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The southwestern tip of the Frisian mainland is an intriguing region. By the car, it is an area hard to reach. And the Sneek - Stavoren train also doesn’t carry large crowds of people either. It is therefore a beautiful, tranquil area. The soothing peace of today stands in stark contrast to the turbulent and busy past.

Already in 991 Stavoren was looted by the Normans. Apparently it was already a prosperous, rich city at that time. Thanks to its strategic location on the Zuiderzee, Stavoren had even become the most important city in Friesland in the thirteenth century. When the Dutch count Willem IV wanted to conquer Stavoren in 1345, he ordered a part of his fleet to land north of the town. The rest of the army landed at Laaksum and would advance to Stavoren via Warns. The battle that ensued later became famous as the Battle of Warns, which ended in a miserable defeat for the Dutch and the death of Count Willem. The road from Scharl to Warns, along which the Dutch knights faced their demise, was called ’the ferkearde wei’ (the wrong way) until well into the twentieth century and is still popularly referred to this among the locals. At the monument on the Red Cliff a boulder with the text "Leaver dea as slave" (rather dead than slave), the battle is commemorated every year on the last Saturday of September.

Stavoren experienced periods of great wealth, but also of decline and downturn. The latter is the subject of the beautiful saga of "het Vrouwtje van Stavoren". (the lady of Stavoren) At the old harbor there is a statue of this haughty, rich widow who, as the story goes, has the origins of the Women’s Sands on her conscience: a shallow area off the coast that hindered shipping and would, therefore, be the cause of the decline of the town.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Stavoren was little more than a minor fishing village. A new impulse was the rail connection with Sneek (1885) and especially the ferry service at Enkhuizen, which started a year later. In 1888 a collision took place between the two steamboats "Friesland" and "Holland". This time ’victory’ was for Holland: the "Friesland" miserably disappeared into the waves. In 1899, the first of three steam ferries were put into operation onto which train wagons could be driven. In 1916, a peak year for the ferries, no fewer than 340,000 passengers and 43,000 freight cars were transported.

Nowadays Stavoren is a dormant, beautiful IJsselmeer town that comes alive especially in the summer thanks to water sports tourism. But also for non-boat people, the town is more attractive. Taste the unique atmosphere while walking. Come and visit Atelier Basalt, Kunsthuis Stavoren or Galerie De Staverse Jol. Or take a look at Toankamer ’t Ponthûs. And if you still want to get on the water, make a crossing to Enkhuizen with the current tourist ferry service. Also, the neighbouring Molkwerum and Warns used to be prosperous places thanks to trade and shipping. Because of the "islands" on which it was built, Molkwerum was long known as the ’Frisian Maze’ or ’Venice of the North’. Another nickname was "Heksenhol", which refers to the women whose men often stayed at sea for a long time. The village was known for trade in swan-brine meat and had its own representation in Amsterdam. Since 1916, the famous Molkwarder Koeke has been made in the village, a specific Frisian delicacy. Nowadays there is an Antiquity room with a tea-house in the original bakery Warns still has a number of so-called ’big skipper houses’. Nowadays, it is mainly pleasure boaters who have the village as their home port. There are various tourist accommodation options and a number of studios and galleries.

Besides the rich and turbulent history and the current tourist facilities, the area is also, and perhaps especially, worth a visit because of the beautiful landscape, nature and tranquility. The high-lying Red Cliff, the picturesque harbor of Laaksum, the low-lying Sudermarpolder, the former sea dike, the Mokkebank nature reserves and the "Bocht van Molkwar" and the vast IJsselmeer, which the locals still call "the See" for good reason. All that forms the beautiful backdrop in which you can enjoy a wonderful time.

The area south of Dokkum is known as the Dokkumer Wâlden (Woodlands). Here is a sandy ridge on which a unique landscape has developed over the centuries. Characteristic are the alder-lanes that form the separation between the plots. The wide-open landscape of the sea clay area north of Dokkum makes way for a semi-closed, so-called coulisses-landscape.

The alternation between open areas, alder-lanes and small pieces of woodlands provides the area with its unique own charm. It is obvious that it is designated as part of the Dutch National Landscape "De Noordelijke Friese Wouden"

The area was inhabited on the higher sand ridge as early as 4000 BC. However, due to rising sea levels, the area changed over the centuries into an inaccessible bog area. From around the year 1100 the area was developed from the northern sea clay area. Across the north-south oriented subdivision, a series of villages emerged on the original sand ridge: Driesum, Wouterswoude, Dantumawoude, Murmerwoude, Akkerwoude, and Rinsumageest. The last three were merged in 1971 into the village of Damwoude. ’Dam’ is constructed of the three initial letters of the original villages.

The Dokkumer Wâlden is a paradise for everyone who loves peace, nature and landscape beauty. Nevertheless, all facilities for a pleasant stay are present. The area also has a lot to offer in terms of cultural history: medieval churches, windmills, the nearby fortified town of Dokkum, the Cihorei Museum De Sûkerei, etc. The Dokkumer Wâlden are ideal for exploring by bike or on foot. Canoe enthusiasts can visit the Valomstervaart, which forms the southern boundary of the area and provides access to the peat area west of the De Dokkumer Wâlden.

The "separation" (in Frisian "Skieding") is the appropriate name for the road that runs from Surhuisterveen to the south. This road forms the provincial border between the provinces of Groningen and Friesland. The landscape on both sides is the result of peat and heathland reclamation. The dense pattern of small roads, the large number of scattered buildings along those roads and the typical wooded banks and alder lanes give the area a small-scale, private character. The plots are generally elongated; only around the heath villages Boelenslaan and Houtigehage is the allotment more block-shaped.

The villages in the area are relatively young and because of their history as peat excavation villages they often have no clearly visible and recognizable core. Drachten, which has since become the second-largest town in Friesland, did not exist as such until well into the seventeenth century. The impetus for growth was formed by the contract that the so-called "Drachtster Compagnons" signed in 1641 to excavate the bog north and east of the current city center.

The fact that this is a border area is evident from the fact that a large proportion of the inhabitants of the, formally Groninger village of Opende are actually Frisian. In addition to the cultural aspect, both provinces also "merge" in landscape terms. This also applies to the border area south of the A7 highway. There are Frieschepalen and De Wilp, among others, villages whose "outskirts" lie in the neighboring province.

The area around the Skieding offers a friendly, characteristic and varied landscape. It is perfect for exploring by bike or on foot. In good weather, Strandheem is a wonderful destination: a recreational lake where you can swim, surf and lie on the beach. And if shopping or attending theatre or concerts is more of your "cup of tea"? Drachten is just next door!

For many, Harlingen is the most beautiful of the Frisian "Elfsteden" (eleven cities). Of course, you should not argue about taste, but the city of ’Ouwe Seunen’ (the nickname of Harlingen) has something the other ten cities don’t have: the unique atmosphere of a real seaport city. Harlingen is a lively, bustling city during the water sports season. But also in the winter, the various ports ensure "life in the brewery".

The first port was already built around 1500. Thanks to the flourishing trade and shipping, the city grew explosively in the second half of the sixteenth century. When the Frisian Admiralty was moved from Dokkum to Harlingen in 1645, the city also became a naval port at that time.

The rich past can be seen in the more than 500 (!) Monumental builings in the city. One of them, the Hannemahuis, houses the municipal museum, where the history of the city comes to life in a fascinating way. You can get different city walks here. Another interesting museum is the Harlinger Aardewerkmuseum, located at the Zoutsloot canal. This picturesque canal is in the winter the scenic backdrop for a Christmas market that has become one of the most original and atmospheric in the Netherlands. Two other annual events that are worth a visit are the so-called ’Lanenkaatsen’ (third week of June) and the Harlinger-Visserijdagen (fishing days) end of August. We would like to refer art lovers to ’Art on the coast’

The contrast between the lively Harlingen and the surrounding area is great. The peace and quiet in the western part of the ’Bouhoeke’, the agricultural area north of the Harlingen - Leeuwarden line is only occasionally disturbed by the sound of agricultural machines. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, a steam train was also regularly heard: the Stiens-Harlingen railway line of the Noord-Friesche Lokaalspoorweg Maatschappij ran through the area. The State Railways had already opened the Harlingen-Leeuwarden line in 1863, the first railway line in Friesland.

The names of all the villages in this region end with -um, which is derived from Germanic "heem", which means ’place of residence’ and is still reported in Frisian in the word "hiem". In this area, which was not protected against the sea until well after the beginning of the Christian era, these residences were necessarily placed on artificial elevations in the salt marsh landscape: so-called terpen. These residential manmade mounds were often erected on existing natural elevations in the landscape, the salt marshes. A famous mound is that of Wijnaldum. Special archaeological finds have been made here in the past. A visit to the archaeological information center is worthwhile.

The construction of dikes began around 1000. One of them is the Slachtedyk, which is more than 42 kilometers long. In 2000, the dike was the route for the Slachtemarathon for the first time, which has since been organized every four years. But you don’t have to wait until the next edition: the dike is freely accessible. And when you set off on your own, you experience the beautiful landscape, the peace, and quiet all the more! And of course, you may also walk a small part of the route ...

The current monumental seadike also has an irresistible attraction for many. When the weather is nice, the view over the Waddensea in front and the land behind is truly magical! And with ’rough’ weather, when the function of the dike is palpable and visible, you can almost be ’blown away’ literally and figuratively. There are so-called ’dyksputten’ here and there on the inside of the dike, which combined forms the Bjirmen nature reserve.

The history of the area is explained in a clear and expressive way on the village site of Sexbierum. But not before the intriguing name of the village has been addressed ... Because of the presence of quite a few monumental farms and stately homes of notables, Sexbierum and the neighboring Pietersbierum exude a certain grandeur.

It will be clear: Harlingen is more than just the place where the boat to and from Vlieland or Terschelling departs and arrives and the surroundings will pleasantly surprise you. Take a few days to explore the monumental, cozy city and the beautiful, relaxing environment. Three unique accommodation options ensure the ’ultimate harbor feeling’. You can if you want, sleep in a harbor crane, a lighthouse or a lifeboat. What else do you want!

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.

"Hier op `e wadden, wereld fan water en slik, won hij lând út see in weer en wyn, skep foor skep, monnikewerk". ("Here on the wadden, world of water and mud, he won land from see in weather and wind, shovel by shovel, monk work".

) This text on the monument "De Slikwerker", which is on the dyke at Zwarte Haan, typifies the history of this special area in Friesland. It is only relatively recently that the water of the Middle Sea flowed here. From the sixteenth century, It Bildt was conquered bit by bit on the sea. The successive embankments are clearly recognizable in the wide landscape, which is dominated by old, less old and new dikes. In between, from the drawing board, a very regular landscape has been plotted with straight and perpendicular roads and waterways.

The impoldering of the Middelzee provided the Frisian residents with help from large numbers of mud workers from Zeeland and South Holland, among others. Many of them continued to live in the area and mixed with the locals. This has created a language of its own, the Bildts. The influence from Holland is also evident from the earlier names for Sint Jacobiparochie, Sint Annaparochie and Vrouwenparochie: Wijngaarden, Altoenae, and Kijfhoek, three (former) villages near Rotterdam.

A very characteristic building pattern has arisen along the Oudebildtdijk (from 1505) and the Nieuwebildtdijk (from 1600). On the north side, against and on the dike, the workers’ houses and to the south of the dike, behind the dike ditch, are the often monumental farms of the weathy farmers who owned the new land at the time. In some places, the ribbon development has grown further into a village. Including the villages Westhoek and Oude Bildtzijl, along the Oudebildtdijk is the longest, more or less closed development ribbon in the Netherlands (11.5 kilometers).

Het Bildt, therefore, has a rich cultural history. But nature lovers can also indulge themselves, especially behind the current sea dike. There lies the Noarderleech. Originally this area would also be reclaimed for agriculture; low dikes (summer dikes) had already been installed. At the insistence of nature organizations, the sea now has more room and the summer polders are gradually being transformed into salt marshes.

Tranquility, space, beautiful views, spectacular cloudy skies, culture, and nature .... The Bildt has a lot to offer! It is not without reason that the most famous Dutch painter, Rembrandt van Rijn, also visited Bildt. There he met Saskia van Uylenburgh, whom he married in 1634 in the reformed church of Sint Annaparochie.

Heerenveen enjoys international fame for iceskating. Thialf was the second covered 400 meter track in the world and is still considered one of the fastest ice rinks in the world. In addition, Heerenveen is of course known for the football club of the same name and the stadium named after the legendary football player Abe Lenstra. But this ’sports city’ and its surroundings have a lot more to offer!

Heerenveen was originally a peat colonial settlement. In 1551, the notables Van Dekema, Van Cuijk, and Foeyts, the ’gentlemen of the peat’, founded the Schoterlandse Veencompagnie, the oldest Dutch high peat colony and the second oldest public limited company in the Netherlands.

They started digging the Heerensloot, along which the peat would be removed. Right after that, the Schoterlandse Compagnonsvaart was dug in an easterly direction, the endpoint of which, with the extraction of the peat, continued to shift. Heerenveen originated at the intersection of these peat canals. These on their turn became the definitive boundaries of the existing "grietenijen" (municipalities). Until a larger municipality came into being in 1934 with the name ’Heerenveen’, which consisted of the formal municipalities of Schoterland, Aengwirden, and part of Haskerland, Heerenveen lay for centuries in three different municipalities.

The past and present of Heerenveen and its surroundings are told and depicted in a fascinating way in Museum Willem van Haren. A separate part of it is entirely devoted to the minister, freethinker, socialist, anarchist and anti-militarist Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, who has made a special effort to improve the miserable living and working conditions of peat workers in the area.

The living conditions contrasted sharply with those of the notables who settled in the course of the centuries in the area that has since been reclaimed southeast of Heerenveen. In 1676 the Frisian governor Willem Frederik and his wife, Albertine Agnes van Oranje, had an estate constructed here. They were followed by numerous other notables who built country houses and park-like gardens in the area. This has resulted in a very special concentration of country estates with associated service homes and farms, age-old forests, stately lanes and beautiful parks. The whole forms the present-day estate Oranjewoud, an area of ​​400 hectares that is managed by Staatsbosbeheer. The nickname ’Pronkzaal van Friesland’ (Showroom of Friesland) actually says it all.

Part of the estate was designed by Daniël Marot, who also designed the gardens of the Royal palace Het Loo. That part was reconstructed in 2004 in its original, baroque style. The area was also expanded with a new garden, in which the newly built, sleekly designed building of Museum Belvédère (museum of modern Frisian art; highly recommended!) Is beautifully integrated. Oranjewoud Estate is best explored on foot. A walking route of no less than 19 kilometers has been set out by Staatsbosbeheer.

The wider area forms a beautiful, very varied backdrop for cycling trips. To the north of the forest area are the architecturally and urban developmentally interesting residential area of ​​Skoatterwâld and the aforementioned Museum Belvédère. In a southerly direction, the forest area abruptly changes into the open landscape that is formed by grassland on either side of the river Tjonger. Towards the east, there is a gradual transition to a semi-open landscape.

The Frisian Haagje, as Heerenveen and the surrounding area are also called, (with a nod to sophisticated The Hague) has everything to offer for a pleasant stay. The liveliness of the sports and shopping town of Heerenveen, the tranquility, nature and cultural history of Oranjewoud, the culture, architecture and urban design of Museum Belvédère and Skoatterwâld and the very varied landscape of the wider surroundings.

Most Elfstedentocht ice skaters will not be aware that the first part of the journey, from Leeuwarden to Sneek, will ride through an area that was still around sea around the year 1200: the Middelsee. That was a sea inlet from the Wadden Sea deep into the land, which ran west past Leeuwarden, bent off from Raerd to the west and only ended at Bolsward. At Raerd the river De Boorne ended in the Middelsee. Just north of that village is the very special Park Jongemastate, also known as the Raerder woods.

The Middelsee divided Friesland into Westergo and Oostergo. When the sea arm began to silt up, it was gradually being reclaimed into polders from the south from the middle of the eleventh century. The polders were named after the villages that were on the banks of the (former) sea arm: Weidumer Nieuwland, Mantgumer Nieuwland, Wytgaarder Nieuwland, etcetera. The buildings in the ’new lands’ are still limited to scattered farms to this day. As a result, the area has enormous openness and beautiful views: for many Fryslân at its best.

The border between the ’new land’ and the ’old land’ is clearly recognizable in the landscape by the slightly higher, winding roads over the dikes and levies along the former Middelsee. Between Easterwierrum and Boazum, it had sort of a ’bottleneck’: the two banks were less than a kilometer apart. The dike between the two villages is the beginning (or the end) of the famous, more than 42 km long Slachtedyk, which in 2000 formed the first edition and atmospheric backdrop for the Slachtemarathon. This has since been organized once every four years. But you don’t have to wait until the next edition: the dike is freely accessible. And when you set off on your own, you experience the beautiful landscape, the peace, and quiet all the more! And of course, you may also walk a small part of the route...

The Zwette runs right between the banks of the former Middelsee, which for a long time was the most important connection between Leeuwarden and Sneek. Several villages on the banks of the former sea arm were connected to the Zwette via narrow canals. Today, the Zwette is part of the Middelsee route. The boating route, which opened in 2005, makes the area between Leeuwarden, Sneek, Bolsward and Franeker accessible to water sports enthusiasts.

A number of the villages on the banks of the former Middelsee can be reached by boat. Boazum, located on the Boazumer Feart, is an attractive, picturesque village with an authentic village café. Easterwierrum, known for the annual Berne-iepenloftspul, (Childrens open air theatre) is close to the Zwette. Mooring places have been built near the village, just like at Dearsum. That village used to be famous for cattle breeding. The farm of the internationally renowned cattle breeder Durk Schaap, who was visited by Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik in 1913, now has found new purpose as a luxury recreational home and mini-campsite.

Mantgum is a little further away from the Zwette, but can be reached via the Mantgumer Feart and has its own small harbor. When you take a walk through the picturesque center of the village, it will not surprise you that it has the status of a protected village. Equally beautiful is the "Seerp van Galamawei", the road to the station along the Leeuwarden-Sneek railway line which opened in 1883. Opposite Mantgum, on the other side of the former Middelsee, is Reduzum, which is also accessible from the Zwette for small rental boats and has a marina with 30 berths. On www.reduzum.com you can read that it has always been a progressive village.

But if you are not a watersports enthusiast, this area still has a lot to offer. The quiet country roads, for example, are ideal for cycling. In this way, the other villages are also within reach. For example, take a look at Jellum, which is known for its annual pumpkin festival on the third weekend of September. The nearby Bears is worth a visit because of the "Bezoekerscentrum Uniastate" (Uniastate Visitor Center). The original gate of that estate has been preserved and the earlier contours are represented by means of a steel frame.

Finally, Weidum is highly recommended: a picturesque, somewhat elegant village with a unique, beautiful open space in the middle. The western part of it, at the foot of the mound (with one of the most beautiful churches in Friesland), the field is used for the local local Frisian sport of Kaatsen.

In 2006 this area was the setting for an event that attracted worldwide attention. In the night from October 31 to November 1, in the outer dike area, more than 200 horses were trapped by the water due to storms and floods. For a few days, the herd stood packed together on a higher piece of land. Images of it and of the rescue campaign went around the world and are engraved in the memory of many. More information can be found on Micky Nijboer’s website, who devised the rescue and performed it with five other amazons. There (and also on YouTube) are also the impressive images of the rescue action. Five years after the drama (more than 20 horses were killed), a work of art was unveiled on the dike at Marrum in memory of Machiel Braaksma.

The north of the municipality of Ferwerderadiel is a very interesting area. On a salt marsh that at the time was more or less the coastline, the mound villages of Blija, Ferwert, Marrum, and Hallum were founded a few centuries BC. The main road along these villages follows the route of the dike that was constructed in the eleventh century to protect the land around the villages against the sea. On the outside of the dike, new salt marshland was created by silting up over the centuries. Halfway through the eighteenth century that salt marsh was flooded. The current seawall is a lot higher, but it is still in the same place as at the time.

In the eighteenth century, the four villages each had their own sailing connection with the more southern Dokkumer Ee. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the area was also opened up by a railway line. This was built and operated by the North Frisian Local Railway Company (NFLS) and ran from Leeuwarden, via Dokkum to Anjum. The line has long been discontinued and the trail has largely disappeared, but the so-called ’Dockumer Lokaeltsje’ still makes the heart beat faster of many Frisians. The route is still recognizable here and there in the landscape and most stations are still there but are often difficult to recognize as such. The latter does not apply to the Marrum-Westernijkerk station, which has been completely restored to its original state.

Back to the dike. On it, near Marrum, is a monumental work of art by Ids Willemsma. It was created on the occasion of the completion of bringing the Frisian Wadden dikes to the so-called "Delta height" between 1963 and 1993. The impressive dike offers a wonderful view of the area North of it, the Noarderleech. A start had already been made on cultivating this silted up area when it was decided to give the sea ’controlled’ a natural influence again. Since the outer summer dikes (low dikes) were punctured, a unique nature reserve has developed on the border of salt and sweet that is freely accessible from 1 July to 15 March and where two nature walks have been plotted.

In addition to nature, the area is also interesting because of the still obvious traces of the process of land reclamation and cultivation: summer dikes, locks, beautiful round drinking water areas surrounded by ring dikes and the remains of a railway track that used to serve for transporting wood (and labor) for the old land reclamation works. There are also two bunkers from the Second World War in the area.

Noord Ferwerderadiel: a surprisingly versatile area, witness to the Dutch "Fight against the water" and a perfect combination of tranquility, nature, culture and landscape beauty.

Between the sources of the Boorne and the Tsjonger, two rivers that drain the water of the Drents Plateau in a westerly direction, there is a varied landscape with forests, heaths, sand drifts, peat bogs, and peat reclamations. It is the border region of the three northern provinces. Allardsoog is the "three-province point". Here lies the "Landweer", a late-medieval defensive wall with ditches on both sides, which was constructed against possible attacks by Drenten and Groningers. This was the first nature reserve to be acquired by the provincial nature conservation association, It Fryske Gea, shortly after its founding in 1930. Nowadays it is part of the Mandefjild-Bakkeveen, a beautiful, varied nature area of ​​261 hectares, with cycling and walking paths and a wheelchair-friendly path. The immediate surroundings of Bakkeveen have traditionally been an attraction for tourists and day visitors. Attractions in the area include an outdoor swimming pool, a maze path and a modern ’belvedere’ (lookout tower). Northeast of the village lies De Slotplaats, an estate that originally dates from 1668. The former country retreat now serves as a restaurant, teahouse and meeting location and is surrounded by a classical garden with a moat. The entire estate forms one of the larger forest areas in Friesland. Very special is the star-shaped "schans" (fortification) discovered in the forest around 1995 and restored at the beginning of this century.

Immediately south of the De Slotplaats estate is the Heide-van-Duurswoude. This nature reserve takes its name from the village of Duurswoude, which was merged in 1973 with the neighboring Wijnjeterp and Wijnjeterpstreek to become Wijnjewoude. With an area of ​​145 hectares, it is the largest contiguous heathland area in Friesland and is bordered on two sides by forest. The area is characterized by a number of smaller and larger, round pools. In part, this concerns so-called "pingo ruins": remains of ice mounds from the last "small" ice age, in which the Netherlands were not covered by an ice sheet, but it was so cold that the surface was permanently frozen (permafrost). The ice mounds were created because relatively warm groundwater seeped up through weak spots in the frozen ground, froze just below the surface and pushed up the ground above. Due to the continuous supply of groundwater, the ice core grew steadily and the layer of earth slid down at a given moment. As the temperature rose, the ice melted and a water-filled hole remained, surrounded by a ring wall: the pingo ruin.

Another special area is the so-called Blue Forest, which lies between Waskemeer, Haule and Haulerwijk and is so named after the bluish spruce that grow there. The coniferous forest is interspersed with deciduous forest, grassland, water, and heath. In short: a very varied area. The entire complex is freely accessible and is perfect for exploring on foot, on horseback or by bicycle With the explicit mention of the above-mentioned areas, the rest of this region is actually being done wrong. The forest and heathland areas are surrounded by extensive peat reclamation, which is also worthwhile in terms of landscape and cultural history. And where in some places there are also important natural values, such as in the Haulerpolder, south of Haule.

The peat mining history can be read from the very regular landscape. This regularity is the result of the often "straight" neighborhoods. These dug ditches were important for the drainage and served for the drainage of the peat. The further distribution took place via the Opsterlandse Compagnonsvaart. This boating connection is nowadays part of the (large) Turfroute, a 230-kilometer boating route through Friesland, Drenthe, and Overijssel.

All in all, it is not the individual, special areas that make this region so attractive, but rather the unique combination of the different types of landscapes on the one hand and the natural and cultural-historical values ​​on the other.

Beesterzwaag became nationally known when the press discovered that the Lauswolt estate was the "secret" location for the discussions that eventually led to the Balkenende IV cabinet. The choice of the political leaders for this environment is not surprising: far away from all hectic, leafy and with the necessary grandeur. It is not for nothing that Beetsterzwaag is also known to the insiders as "the Wassenaar of the North" Traditionally, the surroundings of Beetsterzwaag were already popular with the nobility and patriciate, who realized their estates with country houses there. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, large landowners started to plant forests on a large scale. Since then, the village itself has also developed into a place of residence that to this day is associated with "chic" and "decent". The forest area around Beetsterzwaag is a gem from a landscape point of view: coniferous and deciduous forest alternate and are interrupted by pieces of grassland, heathland, and water. In addition to the Lauswolt estate, which also has a golf course, there is also the beautiful Park-Olterterp parked in the landscape style. In the mansion of the same name, which was built in 1907 to replace an older castle, it is the seat of It Fryske Gea, the provincial association for nature protection. Along the Boorne (also known as Oud- or Koningsdiep), a drainage stream from the Drents Plateau, there is a wide, open strip that cuts through the area from east to west. To the south, the forest area continues and there is also the Liphústerheide, a vast heathland of 6 hectares. Even further south the forest area becomes the semi-open landscape around Hemrik and Lippenhuizen. Here the peat mining history of the area is still clearly recognizable in the tight, elongated subdivision.

The latter also applies to the western part of the region, between Gorredijk and the Wijde Ee (west of Drachten). Here there is a varied landscape that consists of vast peat bogs, small pieces of forest and water. The Boorne continues its way here, and the Nieuwe Vaart and the Polderhoofdkanaal, both dug for drainage and drainage of peat. The perfectly straight Polderhoofdkanaal, which makes a right angle at Nij Beets towards the Nieuwe Vaart, dates from 1875 and was closed to shipping in 1967. In the meantime it has been reopened for recreational sailing. This creates an extra link between the Turfroute, of which the Nieuwe Vaart is a part, and the Frisian Lake District. The museum It Damshûs in Nij Beets offers a beautiful picture of the history and consequences of the peat mining industry in the area.

Last but not least, the Wijnjeterper Schar, a nature area to the east of the Beetsterzwaag forests that consists of forests, ponds, heathland, and rugged grassland. A three-kilometer ’poetry route’ runs through this area: a walk along fifteen panels with poems by different poets, in Frisian, Dutch and Stellingwerfs, the regional language spoken in Southeast Friesland. The poems can also be read with an mp3 player, read by the poet himself. The audio files and texts are on the website of Staatsbosbeheer-MP3 and can be downloaded.

It will be clear: the wide surroundings of Beetsterzwaag are in all respects a very attractive area. Nature, tranquility, landscape beauty, culture, and cultural history, sporting opportunities: this region has a lot to offer. The in itself varied forests are ideal for hiking, horse riding or mountain biking. And for those who want to discover the enormous diversity of the entire region, the bicycle is a great means of transport. Finally, this can also be combined with a boat trip through the area.

Around Bolsward is a beautiful area with a very interesting history. For many, this is Friesland to the fullest: breathtaking views, picturesque, tranquil villages with centuries-old churches on even older mounds, remains of old dikes, former natural sea inlets. The fight against the water is clearly felt and visible here. Incidentally, the sea was not just an enemy. Thanks in part to the sea, Bolsward was able to develop into a rich trading city. And the surrounding area also benefited from this bloom.

Where nowadays cars drive towards Afsluitdijk, ships sailed from Bolsward to the Zuiderzee 1000 years ago. And further: England, Scandinavia, the Baltic, Russia. The city lay on the southern branch of the Marneslenk, a sea arm that invaded the country north of the current Afsluitdijk. The southern and northern Marneslenk both ended up east of Bolsward in the Middelzee, a sea arm that invaded Friesland from the north. As a result, the city was actually on an island that was protected by a ring dike because of its low location. This made it one of the first larger areas to be diked: the so-called ’mother polders’. This is the largest of the four mother polders in Friesland: the polder runs from Hartwerd to Witmarsum and from Burgwerd to the A7.

Even after the Marne and the Middelzee had been silted up for a long time, Bolsward remained a major trading center for a long time. The city also literally had a central position, which is still visible on the map: waterways run from all directions into Bolsward, which used to be the most important connections with Makkum, Workum, IJlst, Sneek, Harlingen and a number of smaller towns in the area.

Therefore, you can also discover this unique area from the water. But you can of course also go by bike. Or walking. We only recommend the car in bad weather.

There will be few children from the northern provinces of the Netherlands who have never been there on a school trip: Appelscha. The name has an almost magical sound for many people from the North. The special appeal is expressed, for example, in the name ’Kobus goes to Appelscha’ (a successful punk band from the 1980s) and the ’Greetings from Appelscha’ program by Omrop Fryslân.

Appelscha and its surroundings have been a tourist attraction since the 1920s. And that is not surprising: the border area between Friesland and Drenthe is of unparalleled beauty here. Arable land, pasture, forest, heath and sand drifts alternate and form the picturesque backdrop for numerous cycling, walking and riding routes. In 2007 the conclusion of a scientific study in which thousands of people put together their favorite landscape and scientists searched the locations for it, was that Appelscha has the most beautiful landscape in the Netherlands.

The area includes one of the largest nature reserves in the Netherlands, the Drents-Friese Wold National Park: more than 6,000 hectares of forest, heathland, drifting sand and brook valley grasslands. The park is intersected by various walking, cycling, mountain biking, riding and driving routes and has a number of specific facilities and attractions for families with children. Lake Canada is suitable for swimming. There is a visitor center in Appelscha and an information center in Diever.

But there is more to enjoy when it comes to nature and landscape. Take Fochteloërveen, for example: one of the last remnants of ’living’ high peat in the Netherlands. The peat layer is still growing in this 2500-hectare area. Due to the lack of buildings and roads in the wider area, there is still real peace and quiet here. These unique circumstances lead to very special and rich flora and fauna. The crane, which places very high demands on its habitat, is perhaps the most striking example of this.

A smaller but just as interesting nature reserve is the Schaopedobbe near Elsloo, a heathland of 98 hectares with peat bogs, sand drift and groups of trees.

The area is also more than worth it from a cultural-historical point of view. The peat mining history can still be clearly seen in the landscape. The peat was excavated systematically from the higher areas. A very regular landscape with perfectly straight ’neighborhoods’ emerged: ditches along which the peat was transported in small boats to the larger canals such as the Opsterlandse Compagnonsvaart and the Hoofdvaart in Drenthe. Both are part of the so-called (large) Turfroute, a 230-kilometer sailing route through Friesland, Drenthe and Overijssel.

It is clear: this area really has everything to offer for an unforgettable stay. Nowhere is the cliché ’something for everyone’ more appropriate than here: nature, tranquility, cultural history, attractions, water sports, cycling, walking, horse riding ...

The region literally offers too much to mention. A final ’highlight’ that should not, however, remain unmentioned is the unique prison village of Veenhuizen, directly north of the Fochteloërveen. The prison museum not only brings the history of the forced labor colony to life but also offers a glimpse of contemporary prison life. It is not for nothing that the Gevagenismuseum was named the "Best historical museum in the Netherlands" in 2007.

"Heart of Friesland," Grou is often called. In a literal sense, there is in any case little to deny: the village is located approximately in the middle of the province. But also in a transferable sense there is a lot to be said for that name: Grou is a symbol of Fryslân as a watersports province. Not for nothing is the village the beautiful backdrop for the opening competition of the annual Skûtsjesilen on Pikmeer and the Wijde Ee. Especially in the months of June, July, and August, Grou is a very busy and vibrant water sports center. But the village has more to offer than just the water, much more.

Before the advent of water recreation, Grou was already a thriving village. The central location and the abundance of water were favorable for trade, shipping, fishing and related activities, such as shipyards, sailmakers and rope makers. There was not only a lot of water around the village but also in the village. Most of it has disappeared, but the "archipelago structure" is still clearly visible. The combination with the often prominent buildings creates an attractive and somewhat sophisticated ambiance.

A unique event is the "Sint Piterfeest", which is celebrated every year on 21 February and is more or less the Grouster variant of the Sinterklaasfeest. The festival is named after the patron saint of fishermen and skippers. The impressive 12th-century church is also dedicated to this Sint Piter. Other attractions are the mineralogical museum and the town hall built in 1942, with the De Trije Grietenijen museum in the basement.

South of Grou is Akkrum, another typical water sports village. A little less crowded than Grou, but also very lively and pleasant. The village forms the link between the Frisian Lakes and the Turfroute, a recreational sailing route through southeastern Fryslân, part of the province of Overijssel and the western part of Drenthe. Just like Grou, Akkrum is also attractive for non-water sports enthusiasts. Due to the alternation of mostly characteristic buildings with beautiful open spaces, it is a distinctly beautiful village. Very special is Coopersburg, built in 1901 as a "home for the less fortunate elderly". It is named after the wealthy founder Folkert Harmens Kuiper, who as a 23-year-old emigrated from Akkrum to America and called himself Cooper there. He had a beautiful mausoleum built for himself and his wife in the associated park. Another point of interest is Welgelegen, built in 1924 as a "home for unmarried ladies and widows". Art lovers can go to ’Atelier Wynske’ and ’Zuup’ in Nes. And do you want something completely different? Participate in the Open Frisian "Slingeraap" Championship (cross the river hanging on a rope), which is held annually in Akkrum.

The Kromme Knilles (Crooked Knilles) is also swinging from left to right, as the river Boarne between Akkrum and the Prinses Margrietkanaal is called. On the other side of that channel lies the village of Jirnsum, an atmospheric watersports village, a bit quieter than Akkrum. Here the Boarne has the meaningful name "Rak van Ongemak" (Rak of Incomfort): the many curves made it difficult to sail. The history of the village is expanded and beautifully articulated and depicted on www.irnsum.nl.

Outside the three water sports villages you will find an oasis of peace. Endless meadows, water, beautiful views, monumental farms and here and there a quiet village. A paradise for cyclists, riders, hikers, and roller-skaters. You can rent bicycles in Grou or Akkrum. A beautiful and well-documented route is "De 8 van Grou", available at the Tourist Office. But of course, you can also discover the area on your own. A must for nature lovers is the area around Goëngahuizen, south of the Pikmeer and the Wijde Ee. Here are the ’Botmar’ and the ’Unlân van Jelsma en Kobbelân’. Three wooden spinning-head mills complete the picture.

Grou may be "the heart of Friesland", the actual center is Eagum, one of the smallest villages in the province. At least, it was once the center of attention. Perhaps. According to tradition, the striking church tower, which has been standing all by itself for several centuries, stands right next to the center of the world.

Curious? Go look and see.

The area to the west and north-west of Heeg is sometimes referred to as the ’Little Lakes area’. Here, surrounded by green meadows, there are fifteen lakes and pools that are connected to each other via wider or narrower channels. This is perhaps the ultimate Frisian landscape: water, meadows, waving reedlands, monumental farms, here and there a windmill, a church tower or a belfry and above all that typical, breathtaking vastness.

The Little Lakes region is a paradise for those who are looking for peace, space, silence, and nature. Large parts are only accessible to small water sports. The area is ideal for canoeing. Multiple routes are available at the tourist information offices in Heeg, Gaastmeer and Oudega. But even if you do not like boating, you can experience the unique character of this region: it is also a wonderful place for walking, cycling or rollerblading. And not only in the summer, but actually in every season. A nice route, for example, runs along the north bank of the Oudegaaster Brekken. The water, the reed collars, and the underlying polders form a beautiful backdrop with the name Muntsebuorsterpolder.

Oudega and Gaastmeer lie directly on the waterfront and are busy, but nevertheless quiet, water sports villages. Idzega and Sandfirden are quiet and idyllically situated hamlets consisting of a few farms and a church. The church of Sandfirden, where cultural activities take place on a regular basis, has its own jetty. The hamlet is located on the north bank of the "Hop en de Ringwiel" also forms a nature reserve.

Every now and then, until 2014, the peace was pleasantly disturbed by the steam train that ran between Sneek and Stavoren until then. Nowadays there are five pools in the area north of the railway line. The three western form combined nature reserve the Blauhúster Puollen. Most of the lakes here were drained from the seventeenth century. An example is the Sensmeer east of Dedgum. Hieslum, nowadays between the meadows, was once surrounded by water.

The meandering Hemdijk protected the already wet land against the water of the Middelzee. Blauwhuis is located on and around this ancient dike. The famous architect P.H. Cuypers built a neo-Gothic cross basilica here at the end of the nineteenth century, which together with the parsonage, the garden, the fencing, and the cemetery form a beautiful ensemble. The tower dominates the landscape to this day. A tad to the southwest lies the picturesque Greonterp, where renowned writer Gerard Reve lived and worked for a number of years. The village has a unique bell tower.

For more liveliness you can go to Heeg, which is a bustling water sports village from May to September. The distinguished buildings and the compact character give the village a certain grandeur and a small-town character. Thanks to its direct location on the Heegermeer and at the crossroads of major waterways, the village has become one of the most important water sports centers in Fryslân. But Heeg also has plenty to offer non-water sports enthusiasts: nice shops, an array of restaurants, and pleasant terraces. Lovers of nautical and maritime art can indulge in the "De Scheepskamer van Heeg" gallery. And in "Houtbouwmuseum De Helling" you get a nice picture of the traditional Frisian wooden ship types and the rich history of the village.

With Gaastmeer and Woudsend, Heeg formed the center of the Dutch eel fishery and trade from the last quarter of the seventeenth century. The eel was shipped to England, among other destinations. Until 1938 there was even a free berth for the Frisian eel barges on the banks of the Thames in London. With the eel trade, the type of ship (Palingaak) also vanished after the Second World War. However, in the summer of 2019, the Palingaak KYII, after much preparation and restoration of the beautiful ship, made the trip to London all over again. Look at www.palingaaklondon.nl for a report of this special trip and the opportunity to sponsor this public initiative.

Since 2009, Houtbouwmuseum De Helling has had a newly built eel barge at its disposal, with which day trips can be made. For those who prefer a sailing trip on a skûtjse, there is the turning ferry Heeg-Woudsend-Balk. You can take your bike on board!

Lovers of cultural history and traditional art can indulge in the beautiful coastal area between Makkum and Hindeloopen. The area is the birthplace of the famous Makkum pottery, the renowned Hindelooper painting, and the less well-known, but also very characteristic Workum pottery. Two of the Frisian Eleven Cities are located here: Workum and Hindeloopen. And anyone who has visited Makkum will agree that there should have been twelve Frisian cities.

But this area has much more to offer: a beautiful wide landscape, picturesque villages, tranquility, space, and varied nature. You can really enjoy cycling, walking, rollerblading or horse riding here. And the IJsselmeer offers limitless opportunities for sailing, sailing, (kite) surfing, water skiing, swimming or fishing.

Makkum was originally a fishing village, where some industrial activity later arose: shipyards, sawmills, brick factories, and lime kilns. In recent decades it has become a busy and bustling village that mainly lives off tourism. Part of the Makkumerwaard, a reclaimed part of the IJsselmeer, has been transformed into a recreational area with a campsite, a holiday park, a sandy beach, a marina and a boulevard with shops. To the north and south of it are the Makkumerwaarden, an attractive nature reserve.

The old village has retained its authentic and attractive character. Makkum has an urban appearance because of continuous facades, which mainly consists of distinguished houses, townhouses, and former warehouses. At the Turfmarkt, two eighteenth-century buildings with a modern extension contain the world-famous pottery company Koninklijke Tichelaar, where you can get a tour (by appointment). Art lovers can also visit Galerie Käller, Atelier In Beeld or Aart Cornelissen’s studio. Would you rather go shopping? Makkum has an array of authentic shops and boutiques and in between and afterward there are several cozy terraces, cafes, and restaurants to discuss the shopping results.

The area of ​​the Aldfaers Erf Route lies between Makkum and Workum. This route, which is over 20 kilometers long, connects a number of picturesque villages, runs through vast meadows, along the IJsselmeer dike and combines cultural history, landscape, and nature. The Makkumer Súdmar, a peat polder that was drained at the end of the nineteenth century, lies between the museum village of Allingawier and Idsegahuizum. South of Piaam the route runs directly behind the dike and along the Dyksfearten. Gaast, it’s already in the name, is a bit higher on a sandy mound. The lovely, beautiful location directly behind the dike in no way suggests that rough people used to live here: poachers, hunters, sailors, and whalers. Here you have a truly breathtaking view of the IJsselmeer, the Makkumerwaarden and the Workumerwaard from the dike.

The Workumerwaard was diked after the closure of the Zuiderzee (1932). From the road over the old Zuiderzeedijk (dike), you have a beautiful view of the old and new land. Southwest of Workum is Workumer Nieuwland, which was reclaimed more than 300 years earlier. The road from Workum to Hindeloopen is also located here on the original Zuiderzeedijk.

Workum and Hindeloopen themselves hardly need any introduction. For a description of the atmosphere and character: click on one of the two links. Workum naturally owes its fame to the Jopie Huisman Museum. But Museum Warkums Erfskip is also worth a visit. Furthermore, this pleasant town has a considerable number of galleries, studios, and potteries. You can find them on site www.workum.nl, which we heartily recommend if you want to know more about Workum.

Hindeloopen is famous for its characteristic painting style. You can see examples of this in various shops and studios and in the Hidde Nijland Museum. In the picturesque town, you will also find the unique "Eerste Friese Schaatsmuseum" (First Frisian Ice Skating Museum). Is the weather suitable for a visit to the beach? You will find that on the south side of the town. Then be aware of the fact that you are part of a long tradition, for the special bathing pavilion, built-in 1913, bears witness to the long history of Hindeloopen as a seaside resort.

For most, the Afsluitdijk is no more and no less than a convenient, fast connection between Friesland and North Holland. Only a few realize that the dike, constructed between 1927 and 1932, is one of the world’s largest water management projects ever. The realization of a 30-kilometer dam to close off an inland sea was an unprecedented achievement, certainly at that time.

The Afsluitdijk is not only a connection between destinations; the dike itself is also an attractive destination. Here you will experience the superlative of the concept of grandeur. When the weather is nice, the view of the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer is breathtaking. And in bad weather, you are really one with the elements here.

Kornwerderzand is, just like Breezanddijk, a former work island. The German advance was held back here in May 1940 for a long time. The so-called ’casemates’ (bunkers) still exist and today form an interesting Casemate Museum. There is also a large lock complex here. The complex is a national monument and is named after Hendrik Lorentz, who received the Nobel Prize for physics in 1902 and played an important role in the construction of the Afsluitdijk.

The area around the connection of the Afsluitdijk to the mainland is also worthwhile. Cornwerd, the birthplace of the poet Obe Postma, is a protected townscape and in Wons is a very rare "central building church". Zurich is better known for its hotel-café-restaurant, named after the nearby monument "De Steenen Man", where many dyke workers sought entertainment and where it allegedly could go wild.

between Leeuwarden and Drachten lies a very special part of Friesland. Here the "Friese Wouden" (Frisian Woodlands) merge into the "Lage Midden" (Lower center), the low-lying part of the province where the Frisian Lakes are located. This transition provides a wonderful combination of diverse landscapes: the semi-open landscape of the Woodlands, a wide and open peat meadow landscape, reclaimed lakes, here and there a single mound, swamp and reed lands, and water, lots of water. The latter naturally makes the area particularly attractive for water sports enthusiasts. But this beautiful area also has a lot to offer for the landlubber.

The area is intersected by two important connections for commercial shipping: the Princess Margriet Kanaal and its branch towards Leeuwarden and Harlingen, the Van Harinxma Kanaal. Both were realized between 1949 and 1952. In addition, existing waterways were deepened and channeled. The place where the Princess Margriet Canal crosses the route that used to be busy between Leeuwarden and Drachten is called ’Krúswetters’ (Crosswaters). South of it lies National Park De Alde Feanen, a 4000-hectare area consisting of open water, vast reed fields, flowery grasslands, and swamp forests. A large part is managed by It Fryske Gea. Traditionally the area is also called "De Princenhof", due to the fact that it formerly was used by the House of Orange as a hunting grounds. It was discovered as a recreational area as early as the beginning of the twentieth century and now offers the visitor countless options: boating, sailing, walking, nature excursions, cruises.

Earnewâld is inextricably linked to the past and present of De Alde Feanen. After the peat diggers had given the landscape a completely different look, it became a village of fishermen, skippers and reed cutters. Nowadays Earnewâld is a recreational and water sports village and the beating touristic heart of the National Park. In addition to the National Park visitor center, the stork station It Eibertshiem, Museum Het Kokelhûs and the Skûtsjemuseum are also worth a visit. Galerie Koopmans is highly recommended for art lovers But the region has more to offer than only Earnewâld and the Alde Feanen! For example, cross the Prinses Margriet Kanaal to Warten. This typical waterfront village on the old shipping route from Leeuwarden to Drachten did not gain access to land until 1865. In the village, you can find the only remaining "langhuisboerderij" (longhouse farm) of Friesland that, just like the former local "armenhuis" (house for the poor), now has a museum function.

A little further to the west lies Wergea, which originated on a mound between three lakes that were drained in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The village grew considerably thanks to its location on the formerly busy freight route from Leeuwarden, via Grou to Sneek. The inhabitants were known as the "Brêgebidlers" (bridge beggars), because of the toll that the skippers had to pay when they crossed the bridge in the village. In 1886 the first cooperative dairy factory in the Netherlands was established in Wergea, which has grown into the current international dairy group Friesland Foods. The beautiful village also forms the backdrop for the famous book by Nynke van Hichtum, "Afkes Tiental". The old castle mansion that is playing a role in. Until 2019 it used to house the "Museum Ald Slot". You can download a walking route and two cycling routes via www.wergea.com.

Oudega (SM) is located east of the Alde Feanen. Via the "Oudegaster Zanding", a small lake that was drained in 1922, this village used to be connected to the "Wijde Ee" waterway. Across the water lies the hamlet of "Smalle Ee", which used to be an important trading place. Nowadays it the neighboring "De Veenhoop" has the activity, which is mainly focused on water sports. Close to the day on which the famous Skûtsjesilen competition is held here, the multi-day and somewhat notorious "Veenhoopfestival" takes place close to the village.

The "Healânspad" is a beautiful cycling route through the transition area between the "Friese Wouden" and the "lage Midden". The route takes you past Garyp, among others. This village has always had a strong bond with Suwâld, located across the Prinses Margriet canal. Already in 1645 there was a "transfer", which was restored to its former glory in 1995 with the commissioning of a small (bicycle) ferry that runs on solar energy. South of Suwâld is still the old ferry house from 1727.

Nowhere in Friesland is former peat-mining activity so clearly visible in the landscape as in the area between Heerenveen and Akkrum. Here, in the so-called "Low center" of the province, lies the nature reserve De Deelen. Peace, space, and nature dominate in this beautiful area. That was very different in the first half of the twentieth century. Around 1920, excavation of peat started in the area and therefore it was a very busy area. The so-called ’pet-holes’ were created by excavating; in between, small pieces of land were spared where the excavated peat was laid to dry: the "legakkers" or "laying fields". The peat was removed via a specially dug ring canal, which connected to Ulesprong on the Nieuwe Vaart and to Haskerdijken on the Heerensloot, which was already dug in the sixteenth century for peat extraction.

After the completion of peat extraction, a unique nature area has developed, where many species of water birds feel perfectly at home. Partly due to the presence of rare species such as the black tern, the purple heron, and the harrier, the area has acquired the international status of ’Wetland’. Staatsbosbeheer has set two walking routes through the 500-hectare nature reserve (1.5 and 3.5 km respectively). Special boat excursions to and through the area can be made from the "It Damshûs" museum in Nij Beets. A route dedicated to the history of the area is "Domela’s Paad", named after Domela Nieuwenhuis, the well-known pastor and politician who has made a special effort to improve the miserable living and working conditions of peat workers in the area. The 25-kilometer route runs through the area between Tijnje and Nij Beets and is suitable for cycling or walking.

There is plenty to do in and around Tijnje. Car enthusiasts can visit the "1st Dutch Opel Museum" in the village itself, for example. Lovers of regional products will enjoy themselves at "Kaasboerderij-De Deelen" (on the road to Aldeboarn) and "Kaasboerderij-De Gelder" on the road to Luxwoude. Ulesprong, northwest of Tijnje, is a paradise for art lovers: here you will find gallery and sculpture garden "La Lanka" and you can view (by appointment) work by sculptor Lia Versteege. And across the street from the Nieuwe Vaart is the Sudergemaal, built in 1924, where changing exhibitions are held by artists involved in the Frisian landscape. The Tripgemaal, which was built on the Ringvaart in 1876, is also used for that purpose. There is also a small museum here that gives a picture of the peat mining and fishing in the area.

The Trip pumping station was part of the system of mills, pumping stations, dikes and locks that served to drain and keep the area south of De Deelen dry in order to bring it back into culture. In this area, the former municipality of Aegwirden, the excavation of the peat had already begun in 1800. Due to the rigorous way in which this happened, 30 years later Aegwirden consisted of more than half water and the remaining land had largely become unsuitable for any further use. In order to make the so-called "onland" suitable for agriculture, the "Polder of the Fourth and Fifth Veendistrict" was established in 1833.

To the north of De Deelen flows De Boorne, a drainage river of the Drents Plateau that in the old days flowed into the Middelzee, a sea arm that divided Friesland into a western part (Westergo) and an eastern part (Oostergo). Just like the Nieuwe Vaart and Heerensloot, the Boorne is part of the (large) Turfroute, a 230-kilometer sailing route through Friesland, Drenthe, and Overijssel. Aldeboarn, located on the Boorne, is known for the annual Aldeboarnse-gondelvaart in August. This event has been around since 1946 and has evolved from a parade on the water to a spectacle with 15 floating objects that in fact form complete theater productions. It is obvious that thousands of visitors come to this every year and that it has evolved into one of the main attractions of Friesland.

The Dokkumer Ee, which runs from Leeuwarden to Dokkum, consisted of two separate drainage streams long ago. The artificial, dug connection between the two streams is still recognizable in the straight part of the (otherwise curvy) Ee between Burdaard and Tergracht. The name of the latter neighborhood also indicates the artificial origin of this part of the Dokkumer Ee. After connecting the two parts, the shipping function became increasingly important. For the sake of shipping, people had to "slat" the waterway regularly (dredging, deepening). To this day, the Dokkumer Ee, as part of the upright mast route between the Frisian Lakes and the Wadden Sea, forms an important connection, especially for recreational boating.

On both sides of the Dokkumer Ee is the characteristic mound landscape: vast meadows, seemingly randomly placed mills, scattered farms, here and there some trees and of course the many picturesque terp (mound) villages. A number of them west of Dokkum are known as ’Flieterpen’: Lichtaard, Reitsum, Ginnum, and Jannum. The Church Museum is located in the thirteenth-century church of the latter village. The collection of medieval sarcophagi is one of the largest in Europe. A little further north lies the mound of Hegebeintum, the highest in the Netherlands (8.80 m above sea level). At the mound there is an information center.

Several monasteries used to be in the area. Just west of Sybrandahûs was Klaarkamp, ​​the first Cistercian monastery in the north of the Netherlands, from where numerous other monasteries were founded. At Bartlehiem, the illustrious village on the "Eleven Cities Route", stood the Bethlehem monastery, from which the village takes its name. Nothing remains of the monasteries themselves. In some cases, the monastery grounds are still clearly recognizable in the landscape. This applies, for example, to Klaarkamp and Foswert, a former monastery south of Ferwert.

The area around the Dokkumer Ee has a lot to offer for anyone interested in the history of churches and monasteries. Due to the many small roads, it is also an area that can be explored by bike. But perhaps you will experience the beautiful, wide landscape with its mounds, mills and church towers best on foot. Landschapsbeheer Friesland has also described a number of beautiful walking routes in this area under the name "Historische Wandelpaden" (Historical Walking Paths).

The area around the Fluessen is first and foremost characterized by its enormous openness: a large, elongated lake lies amidst vast, low-lying farmlands with here and there a sand ridge that creates a slope in the landscape. Due to its size and depth, the Fluessen is particularly popular with sailors. But the area is not only a mecca for water sports enthusiasts; also onshore it has a lot to offer, especially for those who love peace and nature.

Thousands of years ago, during the second-to-last ice age, a sliding trough was dragged by the sliding land ice. That glacier valley later filled with water and that is how Heegermeer and the Fluessen came into being. Because the ice mass had pushed the ground ahead, dams were formed that nowadays protrude like sand ridges above the rest of the landscape. Hemelum is located on such a sand ridge. Since the middle of the thirteenth century, there was a women’s monastery here that made way for a men’s monastery one and a half centuries later. That too has long since disappeared. But in 2001, another monastery settled in the village: the Russian Orthodox monastery of Saint Nicholas of Myra. The location of Hemelum on the Morra and close to the forests of Gaasterland makes it an excellent base for boating, cycling or walking tours. For example, take a look at "Route Zuidwest Fryslân".

Koudum also originated on a higher sand ridge. A number of distinguished families used to live in the village. One of them was the Galama family, which worked for the extraction of low-lying land. As a reward for this, in 1628 the Galamas received the right from the Frisian States to levy tolls on the narrow passage between the Fluessen and the Morra. When the Koudumer Slaperdijk was constructed between Hindeloopen and Hemelum in 1732, a lock was built at the ’Galama dams’. The toll was only bought off in 1942 by the then municipality of Hemelumer Oldeferd. Since the aqueduct was put into use in 2007, the delays for shipping and road traffic are a thing of the past.

Because of the horticulture that developed at Koudum, the inhabitants were nicknamed ’Koudumer Beantsjes’ (beans). Since 2005, the Koudumer Beantsjedei has been held annually in honor of the picking of the first beans (end of June). Two years later, that party was combined for the first time with a nostalgic race for sailing barges from Koudum to Gaastmeer and back. The number of galleries and studios in the village is striking: Singel 19, Beeldhouwcentrum Koudum, Galerie Hekker, Wigle Engelsma en Hanshan Roebers. For centuries the lower areas were partly underwater for much of the year. This applied, for example, to the area northwest of the Fluessen. Here lie hamlets with names such as It Heidenskip and De Hel, which refer to the previously poor natural conditions. Drying the land meant a major improvement. The name ’Polder De Vooruitgang’ (Polder The Progress) is significant in that regard. Nowadays it is a beautiful, wide-open area with beautiful views and impressive cloud formations.

The milling of the polders is still partly done with windmills. A characteristic type is the so-called American Wind Engine, which is characterized by a light, iron construction, a wind wheel with iron blades and one or two iron wind vanes. Between Koudum and Molkwerum is one of the largest examples of Friesland.

The Noordwolde-region is located on the southeast side of the lake. After the dikes of the Grote Noordwolder Veenpolder in 1835 peat was extracted here. Along the road through the villages located here are several monumental farms, with in many cases a milk cellar under the house, where cheese and butter used to be made. Home production largely disappeared when a dairy factory was built in 1910 in Elahuizen. Nowadays the factory houses a group accommodation. The village also has two sailing schools.

Oudega also previously had its own port on the Fluessen. The lock in the Grote Turfvaart, the connection between the lake and the village, still exists. In Kolderwolde there are a number of images of women along the road, the Famkes van Kolderwolde (The Girls of Kolderwolde).

The best kept secret of Friesland is probably to the area west of Wolvega: a beautiful area that is hardly known to the general public and which has helped to retain its authentic character. Vast peat polders, ditches, canals, rivers, pet-holes (remaining holes after peat mining), swamps, old dikes, locks, pumping stations, mills: lovers of peace and quiet, nature and cultural history can indulge themselves here. Do you enjoy walking? Or more about cycling? Sail? Horse riding? Canoeing? Roller skating? It’s all possible here!

The Grote Veenpolder, that’s how the area southwest of the Helomavaart is known. On the other side of the canal, the landscape consists of a number of smaller peat polders, the names of which in most cases do not bear witness to a great deal of fantasy: Polder De Ontginning, Hoekstra’s Polder, Polder Oldelamer

In the latter polder, next to the Tsjonger, lies nature reserve "Het Braandemeer", which consists of a small lake, grassland plots, swamp, pet-holes, and reed lands. Slightly to the south is another beautiful nature reserve: the Rottige Meenthe. This area covers the eastern half of the Grote Veenpolder which, unlike the western part, has not been dried and cultivated after the peat has been mined. This has also resulted in an alternation of pet-holes, reed beds and marshes and a very special flora and fauna. The area can be explored on foot, by bicycle or by canoe. If you want an expert explanation, we recommend the excursions regularly organized by Staatsbosbeheer.

Art and culture play an important role in the Rottige Meenthe. The area forms, among other things, the backdrop for two annually organized operas: Opera-Nijetrijne and Opera-Spanga. In the latter village, you will also find the studio (to be visited by appointment) with a gallery of ceramic artist and pottery painter Alie Jager and artisanal studio Zink and Silver.

The Grote Veenpolder is also a very interesting area from a cultural-historical point of view. Centuries before the peat extraction, the Scheene was dug here (by monks?), which divided the area between the lower reaches of the Tsjonger and De Linde. This border ditch was later widened for peat transport. Today, De Scheene forms an idyllic, seemingly natural, landscape element. Where the Scheene flows into the Helomavaart is the Scheenesluis. Close to it are two of the many water mills that drained the area of ​​the Grote Veenpolder.

The aforementioned Helomavaart connects De Tsjonger and De Linde with each other and was constructed in 1748 to be able to remove the peat by ship. The canal is named after the Van Heloma family, who in 1704 came into possession of the "Weststellingwerfsche patented Peat Company". In 1927, the Threeway-lock was built at the place where the canal in the Lende came. This lock, which is unique in the Netherlands, was necessary because of the water management necessity to realize three different water levels in the Helomavaart, the upper course of De Lende and the lower course. The complex was restored to its original state in 1994.

The Lende and the Tsjonger come together at Slijkenburg. Nothing can be recognized about the origin of this village as a defense ramp against the Spaniards in the Eighty Years’ War. Here the old dikes only remind us of the time that the village was still on the coast of the Zuiderzee. Along the village runs the N351, which is named after Peter Stuyvesant, the director general of the former Dutch colony Nieuw Nederland, of which Nieuw Amsterdam (nowadays New York) was the capital. At Scherpenzeel, the village where he grew up, there is a monument on the N351 in honor of this important historical figure. A statue of him is placed at the Tjerk Hiddesweg in Wolvega. That place is worth a visit, among other things because of Museum Het Kiekhuus and the Oudheidkamer located in the Windlust mill. Even more information about local history is provided by the Historical Information Point located in the Public Library. And if you are there, take a look at the Kijkzaal, where changing art exhibitions are held.

The area around de Langweerder Wielen is an unique piece of Fryslan. Nowhere you will find such a small area with such a big landscape contrast: The space around it and the openness of the area with the Wielen and the Koevordermeer, the intimacy of the forest at Sint Nicolaasga. The past is clearly visible and the area breaths the recognizable ‘grandeur’: the picturesque somewhat chic Langweer; the forests with their own solemn lanes and monumental estates; the classy Joure; but many more monumental farmhouses in the countryside as well!

The past is responsible for its special atmosphere. Due to its favourable position near the water, Langweer was developing around 1600 unto a market and harbour place with a weight house, a ‘regthuys’ (courthouse) and several luxurious houses for the upper class, among which Osingastate. A comparison between the beautiful old photographs from the book ‘Trije Swannen yn folle Flecht’ (Three swans in full flight) and the current situation has shown that the village’s historical character remains. According to many, De Buorren is the nicest street of Friesland. Because of it’s charm, in combination with the beautiful environment, water sports possibilities and known Dutch people the village may count to its regular guests.

Nowadays, it is hard to imagine but in the past Joure was also an important harbour place as both England and Scandinavie traded this harbour. Besides the trade, the necessary furnitureshops, clockshops, ship yards and copper ware shops and of course the coffee shop of Douwe Egberts started to exist. The village started to develop itself as a so called ‘vlecke’, a place who is responsible for the centre between a village and a city. The city sights and the rich past provide Joure with its very own face.

Also in the forest area of Sint Nicolaasga are different estates. The Vegelinbossen are called after a certain person who planted them in the 18th century, Johan Vegelin van Claerbergen. This man, who’s family relatives are still owning some of the forests, was also the driving force behind the reclamation of the low parts in the areas. The walking forest Wilhelminaoord was planted in the mid nineties. The forests were formed and are still forming an attraction for the daytrip visitors from the area. At the hostel ‘Huis ter Heide’, a flask course was constructucted. Both have disappeared however. Much later came the current 18 holes golf course.

The area is in the first place a paradise for the watersports visitors. Langweer is a watersports village with style and tradition. The local sailclub was established in 1859 and is one of the oldest of the Netherlands. De Langweerder Wielen are directly linked with the rest of the Friese Meren area. They form the décor for yearly competitions, for example the famous skûtsjesilen. If you wish to sail yourself you can go to the sail school Neptunus in Idskenhuizen, the birth place of Egbert Douwers, founder of Douwe Egberts. If you like to remain on the shore, this is no problem as well. Per bike, motor, by foot or by riding on skeelers u can discover the area just fine. Take for example the ‘pontjes’ route. (See on route zuidwest friesland.nl at langweer ). Or create your own route with the help of the sophisticated system of bike junctions.

There is so much to see and so much to do in Joure that it is easy to fill up one whole day. Combine for example a morning shopping and visit the Museum Joure that is localisated in a beautiful industrial complex from the late ninethees. The new and unique Puzzle museum has opened in 2008 as well and it is worth to visit. Or participate in the Jouster Kuierke, a cultural historical hike through the village, under the supervision of a guide. For people who prefere art, there is a choice of four galleries.

One time per year, during a number of big, spectacular events, the village is extra cosy; the Boerebrulloft, the Balloon feasts (both in end of july) and the Jouster Merke (end of September). Especially in the summer months there are numerous other smaller activities organised. If you wish to participate in a special activity, we recommend you to join a course of fierjeppen at the local fierljeporganisation.

Long ago the sea penetrated far into the North Frisian countryside via the Lauwers. Nowadays, only one river remains from that inlet of the sea, which forms part of the border between Friesland and Groningen. Monks from Gerkesklooster laid a dike in the estuary of the Lauwers in the fifteenth century. The village of Munnekezijl (munneke = monks; zijl = sluice) was created at the drainage sluice in that dike, which was relocated and renewed several times over the centuries. Also on the ’Groninger side’ of the Lauwers are two villages that take their name from the presence of a lock: Lauwerzijl and Pieterzijl. Like Visvliet, the latter village belonged to Friesland until 1637.

The area around the Lauwers has a beautiful, varied landscape, which is ideal for cycling, walking and / or sailing. North of the Prinses Margrietkanaal there is a typical sea clay landscape: beautiful views, old dikes, winding waters, and scattered villages with, without doubt, always a church tower in the center and often a windmill. A ground station for satellite communication was realized near Burum in the 60s of the last century, popularly called ’It grutte ear’ (the big ear). The location was chosen due to the fact that the reception and transmission of radio signals in this open and empty landscape are not or hardly disturbed. Talking about rest ...

Just south of Burum the Galilee women’s monastery used to be, which belonged to the monastery in Gerkesklooster. That village takes its name from the founder of the monastery, a certain Gerke Harkema from Augustinusga. The church, nowadays a bit distant from the village, originated from a renovation of the brewery of the monastery. Over the centuries, the village has merged with Stroobos, which until 1993 belonged to the province of Groningen. The twin village is dominated by the Barkmeijer shipyard, which was established at the then Kolonelsdiep in 1850.

In Stroobos you can cross the canal via a bridge. There, across the water, lie the Surhuizumer Mieden. These ’mieden’, which also occur south of Buitenpost, form a very specific landscape on the transition of clay, sand, and peat. Whoever explores these marshy areas on foot or by bike will see a very interesting cultural-historical landscape (strip-shaped peat subdivision, pet-holes (remaining waters from peat mining), alder lanes, wooded banks) with a great deal of natural richness (meadows, marshes, meadow birds). The part of the Lauwers to the south of the Prinses Margrietkanaal is not navigable but, in fact, only recognizable as a winding ’floor’ in the landscape, which forms the provincial border as far as Surhuisterveen.

Friesland at its best: that is what many people think of the area around the Bergumermeer. And although of course subjective, there is much to be said for that qualification. The area to the east and northeast of the Bergumermeer forms the core area of ​​the National Landscape The Northern Frisian Woodlands. Long ago, from the northwestern slope of the Drents Plateau, the heathland and the lower peatlands were reclaimed here in elongated strips. "Dykswallen" were laid around the plots, earthen dikes on which trees were planted. A characteristic heathland and peat reclamation landscape was created, which is nowhere else as nicely preserved in the Netherlands as here. And nowhere else in Fríesland can you find the combination of such a small-scale, half-closed scenic landscape with the vastness of two lakes, the Bergumermeer, and De Leijen. The Bergumermeer is a natural lake that originated in the ice age. It is ideal for various forms of water sports. The lake is crossed by the Princess Margriet Kanaal. This Frisian part of the important shipping connection from Lemmer to Delfzijl was dug between 1949 and 1952. The Kuikhornstervaart, the Petsloot, and the Nieuwe Zwemmer form an important connection with the Lauwersmeer for pleasure boating.

The Leijen is a peat excavation from the seventeenth century. Due to the limited depth, the lake was only of significance for small water sports for a long time. The lake has been completely redesigned as part of the large-scale Frisian Lakes project (Friese Meren Project). Both the recreational opportunities and natural values ​​have been increased and restored. Gullies were dug to Rottevalle and between Opeinde and Eastermar. The peat excavated area is now part of the Lits-Lauwersmeer route, an attractive alternative boating route from the Frisian Lakes to the Lauwersmeer, which is also suitable for large motorboats.

The area also has a lot to offer for non-water sports enthusiasts and water sports enthusiasts that want to spend time ashore. The many small, quiet roads and unpaved paths through the beautiful scenery make the area a paradise for hikers, runners, cyclists, riders, mountain bikers and roller skaters. The cultural history is visible and palpable in the unspoilt landscape and authentic villages. And those who want to find out more about the former heathland reclamation and living conditions in the area can go to theme park De Spitkeet near Harkema.

In short, Bergumermeer and its surroundings have everything to offer for a pleasant stay; to nature lovers and peace seekers as well as to those who are looking for more action.

The area east of Dokkum is one of the most interesting parts of Friesland in terms of landscape and cultural history. The sea clay area is characterized by panoramic views, seemingly randomly situated mound villages, farms hidden behind old dikes and a number of natural and dug waterways.

Central to the area is the Dokkumer Grootdiep, the remains of a sea arm that reached as far as Dokkum and which for centuries offered the city a direct connection to the open sea. Initially, the largest sea vessels were able to reach Dokkum. But in the course of the centuries, the sea arm silted up further and further. Ultimately, only a strong meandering channel remained. In 1729 the sea arm at the current Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen was closed. A lock with three drainage channels was built in the dike. The complex is used to this day for the drainage of the Frisian basin water. In 1969, when the Lauwerszee was closed off, a separate lock was built just south of the old lock for shipping.

The Dokkumer Grootdiep is nowadays part of the standing mast route from the Frisian lakes to the Wadden Sea. For the sake of shipping, most bends were cut over the course of the centuries, but the original course of the sea arm is still largely present and, in part, also navigable. The dikes on either side of the sea arm are also largely intact. They are the silent and impressive witnesses of the past. Just outside Dokkum is the ’Schreiershoek’. Women and children used to cry here when their husbands and fathers went back to sea for a long time.

A little further north the Súd Ie runs, which ends at Ezumazijl in the Lauwersmeer. This water mainly has a function for the drainage of the area but is also perfect for a canoe trip. Driving along the road from Dokkum to Lauwersoog you can clearly see the cut corners of the originally strongly meandering river on both sides.

South of the Dokkumer Grootdiep is the Strobossertrekvaart. This canal was dug halfway through the seventeenth century by order of and at the expense of the city of Dokkum, which wanted a sailing connection with the city of Groningen. However, the costs turned out to be much higher than the revenues and the city threatened to go bankrupt. The ownership of the canal then came into the hands of a group of creditors. They had a number of toll booths built along the route to ensure a sufficient level of yield. Along the canal, there was a towpath on which horses could walk in order to pull along the barges. Along the current route there are still so-called ’rolling poles’ in various places, which led to the guiding line when cornering.

To improve drainage, the Nieuwe Zwemmer was dug between the Strobossertrekvaart canal and Dokkumer Grootdiep at the end of the nineteenth century. The Oude Zwemmer is just north of it.

With all that water, it is a beautiful sailing area, especially for the ’smaller’ water sports. But there are also many options for larger boats. And for the largest ships, the standing mast route runs straight through the beautiful area. from the Frisian lakes to the Wadden Sea. This very busy route leads through Dokkum, one of the eleven Frisian cities and the center of Northeast Friesland. You must have seen this beautifully preserved fortified town!

The area is also excellent for exploring ’on shore’. The many small and quiet roads are ideal for shorter and longer cycling trips. In addition, there are various walking routes through the area.

"Netherlands polder lands": if that expression is applicable anywhere, then it is in the area south and west of Lake Tjeukemeer. The Lemster Polders, the Veenpolder van Echten, the Veenpolder van Delfstrahuizen: it is all very practical and well-arranged. Everywhere in this area, after the peat extractions was finished in the area, the land was pumped dry and neatly cultivated. Anyone who would draw the conclusion that the results would be a dull, unimaginative landscape is wrong! The largest lake in Friesland and the flat and empty land, with here and there a tree girth, a windmill, a church tower, a farm or an old dike: that combination results in a landscape with a monumental allure. Here, "less is more"!

There is a beautiful legend about the creation of Lake Tjeukemeer. On the south bank of the lake, near Echten, there is a statue of the main characters, Tsjûke and March. Here is also the former steam pumping station from 1913, which was supposed to keep the Polder van Echten dry.

The lake is connected via the Pier Christiaansloot with the rivers and canals in Southeast Friesland and the lakes in Northwest of the province of Overijssel. And both the rest of the Frisian Lake District and the IJsselmeer can be reached conveniently via the Follegasloot. The Tjeukemeer itself offers excellent opportunities for sailing, surfing, swimming, and fishing. Along the banks are marinas, boat ramps, beaches, campsites, hotels and group accommodations. Water sports enthusiasts looking for (more) peace and quiet can moor at the berths that De Marrekrite has realized on the shores of the recently developed artificial islands in the lake.

Those who prefer more livelyness can visit the bustling tourist center of Lemmer. The urban allure of this large village is the result of the important trade and port function it had in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Later, a flourishing fishery developed in the village as an alternative to the declining peat excavation in the area. Fish smokers produced the famous ’Lemster Bokking’, among other local fish related delicacies. Nowadays "Lemster Bokking" is also the name of a prize that is awarded once every two years to a person or institution that has made a special commitment to the characteristic or historic village preservation. And the ’Lemster Bokking Race’ is held annually, a sailing competition for various types of boats. Another very spectacular sailing event is, of course, the famous Skûtsjesilen. Every year the SKS and the IFKS organize several races at the end of July and the beginning of August on the IJsselmeer and the Tjeukemeer.

But Lemmer and Lemsterland is more than just water sports: real land rot is also very suitable in this area. For example, you can take a very interesting village walk in Lemmer. A visit to the Diving Museum is also worthwhile. The history of Lemmer and the surrounding area is depicted in Streekmuseum / Oudheidkamer "Lemster Fiifgea".

Of course in the description of Lemmer the "Ir. D.F. Woudagemaal" can not be omitted. The largest working steam pumping station in the world awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Not to be missed when you are in the area!

Cyclists can indulge themselves in the area thanks to the Fietsroutenetwerk Zuidwest Friesland (Southwest Friesland Cycling Route Network). This is formed by a system of route related nodes, on the basis of which you can compile your own route. Many of the connections that make up the network are also accessible to motorcycles. If you are not just a fan of motorcycling, but also old motorcycles, then the Indian Motor Museum in Lemmer is a wonderful opportunity.

No matter which way you travel, this area will pleasantly surprise you. The vast landscape, the beautiful views, the impressive cloudy skies; the many monumental farms, the windmills, the churches, and the so-called bell seats; and last but not least nature: Lake Tjeukemeer and the surrounding natural areas are a paradise for many species of water and meadow birds. In addition, in a number of scattered plots of reed land in the Echtenerfeanpolder there is a rare flora and fauna. All combined, it forms a wonderful backdrop for your stay.

The name of this region is derived from the former municipality with the same name, of which this area roughly formed the eastern half. Schoterland was also the name of one of the constituencies in Friesland in the nineteenth century. In 1888, this district chose Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis as the first socialist ever in the "Tweede kamer" (House of Commons). This pastor, freethinker, socialist and anti-militarist had made a special effort to improve the miserable living and working conditions of peat workers in the area. The extraction of peat soils has left an important mark on the (social) history of the area. And in today’s landscape, the imprint of the era is still very clearly visible.

In order to drain the peat, Heerenveen had started digging the Schoterlandse Compagnonsvaart in the mid-sixteenth century. Over the course of the centuries, this development was continued little by little to the east. Because of the landscape rising slowly, locks were needed. The first lock was situated near to the current village of Bontebok, the second to the north of Oudehorne and the third to the current Jubbega, which was designated as the "Third Lock" until well into the twentieth century. A regular system of smaller waterways and ditches and, in the higher areas, roads were created on both sides of the main access. When giving names to all those so-called "neighborhoods" (Wijken), the ingenuity was not the same everywhere: in the Hoornsterzwaagstercompagnie, the area east of Jubbega, people did not exceed the level of "1e Wijk", "2e Wijk" and so forth, up to and including "19e Wijk."

After the peat excavation has finished, the land was not immediately suitable for use in most places: in the lower areas it was too wet or even submerged underwater, and the higher sandy soils were not very fertile. The landscape looked rather desolate and many residents led a languishing existence. Bit by bit the land was cultivated, mostly by the residents themselves. Because of the small scale and slow development, nature was given the opportunity to recover.

The history of its origins has resulted in a beautiful, varied landscape in which on the one hand the influence of man is very clearly visible and on the other hand nature has again conquered an emphatic place. A straightforward infrastructure and systematic allotment, open grassland areas, small-scale lands surrounded by tree walls, woodlands, heathland. The landscape here has many flavors that can be "tasted" in several ways: by bicycle, on foot, on horseback, by boat or canoe.

The area has two "official" nature reserve areas. West of Nieuwehorne lies the Ketliker Skar, a very varied, more than 400-hectare nature reserve that consists of heathland, grassland, water, and cultivated forest. In addition to a few walking routes, manager It Fryske Gea has also constructed a circular wheelchair-friendly path of approximately 2.5 kilometers. Southeast of Oudehorne is the Kiekenberg and the Tolheksbos, both of which are part of the Tjongervallei nature reserve.

The villages of Nieuwehorne and Oudehorne organize annually, on the last Saturday of September, the so-called Flaeijelfeest (Flaeijel = flail). During this traditional harvest and threshing festival, all facets of past life in the countryside are presented. The event attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year.

This unique region with its socially eventful history, its structure entirely formed by human hands and hard labor, its tangible and visible cultural history and its landscape and natural qualities could actually have been summarized in one word: intriguing! Because who can restrain his curiosity and fantasy when reading names such as Bontebok, Spekpôlledraai, Belgian Quarter, Luxembourg, Prikkedaam and Sing Sang (a road between Bontebok and Jonkerslân).


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