Friesland, in the north of the Netherlands, is a flat and open country. Meadows, scattered farms, ancient villages, and the sea. Walking on a dike you stick out high above this land and the sea and you will enjoy great views. The Friese Kustpad - Frisian Coast Path - runs for a large part on these dikes, which makes it a special path. Typical Dutch.
Friese Kustpad, Netherlands | Rate 7
PositiveThere is a lot to see, all sorts of small things, small houses, empty villages. The shifting patterns of pasture and farmland. And a lot of sea, gulls, geese, sheep.
NegativeOften, the trail uses roads. It's almost impossible to avoid roads. Landowners don't - as a rule - allow you on their land, so the path must take the public road, and this road is asphalted.
North Sea Trail, Netherlands
- When March 2009
- Distance walked 21 km (~13.0 miles)
- Days walked 1 days
- Part walked Holwerd - Lauwersoog
The Friese Kustpad is a marked path along the coast of the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. It is a part of the Northsea Trail, and also of the E9. The total length is 131 km.
Our stretch for today counts 21 kilometers and takes us from Holwerd to Lauwersoog. We will be following the huge sea dike, and most of the time we will even walk right on top of it. This means we will tramp on its grass cover and chase the thousands of the geese feeding on it. On one hand is the sea, on the other the country.
A dike is a high and elongated earthen body winding through the landscape as a green ribbon, mostly on the edge of land and water, but also often in the middle of the country. A dike could be some 10 meters high, or more.
The side facing towards the sea is artfully constructed with stones, bitumen, and other materials, to ensure the waves have no grip on it. The side facing the land is where people live peacefully, assured that they will be safe forever.
The farmer in the country is not worried. Any surplus of water is pumped into the sea.
This sea here in the north is a shallow lagoon. Ten to twenty kilometers off the coastline, lies a string of islands that keeps the wild sea out. When the wind is west, the water is piled up high, but when the wind is east, the sea almost runs empty.
The sea drops all kind of things on its shoreline. Shells and round stones for example.
And the sea also leaves sludge behind. Every day at high tide, a thin film is deposited on the tidal marsh. After years and years, new land is created. Sometimes the process is reversed, when a storm batters the coast and crumbles the land to pieces. It has been like that for centuries and centuries.
This gull's life has come to an end. No one looking up to him any more.
In this time of year, tens of thousands of geese graze in the fields and on the dikes. They take flight in large numbers before our eyes, producing a loud chatter.
It's a pretty sight to see these tender geese glide through the air. In the distance, the church tower of Wierum appears.
The steeple of Wierum dates from the 12th century. Friesland has many ancient churches, which through the centuries are well preserved. At that time the country was not so well protected by dikes. Floods were normal, and sometimes the damage was enormous. Whole land areas and even villages were lost in the waves.
The village counts many small houses. The real estate boom has never got a foothold here, and the current real estate crisis either. Nothing changed really.
Again the church. Nave and transept are fairly new (probably 19th century). Watch the beautiful tower and porch, as if someone has sculpted these from clay.
Around the church is a large collection of graves, which tell the history of this village and its inhabitants.
Everywhere geese. Here a group of Brent Geese. These animals no longer fly to the Arctic in summer. They stay and nest in the Netherlands, where there's plenty of food.
Once Moddergat - "Mud hole" - was a fishing village. But in 1887, 17 boats were lost at sea with 83 men aboard. The fishing community never recovered this drama.
The old fishermen's cottages are neatly lined up. Nowadays, they are popular for housing, and they will probably remain so for centuries to come.
Not much life in these villages. The residents are trying their best to sell you something. Although probably not worth a detour, some offers are too good not to try.
The dike again
"The sea gives and the sea takes". Here, land was created by decades of siltation, vegetation and sand deposit. Today it is dry and we can walk here. A few times every year, the land is inundated. In the past, people would build a new dike around it, and new land was born.
The gates on the dike keep the sheep together. In winter they are in their sheds, but in one month lambs will be playing here.
A flock of Barnacle Geese, impressive birds. This type of geese increasingly breed their young in the Netherlands.
The sun is doing us a favor. We now walk on the seaside of the dike, almost stumbling over a hare, and our walk is almost over.
We have been observed from above all day.