Voerman Footpath

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As an ode to the well-known Hattem painter of the river IJssel

An ode to the well-known Hattem painter of the IJssel Jan Voerman senior, that is what the Voerman footpath stands for. It is a walking route along the river IJssel in Zwolle. Initiator of this path is Wim Eikelboom and with this footpath he brilliantly managed to make his passion for the river, the IJssel landscape and the art of painting coincide.

As part of the project ‘’Space for the River’’ the floodplains of Schelle and Oldeneel were heavily overhauled around 2015. In the plans for a new nature area a footpath was sketched. A detailed plan, however, was missing and it was Eikelboom who took that in hand. “I live in Zwolle myself, but my father is a Hattem native. In this way we build a bridge between the two towns.’’

Wim Eikelboom is fan of the paintings of Jan Voerman senior (1857-1941). ‘’With his brush he could capture the stunning clouds along the IJssel in a magnificent way. From the Zwolle side of the river IJssel the Voerman-landscape can be truly undergone when you walk along the river.’’ As an ode to Voerman, Eikelboom wanted to name a path after him on which the Voerman-skies could be experienced together with the Hattem skyline. To reinforce that effect a life-size picture frame has been installed, with - for its cut-out - a view on Hattem, the clouds and the river.

The walking route is some 3.5 kilometres long and passes the great outdoors of the floodplains of Schelle and Oldeneel. It has been marked by wooden signposts with a specially designed logo. On the route there is a true foot ferry ‘t Schellerveertje. This self-service ferry works on solar energy and is operational between April and October. ‘’The ferry is out of use in winter, unfortunately, but that is due to the risk of high water.’’ Wim Eikelboom came up with an IJssel poem. This poem has been inscribed on a plaque on a piece of wreckage of the old railway bridge across the IJssel which was replaced by the Hanzeboog in 2011. There is also a special podcast in Dutch with the title Wandelen in de Wolken. Radio legend Peter van Bruggen is the narrator and he immerses his listeners in the life and work of Voer↵man. It can be listened to during the walk with the help of a qr-code.

There are plans to make Hattem part of this walking route. ‘’There is already a kind of path which is used by, among others, fishermen. In the plans for Hoenwaard 2030 the Voerman footpath has been incorporated. The expectations are positive, but I dare not say when this will be realized. I would also like to see the new path leading to Hattem harbour and from there to the Voerman museum in the centre. There are but few possibilities for walking along the IJssel and that is precisely the reason why the Voerman Footpath is so valuable.’’