At Pannerden, the Rhine splits into the Pannerdensch Canal, which changes into the Nederrijn and the Waal 6 kilometers away. The Waal is 82 kilometers long and is the most water-rich arm of the Rhine in the Netherlands and also the most important for shipping. The Waal changes from its former confluence with the Maas at Woudrichem into the Merwede and then flows to the North Sea via various routes . Most of the water flows through the Nieuwe Merwede into the Hollandsch Diep.
In a natural river many shallows, sandbanks and islands occur, which is unfavorable for shipping at low water levels. Groynes have the task of keeping the river at depth. Groynes on both sides of the river narrow the gully, the water flows faster and the river deepens. Thanks to the groynes, trade across the Waal can largely continue even in dry times. But because the river channel is kept exactly in place, at depth and at the correct flow rate, much of the natural variation along the river has disappeared. In recent decades there has been a growing call to allow more natural dynamics along the river and thus to have watercourses of different depth and with variation in flow speed. This provides room for more plant and animal species in the floodplains.
The historic fortresses Loevestein, Fort Vuren, Gorinchem and Woudrichem are interconnected by an ancient shared history, their location on the river and by a pedestrian / bicycle ferry. Together they share 600 years of history and form the final piece of one of the most beautifully preserved defense lines in the Netherlands; the New Dutch Waterline .