Sunday, March 22, 2009

Landgoed Schaffelaar in Barneveld

Barneveld, a municipality in Gelderland (in the east of the Netherlands) is popularly known for breeding chickens. Poultry farming and egg production is a huge industry in this little low-key town. In the town center you can find statues of this winged creature everywhere.

A giant rooster! The Schaffelaar Castle in Neo-Tudor style is named after Jan van Schaffelaar who jumped off the Barneveld Tower to save his men.

However, we didn’t visited Barneveld for its impressive collection of pullet (they even have a museum called Het Nederlands Pluimveemuseum) or for its uninspiring little town center -- we came here for the walking trails in Landgoed Schaffelaar which is advantageously located just right across the small town center and a huge parking lot.

If you are a reader of this blog, you will notice that part of my favorite weekend activities (when I am not assaulted with the lazy bug) is strolling in forests, nature parks and noble estates open to the public.

More pictures here: Barneveld - Gelderland, The Netherlands

Begin of the walking trails to the forest. The property is now owned by Het Geldersch Landschap as you can see on the white fence gate.

The Schaffelaar Estate or ‘Kasteel de Schaffelaar’ as popularly known by the locals in Barneveld is a park that is open to the public to roam around. The castle is in Neo Tudor design circa 1850 which was sold in the late 60’s for an outrageous symbolic sum of fl1,00 (1 Dutch Guilder!) by its owner, a baroness to the Barneveld municipality with the promise that the municipality will restore the castle to its previous glory -- which they did and was reopened in 1980. The land property around it is now owned and managed by ‘Het Geldersch Landschap’.

The walking trails in the estate were a very nice experience. Route is approximately 7+ kilometers, not that long, and leaning towards the romantic route really with the castle in the background, the manicured themed park and gardens in its proximity and the dreamy bridges. I can only imagine how the place would look like during mid spring to summer when the flowers are in full colour and bloom, and the trees covered in lush greens.

The walking trail and the bald trees... and next foto arethe goats. That string before the fence is with voltage!

I just love the expanse of the property... the elegance it exudes... oh, the romantic wooden bridge which is my favourite, the lake... and the symmetrical lanes in the forest which at the moment are flanked with bald trees because of the winter season.

There is an inviting Orangerie royally designed in Victorian style in the middle of the field that now serves as a café restaurant. Unfortunately this pretty café is only open from Tuesdays and Thursdays. I cannot help but the capitalist in me frowns at their strange opening times when they could have easily grossed more profit if they have opened on a weekend! There were actually quite a number of people in the estate -- families with children going for a walk, teenage girls on their ‘oma’ bikes, mothers pushing baby strollers, couples sitting on the benches enjoying the beautiful and peaceful panorama....

The beautiful wooden bridge. This is one of my favourite places in the estate.

Don’t they see that the estate is bustling with people during the weekend? Take for example the pannenkoeken restaurants in Rhijnauwen and in Lage Vuursche, they are open on weekends because after the forest walk people naturally would search for a place to sit down to eat and drink. Who would go there between Tuesdays and Thursdays anyway?

Anywho, after the stroll we went for tea in the (ghost) town center. Most of the restaurants as predicted by the Dutchman were closed. He whispered to me that Barneveld is a ‘zwaar gereformeerd dorp’ or ‘christelijke dorp‘ meaning, a very religious town of the Dutch Reformed (protestant) Church. OK, that is why many horeca establishments are closed!

The Netherlands might seem very tolerant, free and open to the outside world but you will be surprised to find many strict and traditional religious communities still existing in this forward thinking little country.

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