super long walk, but enough to give me a blast of Aberdeen memories. There is something about the granite buildings with their occasional towers and crenellations that make the old town feel slightly out of time. The granite is so solid and constant that old and new buildings look like they are of the same age. This might be what a city would look like if a middle-age fortress mentality had persisted into the twentieth century.

The perenially uneven white-on-black Aberdeen street name signs charm me
Aberdeen Central Fire Brigade Station. Now student housing.

Walk from Oostzaan to Maarssen

On Sunday 26th April I did another marathon walk, this time from Oostzaan to Maarssen. I set out from our house at about 06:20, and finished at Maarssen Station at about 14:50. The walk tracking app I use on my phone said I’d done about 43.5km. I had taken a few short breaks to rest along the way, and had also been stopping occasionally to take some photos. Even so, that works out at an average of about 5.1 km/h, which I’m happy with for a long distance like that.

My soundtrack for the walk was a selection of my favourite songs from RWBY volumes 1 and 2 (high tempo, to get me moving), followed by the dozen most recent episodes of the 99% Invisible podcast, which has totally become my new favourite thing. That wasn’t quite enought to get me all of the way, so I finished with a couple of episodes of Answer Me This. (Roman Mars was plugging Helen Zaltzman’s new podcast The Allusionist during the promotional segments of 99% Invisible, and I think I’ll have to dive into that soon.)

Some photos from along the way:

Under the Nesciobrug on the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal
So much canal

Seriously, most of the walk was along the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal, and it was straight on for mile after mile. Good for keeping your head down and making the distance, not so great for variety of scenery. Many of the tall trees didn’t have their leaves yet, and it looked almost autumnal. Still, it was peaceful, and a nice long stretch.

My feet got sore during the last 5-10km, and I started to shift my balance around, which led to blisters. I think I can do 20-25km walks easily with no effects the next day, but a 40km walk is over a certain limit. Maybe if I’d taken a longer break around lunchtime and re-tied my shoes, or had a change of socks, it would have been easier at the end. I’ll experiment next time.

Amsterdam walk

Abi and I took another long walk today. We set off from Oostzaan in glorious hot sunshine around 08:30 and headed South. Took the ferry across the IJ to Tasmanstraat, and continued to the Vondelpark, where we stopped for a snack at the Vondeltuin. Then onwards to the Amsterdamse Bos where I pondered the mild ridiculousness of having lived within walking distance of Amsterdam for seven years now, and never having set foot there before. It’s really nice. It was like visting Golden Gate Park last year for the first time, after having been a regular visitor to the Bay Area since 1991.

leaning trees of lomanstraat
The Leaning Trees of Lomanstraat
birth of change by Server Verheugen
YAY PUBLIC ART (Birth of Change by Serge Verheugen, just near one of the main entraces to the Bos)
family ties by serve verheugen
Family Ties, also by Serge Verheugen, just a little bit farther into the Bos. AKA the “Mo’ Creatures Mod

The walk came to 22.6km, according to my GPS tracking app. A nice distance.

Walk to Velsen Zuid

On Saturday Abi and I took a long walk from Oostzaan to Velsen Zuid. Our original plan had been to walk a bit farther to IJmuiden and then take the green “Fast Flying Ferry” hydrofoil back to Amsterdam, but unfortunately the service has stopped. It was shut down on 1st January because of low passenger numbers. Alex and Fiona went on it once a few years ago, but I never got the chance – pity.

We left the house around 08:30, and had amazing walking weather. Blue skies, temperature rising through the mid teens, and a very light haze that burned off later in the morning. Our route took us over the Den Uylbrug, along the north shore of the Noordzeekanaal, and through Overtoom and Nauerna. We took the Spaarndam-Buitenhuizen ferry across the Noordzeekanaal, and then walked through Spaarnwoude to the edge of Velsen Zuid, where we caught the 82 bus into Amsterdam.

I’ve played golf at Spaarnwoude, but this was the first time I’d explored more of the recreation area on foot, and it’s lovely. Towards the end of the walk, we took a detour from the direct path to visit an outlook point (on a hill — a hill!) and a signposted art object. This turned out to be the enormous piece “Klimwand en Schijf in Grofpuinheuvel” (Climbing Wall and Disc in a Mound of Rubble) by Dutch sculptor Frans De Wit.

It does exactly what it says on the tin: a free-standing public climbing wall (no entrance fee; just bring your own gear) in line with two massive concrete discs embedded in a man-made hill of rocks. There’s a narrow staircase betwene the discs, and when you climb it you can see that the climbing wall is exactly in line with the discs. It’s super impressive.

Between the Den Uylbrug and the Noordzeekanaal
Ships unloading in the Westhaven
Klimwand en Schijf in Grofpuinheuvel by Frans de Wit
Climbing wall
The stairs leading up between the two discs