A trip on the River Vechte of 19.3 km. from Schüttorf to Nordhorn. Only suitable for white water boats or canoes, as there are 5 rapids with stones.
- Kanu Verleih Nordhorn Klaus Blank. Tel: 05921-320267 GSM: 0162-9441959.
- Kanuerlebnistouren Hartmut Budde. Tel: 05921-38774 GSM: 0172-8086154.
On a sunny weekend in July 2010 I went with a friend to Nordhorn, just across the border in Germany. We had planned to kayak on Die Vechte, the upstream part of the Overijsselse Vecht in Germany. We were told it would be impossible to paddle upstream so we first went to Nordhorn to see how we could get the kayaks some 20 km upstream. Or how to take a bus or taxi back if we would drive our car to a starting place upstream. Just next to the city center there is a lake, Die Vechtesee, where the river goes through. We discovered there's plenty of free parking space and at the locks of the Verbindungskanal there is a kayak pier. But on the other side of the lake there was a lot more activity to be seen of people kayaking and paddling on canal bikes. So we went to the other side of the lake. There is a free parking place along the lake (same entrance as Hotel Riverside), and a large kayak pier. Here we met Klaus. Klaus is a specialist in outdoor activities and he rents canoes. He was just planning to bring some canoes to Schüttorf, 19 km upstream, the next day. He was willing to take our kayaks as well. So the next day at 10 a.m. we met again and put our kayaks on the trailer. On the way we unloaded some canoes for the group that would come here to rent them. After giving them instructions he brought us a few kilometers further upstream, to the bridge of the Nordring in Schüttorf. This is our starting point. There's no kayak pier, but at the low sides at the bridge it was easy to step in the kayaks. Further upstream there is a large weir and as the river is canalized, it's less interesting to kayak on. From Schüttorf downstream the river follows mainly its natural course and it is a beautiful piece of nature. Only a few bends have been cut off in the past.
We paddled nice and easy with the current downstream. After the bridge of highway 30 we came at a rapid. It was a rather short one and it was easy to see that the main flow is in the middle with no stones in it. So we passed it without difficulty. At the next rapid the main stream makes some bends and it is difficult to see how hard it will be. With a rented canoe you can pass it without difficulty, but I was afraid to damage my polyester sea-kayak so I decided to take it out and carry it passed the rapid. My friend took his chances, but soon he missed a turn in the current and hit a stone. His kayak turned with the current and he could not avoid turning over. In the exitement he lost his paddle and his left sandal. The paddle could be recovered a little further downstream, but we didn't find the sandal. But lucky enough we found a shoe on the side. It was the right size, and it was a left one. So with a shoe on one foot and a sandal on the other we continued.
At the next rapids I carried my kayak passed it, but my friend decided to paddle across it (he was wet already anyway). Then he capsized again. This time I also had to go in to rescue the kayak. It had sunk and the current pushed it against stones. It was nice to cool off a bit in the river, as it was a rather warm day. Together we managed to get the kayak back to the surface without breaking it.
After a while we came at a big weir. Fortunately there is a canoe gutter. Brushes on the bottom keep the current in the middle, so it is really easy to go down. Of course you can also carry the kayak passed it. We expected this would be the last obstacle before we would reach Nordhorn. But after a short distance there was another rapid, the last one. Then the river becomes a little wider and deeper, and there is no visible current any more. So the final stretch to the Vechtesee in Nordhorn is really easy. On the right side is a large kayak pier near Hotel Riverside. On the other side of the lake the river continues passed Nordhorn. The river splits, but at both arms you come at a weir and it's not possible to carry the kayak passed it. Near the lake you can either turn left to navigate to the border and to Almelo (14 portages) or turn right passed the locks on the Verbindungskanal.
We had a very beuatiful day, but the next time we'll rent a canoe from Klaus.
- Nordhorn Wasserstadt.
- More information about the Canal Almelo-Nordhorn is to be found on the website of Kanoleut, tha kayak club of Almelo (in Dutch).
- Every year in June a tour from Almelo to Nordhorn is organized.
Klaus gives instructions.
Canoe gutter for a safe passage of the weir.
Playboats at the lake Vechte (Vechte See).
The toll-house, or what's left of it at the border along the Kanaal Almelo Nordhorn. The nearby Fensdorp locks are open. Portage at the border is difficult because of the blackberry bushes on the Dutch side.