Leg one of our monumental summer road trip takes us from Harwich to the Hook of Holland on a pretty impressive Stena Line ferry. It’s a fairly long crossing but with plenty of entertainment it flies by. There is an on board cinema, complete with comfy seats and popcorn, arcade and gambling areas, a large shop for all your duty free needs, basketball court on the upper deck, a play area where we watched a great live magic show and plenty of restaurant and bar options. We even get to enjoy a siesta in our cosy cabin! Fresh and ready for action we reach Hook of Holland late afternoon.
About two hours from the ferry port and only about an hour north-east of Amsterdam we find ourselves in a picturesque little village called Heeg. Watersportcamping Heeg are our hosts for the next 4 days and its truly a delightful experience exploring the campsite and the beautiful lake it sits upon. The campsite offers luxury cabins as well as lakeside pitches, there are a good variety of spaces to put your tent or campervan, most have shade and plenty of room to stash your boats, kayaks and paddle boards. There is a lakeside cabin where you can get refreshments and delicious ice cream, they also sell fresh bread for breakfast which can be ordered the day before. The campsite offers plenty of activities, sailing lessons, boat rides, kayaking and paddle board hire.
On the second day of our stay two men arrive with a Dutch Tub on the back of a tractor! There is much anticipation and excitement as they set it up lakeside, fill it with water and light the wood burner, we are told to keep loading it with wood and give it 3-4 hours to heat up. By the evening we are sitting in a beautifully warmed tub admiring the stunning sun setting over the lake. If you appreciate a good sunset, you will definitely not be disappointed here. Bright red and pink streaks fill the sky as the sun goes down and the lake reflects it back in all its glory.
While the Dutch Tub heats up the children are having a sailing lesson! The sailing teacher, Judith, has been on the water most of her life and is as child friendly as she is competent. She also impresses the teenagers with her previous title of No 3 kitesurfer in Holland! She shows the children the ropes and in no time they are skimming across the surface of the lake as if they’ve been doing it their whole lives. From the 5 year old to the 15 year old it is thoroughly enjoyable and full of inspiration, the children spend the rest of the afternoon paddle boarding, kayaking and exploring the vast beauty of the lake.
One the third day we manage to tear ourselves away from Heeg and take a drive into Amsterdam just over an hour away. We’ve booked tickets for the Van Gogh Museum (the children have been studying him at school). The younger children are offered the chance to take part in the exhibition treasure hunt and they all rise to the challenge while the teenagers wonder off on their own checking out the many paintings and interactive displays there are to see. Everyone is wowed by the Sunflower painting and the slightly surreal experience of walking through Van Gogh’s dreams.
After grabbing a picnic at the supermarket we make our way to meet John, the captain of our private boat ride! He tells us the rules of the boat; basically there are no rules except enjoy yourself and don't get knocked overboard by any low bridges! We get settled in and with an ice cold beer in hand and some surprisingly delicious supermarket sushi, we cruise lazily down the winding canals and under the many bridges of Amsterdam. The hour flies past far too quickly and before we know it we are being offloaded onto the side of a canal in the centre of town. We have a last little wonder on foot before heading back to the metro to head home. There is a crazy heatwave hitting Europe and it’s one of the hottest days so far – well into the late 30’s. Everyone is looking forward to getting back to the cool campsite in time to see the sun go down.
Our last day is spent chilling out on the lake and preparing for leaving in the morning. We’ve had a fabulous time here and are all sad to leave. The facilities are great, Karin and her team are so hospitable and determined to make your stay a good one. We loved the quirky little touches around each corner – the kissing box, the ‘break glass in case of war’ dove, decorations and messages in the trees and the ‘beware of crocodiles’ sign by the lake (which almost stopped the 7 year old getting into the lake at all!). The Dutch Tub was amazing and so indulgent - we had no idea it was even a ‘thing’. We would totally recommend this place for its tranquil and beautiful setting with the option to visit the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam for a day-trip or two.