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©: Bauke Folkertsma
Good wine needs no bush. That also applies to Gaasterland, a unique part of the Netherlands. The slightly sloping landscape shows an unprecedented variation: meadows, fields, forest, heathland, reed lands, swamp, water, low-lying diked polders, and high-lying ’gaast’ and cliffs. Centuries ago the area ’between Mar and Klif’ (the Frisian lakes and the cliffs along the IJsselmeer) was in demand as a residential area for the nobility. And when tourism started to rise very slowly in the second half of the nineteenth century, it was not for nothing that Gaasterland was one of the first areas to benefit from it. For very many people, the area name has a magical sound that evokes memories of the holidays they have spent there. The long tourist tradition also means that the area is completely geared to tourism. Nevertheless, Gaasterland has fully retained its authenticity.
Staatsbosbeheer, Natuurmonumenten and It Fryske Gea manage a large number of different areas in Gaasterland that deserve protection because of their natural and / or landscape value: forests, heaths, cliffs, polders and areas outside the dikes. There are too many to list, and naming a few would be detrimental to the other areas. Hence: take a look at the websites of these organizations and discover the wide variety of nature and landscapes. Once you are in the area, we heartily recommend a visit to the "Mar en Klif" regional information center. The center is located in the beautiful green village of Oudemirdum and offers a wealth of information about the nature, history, and culture of Gaasterland.
The area can be discovered in many different ways. By bicycle, on foot, on horseback, by motorcycle or in the car; on "Route Zuidwest Friesland" you can indicate what you want and then choose from routes that meet your wishes. A network of nodes has also been developed especially for cyclists, on the basis of which you can compile your own route.
The picturesque river Luts, the Van Swinderenvaart, the Spokershoekvaart, and the Rijstervaart are suitable for small water sports. Together they form the route of the Elfstedentocht that runs through Gaasterland and connects the Slotermeer and Fluessen. The route leads via a small lake that was created by excavating sand for the construction of the N359. Today it is part of the Wyldemerk nature reserve, which was declared the first dragonfly reserve in the Netherlands in 2007.
The tranquility of today contrasts sharply with the history of the location, which also explains the name (’Wilde Markt’). The story is that here a long time ago a (wild) pagan celebration was held here to say goodbye to the summer. It is certainly that later, until the end of the nineteenth century, it was the location for an annual fair and playground, where it often went wild...
From 1954 to 1969 there was a barracks camp for Islamic Moluccans in the area. The mosque built there was the second in the Netherlands. Southeast of Wyldemerk is a beautiful 9-hole natural golf course. Due to the special attention to nature in both construction and management, the course was the first in Europe to receive a so-called ’Green label’.
Playing farmer’s golf is also an option, for example at De Bûterkamp Ice Farm in Oudemirdum. Excursions are also organized there and, as the name implies, traditional ice cream is made and sold. If you want to know (almost) everything about cows after eating that ice cream, you can visit the "Koeienmuseum" in Nijemirdum. Another museum with a special theme is the "Scheermuseum" in Bakhuizen.
You have a beautiful view over the Gaasterland landscape from the air watchtower that was built in the time of the Cold War west of Oudemirdum, on the highest point of Gaasterland. It is a bit of a climb, but then you also have something! You can of course also simply lie on the beach oin the shores of the IJsselmeer, for example at "De Hege Gerzen".
A description of an area such as Gaasterland is of course never complete; there is just too much to see, do, and experience. There is only one solution for the problem: discover the area yourself! You are more than welcome.