The lake is home to various sailing, boating, rowing, and paddling clubs. Our neighbor is the Rotterdam Canoe Club, which seems to emphasize more racing and recreational paddling. Their member age distribution also seems to be skewed lower than that of Never Dry. But sea kayaking is my true love, and age has never played a big role in how I chose my kayaking friends :) Hopefully there will be ways to collaborate and get to know folks from both clubs!
History of Kralingse Plas in Rotterdam
The lake (which, like most Dutch water-features, is not natural) and 14 others were created by farming peat. The 17th century saw an increased demand for fuel in Rotterdam, resulting from the brick and gold pipe industries and population growth. The peat was a dense and readily available fuel source; they literally burned the ground out from under themselves (at other locations in the Netherlands the ground sunk because the marshes were drained, and then oxidized when exposed to air, or because of groundwater withdrawal).
Soon they found themselves surrounded by more and more water, with the lakes growing ever larger due to edge erosion (larger lake --> larger waves --> more erosion --> larger lake...) and less space to develop. Eventually, they even had to move the town of Kralingen to its current location because of the encroaching erosion.
On May 14th, 1940, the Germans bombed and destroyed the city center of Rotterdam. Only a church, post office, trade center, and town hall remained. That's why Rotterdam looks and feels so different compared to other cities in the Netherlands - the city was completely rebuilt, taking advantage of this opportunity to better plan the city (read more here - interesting connection to US cities). Some of the rubble excavated from the destroyed city center was deposited in the Kralingse Plas, creating the broad green stretch and islands along the south edge of the lake.
Two windmills stand on the east edge of the lake: De Lelie (The Lily, 1740) and De Ster (The Star, 1886), both of which are still used to grind spices. A beach lines the west side of the lake, with the northernmost corner a designated nude beach! I'll let you know how that goes in the summer (swimming opens May 1st).
Distance: ~8.6 km (5.3 miles)
Duration: ~1.5 hrs
Weather: Cool, breezy, impending rain, but it stayed dry!