The Northern Frisian Woodlands is the largest and best preserved cultural landscape of its kind. A hedgerow landscape with a remarkable feel of intimacy, thanks to the characteristic small scale farmland parcels surrounded by rows of planted alder trees. The rows of trees serve as windbreaks and are home to many bird and plant species. Over 300 small ponds, scattered across the region, are proof of the region’s history dating back to the Ice Age. The Northern Frisian Woodlands has been declared a national landscape, meaning the region’s unique combination of agriculture, nature and cultural history is nationally recognized.
The Northern Frisian Woodlands is a centuries old peatland area. Peat extraction reached its peak early in the 20th century. Nowadays, the charming rural landscape is managed by a cooperative of farmers. They maintain the unique elements of the landscape and preserve its natural values. We highly recommend this article (in English) which clearly explains how local farmers integrate landscape management with environmental conservation.
The region was still unknown to us, so we were keen to discover this typical hedgerow landscape east of Leeuwarden. We chose to stay at a B&B in one of the small villages (De Tike). We rented bicycles and dove into the scenery: a continuous patchwork of fields surrounded by hedges interspersed with lakes and ponds. Dirt tracks, cockleshell paths decorated with blackberry bushes and bulging brick roads led us through meadows and friendly villages. We made a stopover at a small supermarket and bought ourselves fresh lunch. The numerous picnic benches along the way invited for a break. We knew the day was complete when we finished drinking a beer at the main square of charming Eastermar.
Very nearby and very worthy of your time is National Park De Alde Faenen. Combine your visit to the Frisian Woodlands with a day or two at this nature reserve, which provides a range of different landscapes, activities and species. It houses one of the largest wetlands in western Europe. Pools, wetlands, reedlands, bogs, scrublands and heathland can be explored by foot or by bike, yet even better by kayak or sailing boat. Good starting points for information are the visitor centre next to campsite It Wiid. A smaller and more idyllic campsite is Outdoor Veldboom. Guests may use mountainbikes and canoes for free.
- Costs: rent of your bike, usually around €7 / day for a regular bicycle (bring cash).
- Address: Without a car, the best starting point to explore the Northern Frisian Woodlands is Burgum (53.191785, 5.992981), about 30 minutes by bus from Leeuwarden. The visitor centre national park De Alde Feanen is located at Koaidyk 8a in Eernewoude (53.129898, 5.944992). Plan your journey at 9292.nl/en.
- More info: click here for a map of the Northern Frisian Woodlands. Ask your local host for bike rental options, e.g. this bicycle shop in Burgum. A map of national park De Alde Faenen can be found here.
- Bring: rain coat, binoculars and camera.
- Wikiloc: click here for our trail (41 km) or visit route.nl for the entire track (127 km) or when you start from Burgum.