Groesbeek Walk of Wisdom

“Walk of Wisdom. pilgrimage. Throughout the seasons, eight stages in nine months. Two countries, three provinces and eleven municipalities. One hundred and forty kilometres. Watch the day come and watch it go. Blue sky and sun rays. Gray world in the rain. Cheeks red from the cold and sweaty from the heat. We are. With all the time in the world. Relaxed. In silence. Having good conversations. Contemplating confronting questions. Laughing exuberantly. It does not matter. In the moment, nothing stands in our way. Infinite space. Free!”

Marouska Brandsma
(pilgrim 7125)

bruggetje Bergharen door Martine van Vliet

Walk of Wisdom 6 tm 12 September 2021

There I went…..61 years old, my first pilgrimage, a 7 days walking tour, all alone. Would I like it, feel comfortable on vacation with myself like this? Living alone is different from traveling alone. Would my body still be able to and sustain it? What will my path look like?

So this is what my path looked like sometimes.

Ooijpoort Nijmegen door Martine van Vliet
bruggetje Bergharen door Martine van Vliet

My inner path was as diverse as what my eyes saw.

After the first steps, the nervousness subsided: I was on the road! Yes! The wobbly pedestrian bridge to the Waalstranden probably knew how I felt those first meters and adapted. Then a firmer step despite loose sand. Pride, joy….. I left, look at me walking. Every step a little closer to myself. All senses open as I take my steps.

But then, in the course of that day, fatigue sets in, it is hot, the backpack is pinching and heavy, I feel broken, I am dead tired, I have walked too far and too fast, too little rested. Nauseous with fatigue, I force myself to eat something and realize that tomorrow I won’t be able to get out of bed. I feel pathetic, this won’t work this week, disappointment. So many feelings and thoughts.


Of course I could still get out of bed, put on my backpack that I hated yesterday and continued on my way. This day together with a fellow pilgrim.

Stopping not an option? Did I have to prove something? For whom? Let go and walk.

Walking together shifted the focus, we walked quietly, with regular breaks and singing a song and painting a stone. The beginning always takes getting used to… just calmly put one leg in front of the other and ignore the backpack or “embrace it”.

My steps become calmer as my journey progresses through those days. I myself also become more and more calm during this trip. I look around me and enjoy what I see, hear and smell in nature. Meeting fellow pilgrims, host families, people I meet contribute to calming down: so many lovely, nice people and my self-confidence is slowly returning. I’m starting to enjoy…..

Hatertste Vennen door Martine van Vliet

What a beautiful, special trip in every way. Peace, inner peace is what it brought me, what I feel… that is quite new to me. Me, someone who is always on the move and so busy according to my environment. Now that repeating movement brings Calm. I enjoy, enjoy everything and myself as a fellow traveller.

New insights and thoughts are noted and are still trickling in.

Contentment, with my life, with myself is another feeling that is strongly present: to make you happy

Two weeks later I still miss the rhythm of walking on every day, being on the road. I even miss the heavy backpack on my shoulders.

I have completed my first pilgrimage, so happy and grateful that my body was still able to do it and so happy that I now know how to find real peace if I may fall into old habits. I write “first”, because you can count on me going on several hikes alone to experience that contented and peaceful experience so that it becomes one’s own, and also to meet new people.

Not yet the finish line please…..linger on a bit…!”

Martine van Vliet,

De Rijp, 25 september 2021

Cover Fertile Earth Elysian Fields by Siemen Dijkstra

The Vruchtbare Aarde (Fertile Earth) magazine tries to get to the ‘inside of things’. The last issue contained a report by pilgrim Herman Heijstek about his Walk of Wisdom. The issue is in Dutch!

Fertile Earth - Elysian Fields cover by Siemen Dijkstra
Fertile Earth – Elysian Fields cover by Siemen Dijkstra

The overarching theme of this issue of Fertile Earth was how do we become good ancestors? A question that the English philosopher Roman Krznaric recently asked in his book of the same name. Krznaric appeals to the best of mankind that has shown in history to be able to think ahead, beyond the shadow of it’s own generation. From pyramids to cathedrals to the welfare state, we as humanity can work towards a future beyond ourselves. With that same horizon we can make our society sustainable, says Krznaric. Now live like a good ancestor for seven generations on.

I like this way of thinking. Our individual freedom is related to our interconnectedness. Only thanks to everything that generations have built up before me, can I live in the prosperity with which I grew up in the Netherlands. Thanks to the food that people elsewhere sow and harvest for me, thanks to nature that converts the energy of the sun into edible matter, I can exist. I try to contribute something good so that the web of life becomes stronger.

Read the article by Herman Heijstek. The article itself is not so much about good ancestry, but about “slowing down”. The article is in Dutch however!

report silent walk Walk of Wisdom pilgrimage jachtslot mookerheide

Saturday morning, a light drizzle, gray cloud, little light as December is a darker month. Today we will walk the Walk of Wisdom together: the Zevendal, the Mookerhei, Mulderskop and Heumensoord. What a beautiful variety of places there are here. After the drizzle, the fog stays around us all day long as a protection, the rest of the world and daily wrinkles are far away. The fog shows us the bare winter trees as clear silhouettes, and an undefined life hides behind the gray haze. What a strange gift, a chilly December day, offering me protection and wonder.

The forest is bare, and a lot of trees has been felled. More than usual I see the beautiful tall trunks that are still standing and the terrain between the trees, ditches and holes. A border of trees in the middle of a moor. People everywhere have done something with the land, swept away pieces for a railway yard, herded cattle to graze the heathland, planted and felled. A process that always continues, and of which I am a part.

Together we are hiking companions for a day, what do we share? We want to be on the road, experience, be outside in nature. But everyone also has their own story, what does it leave behind? Is one day enough?

Yes, this one day I can step out of the daily routine, get into a new beautiful mist and move on with a rich experience.


Next silent walk Walk of Wisdom pilgrim route: January 8th.

pilgrim Jessie Jager Stevenskerk

Slowing down – that’s what people often think of when making pilgrimages. This summer, Jessie Jager featured in Runner’s World and Women’s Health with a completely different experience. Jessie walked our 136 kilometer trail not in one or two weeks, but 16 hours. Yes, 16 hours! By running.

How meaningful that can be, she tells Women’s Health :

pilgrim Jessie Jager Stevenskerk
Jessie at endpoint the St. Stevenschurch

“A day like this is grueling, but also very impressive. Friends and family walked along, you experience everything very intensely because there are no distractions. There is only the path, you, and the lovely people who support you. It puts things in perspective. The start and end point of the Walk of Wisdom is at St. Steven’s Church, which towers far above the city. I had visualized what it would be like to finally see the tip of that tower, that kept me going. Once I saw it, I was overwhelmed with emotions. No matter how hard it is, there will always be a good moment, or a solution. That’s what I try to pass on to my children. I now know how far perseverance can take you. ”

An ode

Her pilgrimage was an ode to her inspirator Jaap, she writes.

“Forward and don’t falter!”

“That’s what Jack would say. 25 years ago, supreme joy and intense sadness were so close together.

I was almost 15 and was in 3 gymnasium of the Lorentz College in Arnhem when in 1994 the call came to sign up for the musical Bumper: a self-written production inspired by West Side Story. I jumped on, I wanted to get on that stage and I was going to audition! After rehearsing as a dancer for over a year, I was standing together with all the other, more than 100, participants receiving thunderous applause in the city theater of Arnhem. “Three evenings the great hall was destroyed!” Jaap said in his last speech. Jaap was the choreographer, the man behind the direction and the set. Outside the musical he was a gym teacher and owner of a ballet school. But above all, he was an inspiration to everyone. His creativity, decisiveness, perseverance, positivity and ability to bring out the best in people was a big example for me. He saw where there was nothing to see for others.

And then, 11 days after the red curtain was drawn and there was partying until the wee hours, suddenly the thump of Jaap’s death came. My world stood still, this was incomprehensible as a 15-year-old. The farewell was beautiful; once again an overcrowded hall and again as the last song Somewhere. Jaap would be in my heart forever and many times in my life I would find answers thinking, “That’s how Jaap would have done it.”

Then suddenly I saw a pole with a symbol

The years passed. I have now been working for more than 15 years in Nijmegen at a secondary school where I, as a production manager, make a major contribution to beautiful musicals. I have left the dance world behind me for a while. But I still like to move. Running through the woods and mountains is what I love to do. We are lucky that there are beautiful nature reserves around Arnhem and Nijmegen.

So is Berg en Dal. The forest I became acquainted with while running 3.5 years ago. I was taken in tow and pointed to the most beautiful paths and the most magical light when I suddenly saw a pole with a symbol on it. In a moment of bewilderment, I saw in that symbol the logo of Jaap’s ballet school. That was very special. While I feel so happy and energetic, it seems to me that Jaap is dancing around. The symbol on the pole turned out to be part of a pilgrimage route called the Walk of Wisdom. A 136 km long pilgrimage trail that starts at the St. Stevens Church in Nijmegen. You only have to follow the posts and you have all the time to think about life.

As my trail run ambitions developed,to walk this trip in one go does not seem to be a bridge too far anymore and I’m making plans in preparation. I will dedicate my Walk of Wisdom to Jaap, because in my experience he dances around there. I’ll be ready in a few weeks. I look forward to this day when I will have memories of the past 25 years around me on my longest journey ever. And when it’s heavy and tough I’ll think:

“Forward and don’t falter!” Jessie Jager

Jessie Jager

Groenlanden Ooijpolder Walk of Wisdom

Paul Spierings set out for a Walk of Wisdom with his partner Alberthe. He sent us some wonderful pictures of the first half.

Report pilgrim Walk of Wisdom
Report pilgrim Walk of Wisdom
The assistance dog Goof from Johann van Rossum

Johann van Rossum walked the Walk of Wisdom with his loyal dog Goof. Goof gently bites Johann in his hand when he is in danger of getting into a stress situation and wakes him up in case of a nightmare.

“First I had postponed the Walk because of the Four Days Marches (‘Vierdaagse’), then there was the processionary caterpillar, then a period of just rain (no fun to crawl into your tent with a wet-raining dog) and then now the second summer period with incomprehensible August temperatures. What the heck! I just go.

I went to Santiago de Compostela earlier this year with Goof. We have experienced quite a bit there together, which is why I reallywanted to walk the Walk of Wisdom. Trying to make up for the missed 80 kilometers of the Camino Primitivo. At the beginning of May Goof and I were attacked six kilometers outside of Lugo by two fighting dogs.

The Dogo Argentinos paralyzed my dog. I carried him six kilometers back to a vet in Lugo. Thanks to another pilgrim, a Finnish physiotherapist, serious and permanent damage was prevented. I sometimes still dream of the two large white dogs that attacked us.

On Thursday, August 22, I parked my car for the Walk of Wisdom in Lent at café Waalzicht on the northern side of the Waal. There it is parked safe and free. The parking rates in Nijmegen have acquired metropolitan allures! Going into the ‘Stevenkerk’ with my luggage sherpa and dog is an adventure in itself. Berg en Dal lives up to its name. What a hassle with the luggage cart on that route. Going to Kranenburg (Germany) I did that very late in the evening. Cafehaus Niederrhein is open very late to pick up my bird ring.

I mainly walked very early in the morning (5 a.m. to 10 a.m.) and late in the day (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.). Walked a few times at night. You occasionally miss a few addresses to pick up the bird rings, but Jan Heijmans made up for that in the ‘Stevenskerk’. Five days on the road, five enjoyable days.

And Goof … he was happy that he could lie down again on the cold floor in the hallway at home. He is very proud of his pilgrim lace with the rings of Berg en Dal, Kranenburg, Gennep, Mook and Middelaar, Heumen, Grave, Oss, Wijchen, Druten, Beuningen and Nijmegen. We have been on the road enough this year; it is also good to be at home. “

Johann has written a book about walking with an assistance dog. Camino Primitivo con perro appears mid-October. (In Dutch and German)

It’s a wrap. Just at the last moment of the new year. What a nice trip. The last monument on the dike, the ‘temple of the goddess’/ tempel van de riviergodin. And that summarizes how I feel. Goddess of the land of Waal, Maas, streams and forests. And goddess touched by the light of each and every season, because it took over a year to recover and rehabilitate from a major foot injury. Grateful for encounters with people, owls, hares, pheasants, herons, buzzards, mice and my loyal dog who certainly played more than half of it. Nice retrospect so impressive 2018. Rian Boons.

(pilgrim 1652)
Walk of Wisdom, Keent, Oerrunderen stichting Taurus door Ricardo Hernandez

Photographer Ricardo Hernandez went for a Walk of Wisdom in september 2018. All his pictures:

Walk of Wisdom, Keent, Oerrunderen stichting Taurus door Ricardo Hernandez

Walk of Wisdom, Keent, heritage cattle foundation Taurus by Ricardo Hernandez

Walk-of-Wisdom-2018-08-Ricardo Hernandez

Walk-of-Wisdom-2018-02-Ricardo Hernandez

Walk of Wisdom, Heumensoord

Hatertse Vennen door Mark SchildersOne of our loyal musicians at goodbye ceremonies Mark Schilders stayed for two days on the pilgrimage and made this aquarel.