The mudflats are on the Unesco World Heritage List. Photographer Hillebrand Breuker keeps photographing them. The right man, it seems, to ask about some tips and where to go when visiting the north of the Netherlands.
The Mudflats, five tips by…
The mudflats…well I really enjoy them. Calmness, tides, the weather, wind, birds, space and freedom. Freedom to wander on them when the tide is low. Wonderful. No trails, just open space with salt marshes and mud formed by the tide, wind and weather.
The Wadden Sea is on the Unesco World Heritage list. And that’s for a reason. It is a special area. A resting and nesting area for the millions of birds that recuperate during migration. It is also an important area for mammals such as seals and porpoises.
The Wadden Sea stretches roughly from the Isle of Texel in the Netherlands to Langli in Denmark. It is the largest continuous tidal area in the world. Nature can take its course undisturbed. And we can roam freely here. How that that sound?
On the mudflats area in the north, which in dutch we call the Wadden, nature dominates but we do find influences of man kind. Along the coast you can find old fishing villages underneath the dike. Many of these villages have been restored to their original state.
At some places you find memories of the harsh life of fishermen. I could give a hundred tips on this beautiful area, but in the five given to me, I will try to find a mix between nature and culture. Here are the mudflats, five tips by Hillebrand Breuker.
1. Go for a hike
It’s that simple. Drive to the Frisian and Groninger coast. Cross the dike and you’re on the Wad. The civilized world is behind you. Sometimes you can find trails, but often not. You can walk along the dike or a breakwater, but at low tide you can try to walk on a piece of the Wad.
Be careful because you can get stuck. It is sometimes difficult to get out again and you will not be the first to lose his boots or to fall over backwards in the mud. I myself I once walked in the middle of winter on my socks two kilometers back to the car because I had made the rookie mistake to put on boots when walking the mudflats.
2. Visit authentic villages
After a walk it is nice to visit authentic villages. In Wierum for example is a beautiful church and the village is also known as starting point for walking the mudflats at Engelsmanplaat. Paesens-moddergat is another village where you can taste the real Wadden atmosphere.
On the dike is a monument that commemorates the disaster of 1883 in which 83 fishermen died. The village also hosts an open-air fishing museum, t Fiskershúske. so worth a visit.
In the far north of Groningen you can find Noordpolderzijl. In earlier times about 10 vessels had Noordpolderzijl as their homeport. Today, the port is used as a dock for recreational boats and the harbor is also the starting point for mudflat walking.
3. Lekker eten
After walking is great to just enjoy a cup of coffee with cake, lunch or a delicious dinner. A small selection from the range: De Waard van Ternaard is a beautiful hotel restaurant. De Waard is located in an authentic inn from 1860. From outside it is completely in old style but the interior has been transformed into a surprising design hotel. The menu is excellent with much attention paid to fresh products from the region.
Theeschenkerij Yke Muoi Kofje and Teedrinkerij is in Paesens-Moddergat. You can go here for a cup of coffee or a tea with a delicious slice of Frisian orange cake.
Eatery, The Kalkman ‘in Wierum is a real village pub. You can enjoy the casual atmosphere with a cup of coffee, a beer or a a nice lunch.
Port of Lauwersoog
The Port of Lauwersoog is really worth a visit. From the port operates a ferry service to and from the isle of Schiermonnikoog. Before leaving or returning from this beautiful Wadden island it is fun to just stroll by the harbor and watch the fishing boats. There is always something to do. You might even see a seal swimming in the harbor. They hop by regularly. In the harbor is plenty of opportunity to eat. For example, a fine seafood restaurant is’ Visser-Vis.
If you happen to go to Noordpolderzijl it’s nice to visit ‘t Zielhoes after a good walk. This is nostalgic pub with a long history. It is housed in the former lock keeper’s house. The unique location is even an official wedding location.
4. Cross the border
The Wadden Sea is an elongated area and it runs all the way to the Danish Esbjerg. It’s a hugely varied area and every region has its own character. Denmark, for example, like the Netherlands and Germany has a number Wadden. A large number of those islands I have visited. One of the best islands to go to I think is the Danish Mandø.
Mandø is one of the smallest inhabited Wadden. It is located in south-west Jutland approximately near Ribe. You get there via a small road from the Danish coast. However, this road is only visible when it’s low tide.
If you want to go there you need to plan well. Especially when you want to go back again in time. Take ample time to drive on the road. Not because it’s so far, but mainly because the view is so beautiful. It’s really unique to be able to drive a car on the Wad.
Mando was first mentioned in 1231. It has a great history. The island has about 70 inhabitants. Previously, there were many more. Storms and floods mainly in the 16th century caused great damage. There is a century-old mill and a small church. This church dates from 1639. In the church there are four models of ships built by the people who actually rode those boats.
I regularly organize photography workshops on the Frisian mudflats. the groups are small so I can help everyone with objectives in the field of technology, creativity and composition. More information about the workshops can be found on my website Pixus.nl. You may also mail me for information.
Note: It is extremely unwise to go on the mudflats without any experience. Untrained or inexperienced muflat walkers I always recommend to make a nice trip under the guidance of an experienced guide.
Images: Hillebrand Breuker