Amelisweerd, a tiny piece of forest that must always remain

Amelisweerd can be quite busy at times, but on this Monday afternoon the forest is largely deserted. During the day it was overcast, but now the skies have opened and the green leaves are fluorescent in the afternoon sun. A first unripe chestnut lies on the ground and further on the ducklings come into the water in the Kromme Rijn. It is almost dark around Pepernotenberg, the forest is so close at this time of year. Then it breaks up at restaurant De Veldkeuken in a stately manner trapezoidal forest (the name indicates the pattern of the paths) of monumental trees. Unfortunately, De Veldkeuken is closed on Mondays, so no coffee for me. I continue on the towpath along the Kromme Rijn towards Theehuis Rhijnauwen.

More than twenty years ago, Amelisweerd was the first thing I received from Utrecht in my life. When I ended up in the woods of Stayokay from the east of the country for a working week in 5VWO, I still had no idea of ​​the significance of the – actually pitifully small – piece of forest on the edge of Utrecht. I had no idea the years-long fight against construction and later expansion of the A27 motorway, a six-lane motorway straight through the nature reserve. And I also had no idea why so many Utrechters value the estate so much.

A decade after that work week, I moved to Utrecht and discovered why. Of course, there are parks in Utrecht, and a few kilometers behind Amelisweerd begins the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, a much more extensive piece of forest, where it is also a good place to relax. But Amelisweerd belongs to us, Utrechters. Ten minutes by bike from the center you find yourself in a real forest. The landscape looks different after each bend in the path. And every season too: the view of the water in spring when the roadsides are still bare, the bocage landscape in summer, the fifty shades of brown in autumn, and in winter there always seems to be snow. During corona, I came to Amelisweerd so often that I can now make a timelapse of the same view, through the seasons. And I can still get lost, there are so many shortcuts, paths and turns in the forest.

At the tea house, the silence of the forest usually gives way to the hectic pace of prams, cyclists, cars and screaming children. This pancake restaurant, with a beautiful lawn running diagonally into the Kromme Rijn, is a perfect mooring for kayakers and dinner. Luckily it’s Monday and the crowd isn’t too bad: there’s no queue at the entrance and there’s actually a table almost by the water. A pancake with bacon, apple, cheese and syrup later we walk the towpath back to our bike. In the background of the golden hour, you can see only one thing: this forest must never give way to a wider highway.

there and back

From Utrecht Central, take bus 41 in the direction of Wijk bij Duurstede. The bus stops at various places along Amelisweerd, but it is best to get off at the Oud-Amelisweerd stop and then enter Koningslaan. You can walk straight into the forest behind the restaurant De Veldkeuken. When the weather is really good, you can take an OV bike from Utrecht Central Station for a nice bike ride via Burgemeester Reigerstraat (shopping!), Wilhelminapark (ice cream!), Rietveld-Schröderhuis (culture!) and then rent a canoe at De Rijnstroom, with which you paddle down the entire Kromme Rijn to Theehuis Rhijnauwen.

Flora and fauna

In Amelisweerd there is a lot of water and a lot of forest. There are beech trees and oaks that are hundreds of years old, in autumn you find a lot of mushrooms and you see and hear many herons, woodpeckers, geese, coots and ducks. There are also deer, buzzards, kingfishers, squirrels and bats, but I haven’t spotted them yet.

Sights and activities

Many visitors’ favorite activities are canoeing, kayaking and dining, and there is also a remarkable amount of swimming in the Kromme Rijn. In addition, you can enjoy cycling and of course walking. You rarely see sloops or other motor vessels, and we would like to keep that in Utrecht. If you’re looking for culture, Landhuis Oud-Amelisweerd offers solace. In the house you can admire special old wallpapers and there are regular exhibitions. There are also remains of a fortress that was formerly part of the Dutch water line.

Food and drinks

You don’t need a picnic basket here, there are three wonderful places for a drink and a drink: next to the country house at De Veldkeuken, on the terrace of Stayokay in Amelisweerd castle and at the tea house. If you want something more luxurious, go to restaurant Vroeg, near the car park at Oud-Amelisweerd.

Leave a Comment