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Cremer Lake, Kennermer Dune Area South, Santpoord, North-Holland
The route around Cremer lake is ideal for those who enjoy quiet off-limits wilderness, rare in Holland. There is a legal and illegal route.
Beech Trees at the Duin en Kruidberg estate (click on pictures to enlarge)
Horses at Cremer Lake.
Scottish Highlander Cows at Cremer Lake.
One of the hidden secrets of the Kennermer dunes walks is the route around Cremer lake. It is little used, especially the West trail, the Hubertus trail, as it is hidden.
You have two options, walk from the nearby station, Santpoord-Noord, or bring a bicycle and park it nearby. The full walk is around 15 km, but using the bicycle, the walk is only 3-4 km.
Near the lake, you could take the legal route or the illegal route with a risk of tics. One percent of tic bites will transmit Lyme disease. Beware, "Nature is dangerous". l only take the illegal route in cold weather, less than 10 C, or in very warm and dry weather, more than 25 C, or in the early spring when the grass is still low. Don't take it in moist 15+ C weather with high grass.
The full walk
This is my favorite but takes around 3 hours net round trip, 4 hours with rests. It starts at the Santpoord-Noord Station, going West to the Duin en Kruidberg estate. There is a Northern or Southern route. The latter takes you through an ancient beech forest on the first row of dunes with a maximum height of 24 m, level with the 6th and top floor in the tower of the estate. The description below is for the Southern Route.
To the start of the forest, 500 m, 10 minutes
Take the road lined with big beech trees past the horse stable of Kennermergaarde, cross the T-junction, jump across the low fence (left side is easier, the spikes are bent down for a reason) to enter the Duin en Kruidberg estate, and go more or less straight for the forest, past the grey 50th marriage anniversary fountain of Mr. and Mrs Cremer. The giant building is from 1909 and at the time the biggest private house in Holland see: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landgoed_Duin_en_Kruidberg
It is now a hotel, have a drink here on the terrace or a bite. In the summer, you need to make a reservation, even for lunch.
Fence at the estate, jump across on the left side. Legal.
Duin en Kruidberg
50th marriage aniversary fountain of Mr. and Mrs Cremer.
The beech forest, and to the gravel road of the Hertogweg, 20 minutes
A yellow sign at the start of the forest indicates you are entering a national park. Here you have to go up steeply and follow a trail roughly North marked with green signs: up the hill, a winding trail for 300 m, turn left through a cattle gate, follow the main trail for 100 m, you are now on top of the Koepelberg, 24 m, right at a T-junction (on the left there is a look-out bench), after 200 m left at a T-junction, going down a ridge with curly beech trees covering a sand dune for 200 m, turn right at the end of the ridge, leaving the green trail of the "Stroperspad" (near an open meadow with a picnic bench), and after 200 m finally hitting a 4 m wide gravel road, the Hertogweg, running E-W. Distance is about a 1000 m and you may meet a few walkers.
Watch my directions, else you end up on the Southern bicycle trail, but no sweat yet, use this to get back on the trail. Go 500 m West and 500 m North, now you are at the Witteweg.
I highly recommend this trail with its magnificent ancient beech trees, as well as big pine and oak trees.
Entrance of the beech and pine forest.
Snails, a wet August day is a day of love.
Sandy ridge with beech trees.
To the Y junction of the Tweede Dwarsweg and Koningsweg with red NS wandel routes plates, 30 minutes
On the gravel road of the Hertogweg go West (left), and after 700 m right on a busy cycle path going up. Watch the speeding racing bikes with youngsters and electric bikes with oldies going down hill at high speed in the curves. A red pole in the middle of the cycle lane to prevent cars entering, will take out a few speeding cyclists every year. They should remove it ASAP.
Turn left after 100 m to enter the Witteweg, a rocky gravel road, along a forest. There is a look-out bench to watch the cyclists.
After one km you pass my favorite bench below giant pine trees. In the summer it is always taken so use it when available. Behind it, is a popular toilet stop.
Another 500 m along a sandy road is a major junction with NS walking route signs. Most walkers turn left for a shorter walk, but here you turn right and follow the Koningsweg.
Bicycle path with barrier, going down-hill too fast could crash you here.
My favorite bench below large pine trees.
Junction at the start of the Koningsweg.
To Cremer Lake, 20 min.
A quiet winding road will take you to Cremer lake after around 2 km. Pass the Olmen trail on the left, a bench on the left and 100 m further decide:
Go for the route along the lake, very illegal;
Just visit the lake and go back, illegal; or,
Stay legal and don't go to the lake.
The local rangers try to block the sandy dune access with branches but they are torn down by frequent visitors, not humans, but Koniks horses, Scottish Highland cows and deer.
Hollow tree, partly burned.
Start of the Olmen trail.
Bench 100 m before the access dunes of the Cremer Lake.
Cremer Lake, 30 min., including rest
Few walkers visit the lake, perhaps 2-4 a day in the summer, rare in the winter, mainly bird watchers. It is extremely quiet, with resident swans and ducks, and on lucky days, you will see Koniks horses, Scottish Highland cows or deer, but usually none.
Don't go naked or sunbathing claiming the area as a beach bum, as you may be surprised by a frequent visitor resembling a ranger, "me".
We once saw a single man sun bathing, naked, in a secluded NE corner behind trees and when we surprised him, he quickly covered his private parts. He almost ran away resembling a frightened deer. He will never come back.
On warm days, I recommend taking a quick skinny dip on the NE side, or just do some staring in the distance for a few minutes enjoying the tranquility, and then move on.
Enjoy the peaceful area and don't stay long, so you will meet nobody.
Cremer Lake dunal access at the Koningsweg, hidden.
Dunal access to Cremer Lake.
Old foot steps at Cremer Lake on january 1st, 2019, all animals.
Legal route to the Hubertus Trail
I recommend you don't try the wilderness trail unless you an experienced bush walker, and go back to the road, follow it West for 500 m and turn left at the St. Hubertus trail, just past a big lake on the right. The entrance and sign is poorly visible and you may take it for an animal trail. After a few hundred meter it joins the illegal route coming from the left. When you miss it, just keep going on the gravel road which is a longer parallel route, less interesting and could be blocked in the winter by high water in the swamps.
The Hubertus trail was made in 2000 with a LIFE-grant and was designated a Natura-2000 area. It winds through the wet valley between the 7th row of dunes on the coast, on the West, and the 6th row of dunes, on the East. The latter have been cleared and is now a large sand desert on the West side of Cremer lake and the sand is slowly blown into the lake. On a windy day, you get dusted with sand. Don't go down to the lake along the steep 30 degree hill, there may be "quick sand" drowning you.
Again you have a choice, an illegal route across the sand dunes to the South tip of the lake, blinding in the summer sun, or continue along the legal trail. The legal trail ends at an E-W cycle lane, use the look-out bench to look back.
Legal route around Cremer Lake.
Illegal route, short cut to the Hubertus Trail
You could continue on the illegal route along the North side of the lake and try to find the Hubertus Trail following one of many animal trails. The trail is only 200 m SW from the NE tip of the lake but is difficult to find, hidden in the dunes.
Once you are up the hill, you should follow a trail on top of the main SW ridge.
Like in true wilderness, animal trails go all over the place, left and right, up and down. Don't do it in the summer to avoid tics as one percent of bites result in a Lyme disease infection. There are roughly three routes, none obvious.
Illegal route around Cremer Lake.
North side of Cremer Lake.
Horses at Cremer Lake.
Swans at Cremer Lake.
Rare deer at Cremer Lake.
Swimming area at the NE corner, for a quick skinny dip, else “we” will ctch you.
Route from Cremer Lake to the Hubertus Trail. Up the hill, follow one of many trails on top of the main SW ridge.
Cleared dunes West of Cremer Lake, “the dessert”.
Route South of the bicycle lane, to the Olmen trail, 15 min.
Follow the blue trail East (left), running South of the concrete bicycle trail to avoid this. I often see inexperienced walkers on the bicycle trail, unaware of the nice trail South of the bicycle trail.
After 10 minutes you are South of Cremer lake and could use the bench with a nice view. Here the illegal desert route joins.
Another 10 minutes along the blue trail and you will see a bike park and a bench near the bicycle lane at a large oak tree. This is the start of the Olmen Trail, leave the blue trail here.
Bench South of Cremer Lake. View from the desert route.
The start of the bicycle route, joining the walking route, the Olmen Trail.
This is the start of the bicycle option, cycle till here and do a walk of one hour around the lake.
Now we have another interesting choice:
Due North along an illegal but often used animal trail to Cremer Lake, only 300 m; or,
NE along the Olmen Trail.
The illegal route is surprisingly short but very few persons use it, the one with local knowledge like bird watchers or trail runners and luckily, rarely sun bathing beach bums.
At the lake, you pick up the walking route, legal or illegal, see above.
Recommend the walkers and bicyclists follow the legal Olmen trail and after a km you are back on the walking access trail. The walkers turn right to go back. The bicyclists turn left, and use the walking route, see above, section "Cremer Lake".
Bike park and bench at the start of the Olmen Trail.
Oak tree at the bike park.
Start of the illegal short-cut from the bike park to Cremer Lake, sandy trail left of the forest.
Illegal short-cut from the bike park to Cremer Lake, blocked a tree cut down by rangers.
Back for the walkers, 75 min.
Go back the same route to the station. You may miss the trail to the majestic beech forest (just past a bench near a small fenced off meadow), the one you came, and end up at a gate after another 700 m near the main road. Jump across, the braised paint shows that is in regular use. Before crossing the gate, notice the beech trees, impressive giants, possibly 200-300 years old, rom the time of stadhouder William III, the first owner of the estate.
Sugest you have a drink or a bite at the hotel. The staff is very friendly.
After refreshments, follow the road past the horse meadows and turn left at the road to Kennermergaarde, lined with giant beech trees, and you end up at the station, 10 minutes to catch the xx:19 or xx:39 local train to Haarlem and Amsterdam.
Back at the Olmen Trail / Koningsweg.
I hope you enjoyed the route and did not encounter a ranger or look-alike, "me", on the illegal trails, esp. not when skinny dipping or sun bathing as we would scare you off like a bear watching a nervous deer trespassng his territory.