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The fourth stage is tough but very green

08 August 2021 12:16

This fourth leg of the Walk for Homs pilgrimage starts with the ferry crossing from Schoonhoven to Gelkenes. I enjoy the wind in my face for a while, because this stage is a tough one. The walk goes through meadows, along rivers, ditches and mills. Climbing is also a must here. Not only about fences and bridges, but also about the cows and sheep, which all just stay there. Great, because cuddling with a cow or sheep was still on my wish list.

Bertha 1, 2 and 3

After the crossing I walk towards Nieuwpoort, in order to enjoy another fortified city. Then my way continues through the green Dutch landscape. During the planning of the second stage I was already able to get acquainted with climbing and clambering over fences, so I now defy this one full of enthusiasm and self-assurance. After the third climb it gets a bit more challenging as Bertha 1, 2 and 3 are sunbathing in the tall grass and take up the whole path. I decide to greet them loudly, but in vain nothing happens. I can't even see a small movement. So I step over Bertha 1. This did nothing to either Bertha 1 or 2, but Bertha 3 jumped up and there I was. In the tall grass, surrounded by three cows. I didn't want to go back, so there was only one thing to do. Step as relaxed as possible over Bertha 2 and keep my eyes at Bertha 3. That worked Bertha 2 and 3 didn't budge. Now I had to make another choice, because Bertha 3 was blocking the whole path. Through the ditch or hug Bertha 3, in other words give her a small push. The last seemed the most convenient to me, because I didn't want wet shoes. It turned out to work and Bertha 3 gave me some space to pass her. Which resulted in a beautiful photo with the nearby mill.

Follow my feelings

After I turned right at the mill and to cross the road, a bad feeling came over me. No idea what was going on, but the feeling persisted as I continued walking. The nice thing was that I was allowed to take a beautiful picture of a cow, who was studying me from his stable. And that I was greeted by two ducks. When I later ended up in the green again and crossed three fences, I decided to take a good look at whether this would be the right route for the pilgrimage. The answer is no. I looked at the map again and saw a much better and nicer alternative. With this alternative we only have to walk a few meters on a paved road.

Grass up to my hips

After a small stop in Ottoland I continued my way towards the meadows again. Once there I saw that the grass had made a nice growth spurt. It was barely visible, but there was a path running through it, so I decided to take on this challenge. After a few meters the grass was up to my hips and there was nothing left of this path, so I created my own route. After about a kilometer I saw a road to the left. For a moment I doubted whether I would go down this road. It only took me a moment to realize that it is now August and the grass probably won't be up to our hips in April. I decided to continue the 'road' and to plod through this beautiful green landscape. 

Green or asphalt

After this experience and soaked shoes I was given the choice of making my way through the greenery or a paved bike path towards Giessenburg. I chose the last to give my feet some rest. In addition, I only see beautiful greenery, cows, sheep and horses around me. Ahead of me was a man walking at a good pace. Once at Giessenburg I passed him, because he had met someone he knew. I heard the friend ask if he already had a new hiking challenge for next year. Of course I couldn't help but shout: 'Yes, Walk for Homs!' and started laughing. The ice was broken and we walked together through Giessenburg, where he lives. After leaving Giessenburg I walk again through the greenery towards Gorinchem. And there my eye falls on a plate.

Welcome hiker!

Come further and enjoy nature, peace and space. This sounds tempting but this is not part of the pilgrimage route. On the map of the hiking app Komoot and Google Maps this route is not indicated, so I don't know where it ends up. Because I don't see anyone around to ask for this, I decide to walk on. When I arrive at the railway and see the industrial area that I have to walk past, I immediately regret my decision. But someone is walking her dog, so maybe she can answer my question. And then she can! The route runs straight through the greenery and close to the point where I am now walking. I decide to walk on and map this route further later.

Sheep on dry land

After leaving the industrial area and crossing the railway, there is another gate in front of me. I climb over it and stand in the middle of the dike, which will lead me to Gorinchem. I walk right through a herds of sheep. They are all fine with me walking past them so close, only a few get up and lie down a meter further. However, the geese immediately run and fly in all directions as soon as they see me. I pass three more gates and then enter the beautiful fortified town of Gorinchem. I walk along the ramparts towards the Linge to admire the beautiful houses via this river and walk towards the harbor to end this stage.

It will be a beautiful route and I am looking forward to next year to walk the Walk for Homs pilgrimage together with all the other participants.