Flat out to Holland on the straight and narrow

The cycling tracks make the Flevoland polders in Holland a delight. John Watkins stayed on a sheep farm-cum-campsite

Mini-camping P90 is on Stobbenweg, a straight, narrow road that runs through the forests of Oostelijk-Flevoland. P90 is really a sheep farm, but like farmers in many parts of Europe, the Radersmas have had to diversify, and a grassy glade behind the farmhouse has been turned into a small campsite. Mrs Radersma looks after the camping. She has white hair, and wears white socks and black clogs. She speaks a breathless English, and after she'd given us a tour of the farm and shown us the spotless toilet block, she presented us with a lettuce and two onions from her kitchen garden as a welcoming gift.

Mini-camping P90 is on Stobbenweg, a straight, narrow road that runs through the forests of Oostelijk-Flevoland. P90 is really a sheep farm, but like farmers in many parts of Europe, the Radersmas have had to diversify, and a grassy glade behind the farmhouse has been turned into a small campsite. Mrs Radersma looks after the camping. She has white hair, and wears white socks and black clogs. She speaks a breathless English, and after she'd given us a tour of the farm and shown us the spotless toilet block, she presented us with a lettuce and two onions from her kitchen garden as a welcoming gift.

Mrs Radersma jokes that her mini-camping is kamperen op de zeebodem, camping on the seabed. And it's true that less than 50 years ago, these fields were silt under a vast man-made lake called IJsselmeer. Oostelijk (Eastern) Flevoland emerged from the water in 1957; Zuidelijk (Western) Flevoland followed in 1968. The Radersmas' farm was built in 1964. P90 is the name of the original plot.

The Flevoland polders added a large slab to Holland's land mass, and provided much needed new land for housing and farming, but they had a devastating impact on traditional fishing towns such as Kampen, Elburg and Harderwijk. They suddenly became landlocked, their access to the North Sea blocked by the Afsluitdijk which turned the salty Zuiderzee into the freshwater IJsselmeer. The fishermen have had to adapt to freshwater species, in particular eels, paling, smoked varieties of which are a regional delicacy. I'm not a great lover of smoked eel.

To the outsider, Flevoland's rural landscapes have a mesmerising order and uniformity. Regular fields of cereals, beetroot, onions and sweetcorn are interspersed with forests and grazing for sheep and cows. Trucks ghost along the main roads and trees float on the horizon.

But it's the cycle tracks – fietspad, marked by pedal-high stone mushrooms – that really impress. Coming from a country where cyclists have to tough it out with cars and trucks, the tracks make cycling a sheer delight. They criss-cross the polder, running through forests and along the Veluwemeer, the wide freshwater channel that separates Flevoland from the older lands to the east. Because the fields are so flat, even the most unfit cyclist can clock up the kilometres without too much huffing and puffing – or needing a flashy bike. The standard Dutch machine has a black frame and wraparound handlebars. Everyone cycles: matrons in billowing cotton dresses, hirsute old men trailing smoke from generous joints, young lovers holding hands as they pedal.

In the country, cyclists get their own tracks. In the towns, there are cycle lanes, cycle traffic lights and cycle signs.

From P90, a range of Dutch towns, old and new, are within easy pedal range. Elburg is the closest and the prettiest – a 15th-century walled town, with a medieval fish gate and hop house. In the summer months, Elburg's narrow streets are packed with day trippers snacking on doughnuts and cones of patat met, chips with mayonnaise. Wednesday is market day when the whole town is given over to stalls – part traditional market, part car-boot sale, where enterprising children flog off old books and toys, and little girls with recorders busk for euros.

When we finally left, Mrs Radersma gave us a courgette as big as a marrow. That night, we cut it into chunks and barbecued it at a campsite near Amsterdam, under the Schiphol airport flight path. None of us are great fans of the courgette, but we all agreed it was very tasty.

Netherlands Board of Tourism, PO Box 523, London SW1E 6NT (020-7539 7950; www.holland.com/uk)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

    £7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones