GOOD Country Park Walk South Holland Country Estate Zone
44 km – overnight walk (can be shortened to 37 or 24 km)
The Republic of the United Netherlands, proclaimed by the end of the 16th century, developed into a leading country. The 17th century, the Golden Age, saw a thriving trade, a blossoming economy, as well as great cultural and scientific developments. Regents and wealthy merchants dominated the prosperous Dutch cities. They expanded the cities with canal rings, and commissioned the construction of beautiful canal houses. The very rich purchased land in the countryside to have country estates built as their summer residences.
The villages on the old beach ridges on the South Holland seashore offered excellent locations for country estates. Situated in lovely, richly wooded areas, they were easily accessible from cities such as The Hague and Leiden. When barge canals were dug, the number of country houses along these waterways immediately increased significantly. Travelling by towing barge was much more convenient than by carriage, and it was a lot easier to transport household effects to the summerhouse and have visitors come over.
The overnight walk will take you past country estates and mansions in the southern part of the South Holland Country Estate Zone that were built close to the old village centres on the beach ridge and along the Vliet Canal. If you start your walk in The Hague, you will be following the footsteps of mansion owners who lived here centuries ago. On your walk, you will see country houses in Wassenaar, Voorschoten, Leidschendam-Voorburg, and Rijswijk. The gardens and parks on a number of country estate are open to the public (some are free of charge, some require an admission fee), including Rust en Vreugd, Backershagen, De Paauw, and De Horsten in Wassenaar; Duivenvoorde in Voorschoten; Vreugd en Rust, Hofwijck, Middenburg, and Arentsburgh-Hoekenburg in Leidschendam-Voorburg; and Cromvliet and Hofrust in Rijswijk. In addition, the principal houses of a number of country estates are open to the public. You are welcome, for instance, to take a glimpse inside Huize De Paauw in Wassenaar, Kasteel Duivenvoorde in Voorschoten, and Huygens Hofwijck in Voorburg.