An honesty bar on the route: Bergharen Refuge


Co-coordinator Damiaan visited Ad and Iny’s mountain hut in Bergharen with colleague Manja. An ‘honesty bar’ where pilgrims can make their own tea and coffee and catch their breath. A spontaneous initiative of cordiality on the Walk of Wisdom. Who knows, maybe she will inspire other…

Among pilgrims, every human being is equal. I think that is one of the most beautiful values of ‘modern pilgrimage’. Modern pilgrims each follow their own truth. A bank manager gets under the same dust as an incapacitated person. For the sun, rain or mud, it doesn’t matter how much you represent socially. Every pilgrim walks the same route, with the same horizon. But at your own pace and with your own unique mind.

In the practice of pilgrimage, of course, there is a difference. One pilgrim easily pays 100 euros for a B&B, while the other lugs around a heavy tent or depends on cheap sleeping addresses.

Honesty Bar

It makes me happy to see places on our pilgrimage route where the wallet doesn’t count. Such a place is the Berghut van Ad and Iny in Bergharen. In addition to a place to sleep for people with little budget, they have an ‘honesty bar’ where you can make your own tea or coffee for a voluntary contribution. A place of cordiality in an environment where there is little else to eat. Enthused by messages from our pilgrims, Manja and I went to visit.

It leads to great conversations.”

When we arrive from the route, Ad is already waiting for us outside, standing in front of his house. We immediately climb his ‘mountain’. He leads us up the stairs. About twenty meters above, a beautiful hut with the honesty bar awaits you. Heated, equipped with a toilet and electricity. From the veranda we enjoy the view over the flat landscape of Maas and Waal.

Honesty Bar
mountain hut by Greetje Kuiken

Ad proudly points to the moraine next to the mountain hut. There, he and Iny planted a small food forest. A place where they wanted to let nature take its course. After a few dry summers, they have come back from it: “In the dry sand of the moraine, it all dies. Even now that we are watering, 20% of the plantings die.” The moraine itself is a remnant of the last ice age, which deposited sediment from the Utrechtse Heuvelrug to Nijmegen.

Ad turns out to be a retired math teacher and deputy director of a havo, which is right on our route. Over the years, he and Iny have built up a nice area in Bergharen. Instead of the old farmhouse, they recently built an energy-efficient home. Ad: “From the living room, I can see pilgrims coming from afar.”

Over a cup of tea and cake, the energetic septuagenarian says: “Since our retirement, we have been committed to the neighborhood and started a B&B. After my time at school, I thought I knew people. But a whole new world opened up for us.

Until recently, we had a B&B room in the higher segment next to the mountain hut for people with a modest budget. Most of the time, guests can join us for dinner. We soon noticed how big the differences are. Guests of the mountain hut are busy with completely different things than people who want to stay in a B&B for a holiday weekend. Walking for days on end triggers a lot in them. It leads to great conversations.”

The more luxurious B&B has recently closed. Now they organize a dinner concert for 25 people in that space every month. There will be a performance between each of the courses. After each dish, you shift seats. “That’s how you get to know new people.” They do it for the cost price and it turns out to be a great success.


An honesty bar where you can just walk in yourself to make coffee and tea. Pretty soon I ask if their trust has not yet been betrayed. Man is not that honest, is he? Ad smiles, he is often asked: “Even when we are not there, we almost always leave the mountain hut open. We live in the back and only neighbors or hikers come by. It’s never gone wrong in four years.”

Paying the voluntary contribution also appears to be no problem: “In the beginning, people could put money in a box. However, when a pilgrim once put down €5, I was ashamed. I immediately jumped in the car to follow her. As it turned out, she just didn’t have any smaller. Now we have a QR code and people pay with their bank’s app. Easy.”

Good to hear. Maybe they can inspire other people along the route to start a stopping place as well? I’m dreaming out loud… Isn’t it a lot of work? Every time up that ‘mountain’ to clean, replenish the coffee and tea, change the bed linen…

Ad: “The work in the garden and the food forest actually keep us fit. I do the laundry and clean, Iny cooks.” He winks and shows his pedometer with satisfaction. “We would like to share this place and love a chat. We just keep the Berghut. This way, people with little money have a place to sleep and pilgrims can take shelter when it rains.”

Would you also like to start an honesty bar or become a host family?

Would you also like to start a stopping place or ‘honesty bar’ on the route or become a host family against friends on the bike rate? Contact us: link.