Lying in the Hagh Valley, three miles from Amsterdam is the small village of Crunt. It’s an astonishing non-descript place. There are no hotels, only one shop, a lone church and village hall. Yet despite the bland description, Thomas Cock rates this village the dullest in all Europe, visitors flock here in their dozens,, sometimes hundreds, to view the petrified monks.
One of Holland’s, if not the entire Netherlands, most prominent features, apart from the imposing Borsten mountain range, is of course the natural springs. These springs emanate from underground reservoirs and in recent years, as the spelunking craze has taken off, giant caves have been discovered containing Europe’s most stunning geological formations.
Entering Crunt from the south, follow the well sign-posted directions to the Crunt Caves. The cave entrance is quite narrow and some may find it quite a tight-squeeze to enter, but it’s worth the struggle.
One cannot feel more than a little overwhelmed by the enormous erections that meet your eye, formed by years of dripping liquid creating huge stalagmites and stalactites, some as high as three feet. The watery emissions drip into the Crunt Caves, penetrating the surface and forcing their way down, taking with them minerals that form the stone architecture for which Crunt is famous.
Our tour guide, Fanny, has taken the time to name some of these impressive geological formations, mainly after parts of the male anatomy. This makes for a childlike if not fairly amusing 10 minutes listening to her quite vivid descriptions. Fanny then tells us she is still single and the stone protrusions give her much pleasure in life.
Mood lighting gives the cave an ethereal feel and the eye cannot help but be drawn to the central feature of the cave, eight huge formations known as the petrified monks.
The largest of the monks is known in Dutch as the Ezel Pik.
Ezel Pik, features in many urban myths as a Casanova figure in the late 18th Century. His romantic conquests are legendary and his fame as a great swordsman has spawned many books and specialist magazines especially popular with teenage boys.
Ezel Pik and his friends stand as a reminder to greatness of nature and the perseverance of the waters that penetrate the Crunt caves.
Standing looking at these huge tumescent growths, one cannot help but be humbled.
Crunt is open all year round and can be entered without prior permission. Like most things in Holland it has easy access. For more info visit www.wetcruntcave.nl