Capper Nomads Europe Adventure Part 2 travel blog


























Today we headed 10 miles north into the Netherlands to the small town of Valkenburg. While Tony was paying for parking, Heather got a phone call from her sister to say she had been called into the hospital as Mum was very poorly overnight with not only a chest infection but had sepsis. It was unclear what would happen. We nearly returned to the motorhome, but decided there was nothing we could do at the moment so we would enjoy our day.

We first explored the old town, walking the old streets which were dominated by row upon row of restaurants and cafes. We climbed the original bell tower which give views of the town before heading to the castle which dominates a plateau above the town.

Our first port of call at the castle was to join a tour(in Dutch!) of the Velvet Cave a network of passages below the castle which dated back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Marl was mined from the cave by block breakers for use as a building stone in the construction of edifices like Valkenburg Castle. The result of this marlstone mining is an extensive labyrinth of old and rugged passageways going on for miles.

In times of siege, the secret passageways, which were only discovered in 1937, allowed the knights and their footmen to escape the castle and attack the enemy from behind or secretly bring supplies in. One legend tells of the Brabanders (natives of Brabant) who, laying siege to Valkenburg, could not understand why celebrations were still being held inside the castle walls even after a long period of siege. Little did they know that the troops inside were being supplied via the secret passageways… from Brabant, where the siege armies would soon discover that their lands had been plundered in their absence!

The Velvet Cave had other secrets we discovered on the tour. There was an impressive treasure trove of wall murals, inscriptions, strange sculptures in the soft marlstone walls and a romantic chapel dating from the 18th century.

In World War II, during the German occupation, the cave served as a hideout for resistance fighters and also to hide escaping POW. When Allied soldiers approached Valkenburg in September 1944 there were several days of shooting, with the result that when the allies entered the town on 14 September it was deserted; everyone had fled into the caves.

After exploring the caves we then explored the castle which had become a ruin in the 17th century. Again great views across the town. After a drink we headed back to base as it was too cold to explore any further.

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