Bart Kessels
Bart Kessels
Passionate open source software engineer who loves to go backpacking

Backpacking Pieterpad - Venlo to Swolgen

Backpacking Pieterpad - Venlo to Swolgen
This image is taken in Venlo near the Maas looking at Blerick.

During our summer vacation we were supposed to go to Sweden, but as you might have read in a previous blogpost that didn’t go quite as planned.

Starting the second week of our three-week holiday, we started backpacking the Pieterpad. Because we live in Venlo we decided to start hiking from Venlo and just keep walking up north until our two weeks were over.

The leg

When we walk the Pieterpad we split the 25 kilometer legs up into 10 kilometer legs because we like to walk 10 kilometers per day. This means that each leg, including this one, will take us two days to complete. The reason we only hike for 10 kilometers a day is because we want to truly enjoy nature and being on the trail. For us, time or distance isn’t an issue, we just want to appreciate the nature and really enjoy the beauty of it.

Our first leg started at our home in Venlo, so the leg that was laid out by the Pieterpad Foundation does not really match our leg. But that’s no problem because we already know what Venlo looks like, so starting from the train station has no real added value for us.

The leg we've created for walking from Venlo to Swolgen

This image is captured from Komoot where we’ve laid out our own leg

In this leg there is a small detour around Lottum because that was the first camping we would spend the night at.

Walking from Venlo to Lottum

When we started walking from home to the trail, we came through a part of town where I have lived for a little over two years. Yet, I still saw something I’ve never seen before. There was a lot of nature and some broken-down green houses where the forrest had reclaimed everything inside. There was even a small chapel with a dinning-location where we’ve lunched a couple of weeks after this vacation.

And to me that’s something I’ll never forget, we take the country we live in for granted and always want to go abroad to see something amazing. Yet, these amazing views are right around the corner if you take the time to wonder around.

After a few kilometers walking in meadows next to the Maas, we arrived at a small ferry where we had to cross the Maas to go from Velden to Grubbenvorst. And this is where the first things started going wrong. Before we set off, I bought some canned vegetables, so we wouldn’t have to eat dried meals for the first couple of nights. However, I didn’t look at the weight of those cans, and it turned out that one can of kidney beans is almost half a kilo (around 2.2 pound). And this was really weighing my girlfriend down because she started having problems with her foot. When we entered Grubbenvorst we sat down to grab some lunch at a local cafe that is on the trail. At that point my girlfriend looked at het foot and noticed she already had a blister on her heel. Luckily, there was a local drugstore where we bought some blister plasters, and we continued the hike. Just for the record, this was just 5 kilometers into the trail, and that day we had to walk 16 kilometers to get to the first campsite.

This camping consists of a few acres of land with a small building for relaxing, going to the bathroom or to take a shower. It was just a little cosy camping were again we met some amazing people. We even learned a ‘new’ sport called jeu de boules. We played it against some other people who were camping there for a couple of nights. After a few sets of losing to the other people we took a beer and went to bed.

The next morning we packed up our tent and started hiking towards the town to pick up some food from the grocery market.

Walking from Lottum to Swolgen

When we same some food in our stomachs we started heading towards the trail again to start the route to Swolgen. Because we walked 16 kilometers the previous day, this day was going to be a short one. But that was fine by us, ‘cause that way we could sit down at cafe’s and just enjoy the sun.

After a few kilometers we arrived in Swolgen at the endpoint of our route, and it turned out that we had forgotten one pretty important thing. To check if there is a camping near. Well, as it turned out, there was not. Luckily, we arrived around noon in Swolgen, so we sat down at a local ice cream bar and got ourselves something to eat and a perfect sundae. At the bar we started looking around on Google Maps to find camping’s nearby, and the nearest was in Meerlo (a town over from where we were, but on the route).

When we arrived in Meerlo we went straight to the local bar, because my aunt goes there quite a lot, and it’s owned by an aunt of my girlfriend. That’s when we heard that the camping we were planning to stay the night has gotten rid of their ‘trekkersveldje’ (a Dutch word for a place were people can stay a night with their own tent and no other facilities). Luckily, my girlfriend’s aunt was nice enough to offer us a camp spot in their backyard for the night. And from there it was all just fantastic, we had a couple of beers and some local food that was cooked just fine. We called up my aunt to join as well, and the entire evening was just pleasant. And these are the evenings that you don’t plan that just turn out to be one of the best memories you’ll have.


Related articles

Backpacking Pieterpad

The Pieterpad is one the most well known long distance trails of the Netherlands. It spans the entire lengt...

Backpacking Pieterpad - Sittard to Roermond

We've walked the first leg of the Pieterpad in April, in the Netherlands around this time of the year there...

Backpacking Pieterpad - Swolgen to Vierlingsbeek

The second leg of our Pieterpad vacation will take us to another province. All the way from Swolgen to Vier...