The gr5 days 1-3

The gr5. The day I start. The day of sand. The day it rains.

Day 1 

Distance: 34,8 km

Sleeping place: camping jachthaven de meeuw (recommend)

It’s 7 O’clock, I hear my dad packing up his tent. This is the day, the day I start hiking. Yesterday evening I was so excited, I couldn’t sit still and couldn’t wait to get started. Today I’m still excited but also want to savour this moment with my dad before he leaves for home.

The start of wasn’t such a big thing as I thought it would be. You see these pictures from the PCT and AT of these beautiful start and finish pictures with the icon pillars. With the GR5 there isn’t really such a thing. There is a pretty small pole on the hook of a corner, in Hoek van Holland, next to a house that points the way to three different routes. Including the GR5. Of course I took a picture with it. But someone passing by wouldn’t really pay attention to it. Not knowing this might be the starting point of a big adventure.

The route took me surprisingly enough pretty quickly into a forest. You start in a metro station in a small city so I didn’t suspect to be in nature so fast. Of course I came across some roads and more inhabited places. But still. I was happy with my surroundings. 

Hidden in the forest I found these massive bunkers of world war two. They were quite impressive. And it was nice to see how the children reformed them as playgrounds with camps and tree houses around them. Making the place a bit less sad. 

I passed through another village filled with rivers and bridges. Every household seemed to have a small boat floating near their front doors. It also surprised me that fishing is so popular with the youth here. You couldn’t walk 20 meters without passing another young person fishing.

Next I took the church pad. Which some papers-by told me was used by the farmers to get to church and back. It consisted of these tiles laid down across the field. With very small bridges every few meters to cross trenches between the fields. 

I followed this pad till I came back into the village where I would be taking a ferry. This was the point I was dreading. The last time I took one was with my parents when I was really small. So I didn’t really know what to expect. But it actually went really well. 

After more water crossings (this time by bridges) and more hiking I arrived at the campground in Brielle. After struggling to pitch my tent in the ocean winds. I finally had a place to rest. Tired but satisfied, I finished day one. 

Day 2

Distance: 43 km

Sleeping place: Boerderijcamping woutrinahoeve (do not recommend)

I was afraid of my body giving up after just one day. Of having too much muscle pain to walk normally. Because this was the feeling I had the evening before. But to my big surprise I woke up energized and ready to tackle the day. And what a day it would be.

I normally wake up around 7 O’clock, drink my coffee, pack everything up and start walking around 8 o’clock. Due to having to stick to campings I need to arrive before 5 O’clock. The departing went al really smoothly and with a good mood I started hiking.

First I came across a cute city named Brielle. It had some beautiful old buildings and the streets were very cozy with its paved roads. Normally I’m not a big fan of city’s because of all the people and sensory overload. But by embarking on my hike pretty early everything seemed asleep. And I had a wonderfully quiet time looking around.

Most of the day we walked in a nature park in the dunes. It was very pretty but quite challenging. I need to say, I really dislike walking in sand. But like really dislike it. Fortunately the sand alternated with forest roads. Which were very adventurous. A lot of the trails were flooded with water a time ago. People started to make trails around it but you could see not a lot of walkers tried to cross it. There was a lot of ducking and a bit of bushwalking and at some points als some wading through the knee high puddles. I liked the adventure of it.

Next was a long bridge. I mean a very long bridge. You had a part for bikers and pedestrians but it was right next to the cars and I really disliked it. The sensory input was just too much. In two they there will be another bridge and I think I will take the bus over it.

The last part you walk on the dikes. Here comes the point I was really tired. Due to the last minute reorganizing the campings, this day was way longer than expected. Especially needing to be there by 5 O’clock. But I kept pushing and going and eventually made it. 

I made it and noticed. No-one was home. I rang the bell at the front door. Rang the iron bell for when they were tending to their cows (it was a farm camping). I waited for a while. And you need to know that with my autism and already having difficulties communicating with people and things not going to plan, I was panicking at the moment. Calling is another difficult thing to do. Most of the time my parents do it for me because it takes so much energy. But they left a number. So I gathered all my courage, and called… no one picked up. I tried to calm myself and called my dad for help. He said to call once more to the owners and if they didn’t answer to search for a place to pitch my tent and if it really didn’t work out he still could come and get me. This calmed me down a bit. So I tried to call again. And they picked up! But damn what now. I tried to explain the situation that I had a reservation but there wasn’t anyone here. Another thing you need to know, I’m from Belgium, I speak Flemish. Now I’m in the Nederlands, our languages are most of the time both categorized under Dutch. But believe me, they’re definitely not the same… so of course the man on the phone did not get what I was saying but I could put up my tent. That was something.

So I put on my tent and lay on the ground next to it exhausted. Physically exhausted from a 43 km walk and mentally exhausted from the phone call and uncertainties. Suddenly I was very happy my dad told me to download some comfort series to get me through difficult times.

Day 3

Distance: 23km

Sleeping place: camping de Kramer (neutral)

I don’t have a lot to say about day three. The biggest part was rain. A lot of rain. It was forecast but I never had to deal with it with a tent and Appie. If the condensation in the tent is high I kick Appie out of the tent as soon as possible. Else she makes all the droplets to fall down. But if it rains that’s not very nice, and how would packing up in the tent go wit a dog in it? I had a lot of questions. But fortunately there was no condensation and everything went very quickly. 

Due to not being the best weather for coffee outside I started walking a bit after seven. In the beginning the rain wasn’t that bad. I mean it was pretty bad but it didn’t bother me that much. My clothes were still dry. Rain Gear holding up. Everything was fine. But when I got back on the dike I left yesterday. Soon the path was gone. It was just wet tall grass all the way to Herkingen. You could see someone had walked through it so I tried to walk in their footsteps and make a way for Appie to walk in. But all in all it wasn’t the most fun situation. My rain gear also started to fall after a the time and everything was just wet.

After Herkingen the path was asphalt and walked way better. The rain and wind was still bad but I was just glad to be on a real path again. We reached the camping really quick. As I told, my km planning is a bit fucked up apparently. So I only did around 23 km. 

I put op my tent in the rain. Walked in the bathrooms and stayed there to dry up and put on some thermo wear. And of course, when I went back outside, the rain was over and the sun was shining. Still glad I made it early to camp. 



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