When you have never visited Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, there is probably already enough to see for the visitor in the palace itself and in the gardens. But otherwise I highly recommend the about one hour “Oranjewandeling” (orange walk) through the park behind the gardens. For years visitors of the palace couldn’t get any further than the colonnades at the end of the gardens, and from up there have a look at the park. Of course you could enter the park from the parking place of the palace, but somehow it never occured to me all these years that I could do that. I only once got into the park in Spring a few years ago when the park around Castle Het Oude Loo is open. Since this year however you can enter the park via a gate in the back of the gardens (so don’t loose your entrance card to the palace!). The barcode scanner is not always working easily, but in the end you’ll make it. Then you just have to follow the orange route.The park is open until 31 October this year.
The park changed into a beautiful and romantic English landscape park in the early 19th century. The first interesting building we met was the bath pavillion, built in the times of King Willem III of the Netherlands, who loved swimming. The Dutch royal family still uses it sometimes. In front of it is a huge pond with an island in the middle. After a short walk you’ll reach a bridge, built in the times of King Willem I of the Netherlands. Early 20th century the two lions were transfered from Het Oude Loo to this bridge, which is since then known as the Lion’s Bridge.
You just walk around the pond and finally reach a small boat house, a favourite place of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. Via another bridge you reach the tea pavillion, also built during the reign of King Willem III. Luckily for us we had just reached it when it started raining, although just for a short time. Lots of fuchsias and a great view on the pond from here.
The blue boat house from the early 19th century is situated next to a fish pond. A bit further you’ve already almost reached the end of the walk. Here is the most recent addition, a bridge designed by artist Peter Struycken (who doesn’t know him, might well know his brother, actor Carel Struycken, Lurch from The Addams Family). From here you can see Palace Het Loo again.
At the end of the route is an Art Nouveau memorial, a wedding present from Dutch students to Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik upon their marriage in 1901.
If you have time and the weather is nice enough, the walk is very recommendable. Easy to walk, lots to see, beautiful nature. Just be aware of the very tiny toads that cross the paths, and of all the geese.