Noorder IJdijk, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Oranjesluizen Amsterdam Reviews
Passing on top of the gates Jun 27, 2015
In the early 1980's I 've been in the Oranjesluizen many times on my sailing trips. I've seen people looking down on the ships, but never did so myself. Until this year when I got the idea for a bicycle trip to Muiden, where I had two options for a route: use the bridge or walk the gates of the locks. Ofcourse I choose the locks, this would be a wonderful opportunity to look at the entire lock system from north to south.
The locks were built at the same time as the Noordzeekanaal (in the 1860's and 1870's) and thus form a border between the waters of Binnen- and Buiten IJ, to keep the water at the necessary levels and at the same time preventing the IJsselmeer to get too much saline from the water of the Noordzeekanaal. I found my way to the first three locks at the north side, by the Noorder IJdijk at Schellingwoude. These three had to handle all the traffic (commercial and recreational) by the ships until 1995, when the new big lock at the south side of the complex was opened. This was necessary because of the increasing recreational boating which caused dangerous situations. Now the new lock was in use the three older locks were radically renovated and modernized. The locks are managed by Rijkswaterstaat. The operation is done by two operation-buildings, one on the northside, the other on the southside at the new lock. Every year about 120.000 ships pass the locks.
The chambers of the three older ones are 14 x 67 meters (2 locks) and 18 x 90 meters. After passing these, by walking on top of the gates, the bicycle path continues, however not far because the big lock is soon there to block your way. This particular one has a chamber of 24 x 200 meters, so it is suitable for large commercial trading vessels. While the three older locks has rather small gates that opens like an ordinary door the new lock has a broad sliding-gate. Part of the complex are also two fish-ladders enabling fish to pass this barrier.
The passage by the gates is only accessable when the gates are closed ofcourse, the path is barred when the gates are open to prevent accidents. Also traffic lights indicates when it is safe to pass. If you are lucky you will find all the gates closed on your passage, but it also might happen that these 400 meters takes up to 30 minutes of your time. It happened to me I had to wait over 15 minutes before passing the big southern lock because a large ship (90 meters long, 11,5 meters wide) was on its way to use the lock. I did not mind at all because the sun was shining and I enjoyed the view across the water. When I finally passed this last barrier I was at the Zuider IJdijk where I continued my bicycle trip.
Part of the Picturesque Amsterdam travel blog
Part of the list Free things to do in the Netherlands
Part of the list Waterworks
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