June 17, 2023

Sail and Bike in the Netherlands aboard Leafde fan Fryslan

Travel specialist, Martyn R Paterson takes us to the Wedder Sea and Friesland Islands

My week aboard the sailing ship Leafde fan Fryslan was thoroughly enjoyable. The trip was varied and interesting with everything going smoothly despite some wild, windy days.

The sailing ship was remarkably comfortable. The public areas are spacious and well laid out with plenty of room for all the guests. My single cabin was small but adequate with a good size bathroom. It had everything I needed. Other twin cabins onboard were quite spacious.

The idea of putting up the sails appealed to everyone aboard and there were many enthusiastic helpers. Sails were hoisted, even the topsail, at every opportunity.

The crew of just four were brilliant, nothing was too much trouble and nothing phased them. They all worked tirelessly to make everyone’s trip the best it could be and still had time to chat and offer advice where needed. A big thank you goes to chef Peter whose menu and presentation gave me some of the best meals I have experienced on a boat and bike trip. Plus he always had fresh cakes or cookies for afternoon snacks. Brilliant.

The bikes, mine an e-bike, worked perfectly, with more than enough battery left at the end of the day. The whole group only had one flat tyre and no mechanical breakdowns during the week and that was quickly dealt with.

The itinerary was fascinating, a great mix of wild natural beauty, Dutch culture and history and wonderfully varied cycling paths. I enjoyed the art galleries, museums, a traditional market or two, the coffee shops - especially the Heartbreak Hotel - and the views across the North Sea beaches. I appreciated the widespread internet access. The seafood on the islands and the frites were great, I often came back with my sandwich lunch uneaten. 

The trails through the woods and beside the sand dunes and polders were great fun. We had more than enough information with the app, map and junction sheet. No one got lost, no one was likely to.

I have no hesitation in recommending this trip to anyone who enjoys cycling, including those occasional cyclists, and the romance of a traditional sailing ship. And my goodness, wasn’t it brilliant to see those rows of old and restored sailing boats in every port we visited.

One last point, I decided to go directly to Enkhuizen rather than stay in a hotel in Amsterdam, it was truly a highlight of my stay. Just an hour by easy train ride from Schipol Airport, I loved wandering the cobbled streets with building dating back to the 17th century and port area. The shopping and the food were excellent. We even had a jazz festival in full swing, with music and wine everywhere when we returned to port.

For full details on this itinerary, download the information brochure

Martyn R Paterson is the owner of Outdoor Travel Pty Ltd, an agency specialising in hotel, inn, resort or lodge-based active holidays such as walking, cycling, bike & barge, mountain or e-bike touring, trekking, hiking, boating, canal narrowboats or hotel barging, sailing, sea kayaking, cooking, painting, horse riding and much more.

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