A trip on the river Dommel from Halder (near Vught) to Den Bosch and back 12 km.
No kayak rentals.
Usually there is very little current on the river (2 km/h or less), but at rainy periods there can be a lot more current. So plan your trip when there has not been much rainfall. On the Dommel you really can enjoy the quietness and the nature as at most places there is no road nearby the river.
Entering the canals of the inner city is prohibited, and not without danger. From late April till the end of October you can see the canals by taking a tour on a sight-seeing boat. Almost half of the canals are underground, they are narrow and they are very very dark.
To the starting point Halder near Vught:Exit highway A2 at exit 24 Vught. Head east towards St. Michielsgestel. After 1 km you turn left to Halder (there's no sign indicating Halder). There are only a few houses. You find a long pier with many small boats, but there's also a kayak pier. At the other side of the river you see castle Herlaer. At normal water level the sides are rather low so it is easy to get into the kayak here.
To Den Bosch:From Halder you can reach the weir at Den Bosch in about 45 minutes. Just outside Halder the Esschestroom joins the Dommel. After the bridge of highway A2 there is a kayak-pier on your right at a pumping station. There is no access to the water after the pumping station however. In Den Bosch you come at a self service foot-ferry. To the left is a weir with a kayak-gutter. I would advise not to use it. It's only for the brave who are used to do stunts with playboats. There is a low side where you can go out. On the other side of the weir is a kayak pier. From the foot-ferry you can go straigt on passing the old walls of the city center. At km 8.1 you come at the locks. As often on locks, there is a sign saying "no access". But somehow I have a feeling this is meant for entering the narrow canals of the city center. Any way, I drove (and paddled) a long way to get this far so the sign was not going to stop me. It was well before the sightseeing boat season, so there would be no other boats on the water. I took the necessary precautions: 2 waterproof flashlights attached to the kayak, life-jacket and a whistle. I passed the locks and I went straight on on the Groote Stroom. After a short distance there were construction works, so I had to turn back. Then I went into the narrow canal to the left. Most of the canals are underground so after a few long bridges I entered complete darkness. I figured if I would keep turning left I would end up somewhere, and hopefully the place where I came in. But this was not the case. After some time I noticed that I passed a place where I had been before. When there was an opportunity I turned back and when I returned into a very dark tunnel I noticed I had missed a side canal (later I found out this canal is named Hellegat, meaning gate to hell). So I should have turned right in stead of left. When I had figured this out it was easy to find my way out. It was a very special experience. You really enter the dungeons of the city. There are no rats any more, and the water is clean. Very special is the complete silence. If you paddle very quietly at some places you can hear the footsteps of people walking across a lid above you.
GPS Halder: Lat. 51.6496 Lon. 5.3228
On the river Dommel near Den Bosch.
Weir in the Dommel at Den Bosch with a gutter for kayaks.
Portage at the weir. In the background the self-service foot-ferry across the Dommel.
The Groote Stroom.
The Verwersstroom, part of the Binnendieze.