Discover Zeeland province on your bicycle using Duin Hotel near the village of Burgh- Haamstede as your home base. Duin Hotel is in a blissfully peaceful location: in the dunes, 30 minutes’ walk from the beach. If what you are looking for is peace, then look no further. Zeeland province on the south-western coast of the Netherlands is a promise of wind, water, sunshine and solitude. Your home base is on a lovely island called Schouwen-Duiveland. A stupendous beach and windswept dunes dominate the western point whilst the rest of the island is rural with scattered villages and a delightful historical town called Zierikzee, a real treasure. If you are interested in the Netherlands’ continuing battle against the water, you may like to know that our bike route takes you right across two of the sea barriers that make up the world-famous Delta Works.
If you are travelling by public transport please note that the train will get you only as far as Rotterdam or Middelburg. There is a regular bus service to Burgh-Haamstede for the last leg of your journey. The “airport” in the vicinity of the hotel is used as a take-off runway for gliders. There’s no noise nuisance, only a slight whirring sound.
Today you will cross the Oosterschelde sea-arm riding atop the Storm Surge Barrier. The sixty-two steel gates in the barrier are nearly always open, letting in seawater, but can be closed if a big storm is brewing to protect the hinterland from flooding. Designing and building this Storm Surge Barrier (1986) was an extraordinary feat of hydraulic engineering, the jewel in the crown of the thirteen Delta Works that have safeguarded Zeeland from deadly storms. Unfortunately, there seems to have been an unforeseen negative impact on the saline environment the Dutch were trying so hard to preserve in the sea-arm. The mudflats are eroding away because the tide is no longer bringing in enough sediment. As mudflats are an important habitat for many species such as waders feeding on oysters, mussels and clams, wildlife numbers could well start to dwindle. Moreover, the mudflats in themselves are currently an extra barrier to help protect the hinterland from flooding so their disappearance could theoretically increase wave action and flood risk. The sea-arm and its coastline have been given ‘National Park’ status to help preserve marine flora and fauna. So far, it continues to attract divers, tourists and bird spotters. Today’s route continues on the isle of Noord-Beveland, the smallest and most tranquil of Zeeland’s islands. Before the Delta Works opened it up to visitors relatively recently, it was secluded and stilled in time. Catch a ferry to the isle of Walcheren. The picturesque village of Veere (1296) is a good place to have a fine lunch of locally caught seafood. Originally a fishing port, it soon started to prosper thanks to shipping and trade. For centuries there were close ties with Scotland: trading relations and even royal relations. Veere had sole rights to import and trade Scottish goods in the Netherlands. In return the Scots were granted all kinds of privileges in the town of Veere. Can you find their traces? If you have a sweet tooth, visit the traditional sweet shop to purchase Zeeuwse Babbelaars, typical for Zeeland.
Today you will go on a tour of the isle of Schouwen-Duiveland. Your first stop is Slot Haamstede, which encompasses a moated (haunted!) castle, a country estate, woods and a nature reserve grazed by Shetland ponies. Then set course for Renesse, well-loved for its beautiful beaches. Sit down at one of the charming beach pavilions for a well-earned cup of coffee and a big piece of apple tart. Subsequently, a ride through tranquil countryside will lead to the Eastern Scheldt sea-arm. The land along this coast is being allowed to return to its original, natural, wetter, brackish state. This is being done to help the bird population. A few kilometres south of Burgh-Haamstede a lonely church tower is the only remnant of what was once the village of Koudekerke, washed away in the waves. Climb the tower for interesting views. The mudflats are submerged at high tide, but at low tide you can see them. This is when the sea leaves behind a banquet for the many species of waders that then come to forage. The mudflats are also a welcome place for seals to rest in the sunshine. Can you spot any? Some people get lucky and see harbour porpoises (related to the dolphin) swimming along the coast. The church tower, called Plompe Toren, has been turned into a tiny visitor’s centre focussing on local history, legend and wildlife. Back in twin villages Burgh and Haamstede, there is yet more to see. Museum De Burghse Schoole, in an 1843 school building, is open most afternoons. One room has been turned back into an old-fashioned class room, perfect in every detail. In the other room there’s a permanent exhibition explaining all about the origins of Burgh.
Cross 6 km Brouwers Dam to the isle of Goeree-Overflakkee. The dam is part of the Delta Works and separates Lake Grevelingenmeer from the North Sea. There is no tide or current in the lake so the water is very clear. A sluice was built into the dam to let seawater into the lake ensuring the continuation of mussel and oyster farming. Ouddorp village attracts holiday makers and water sports enthusiasts. Sit down at one of the many pavement cafes and ask for “bolus”, tender cinnamon pastry covered in sticky syrup, a Zeeland speciality. Some bakeries still sell “palingbroodje”. It’s like a sausage roll only it’s filled with eel (fish) instead of sausage. It’s a Zeeland speciality traditionally eaten warm, on special occasions, with a cup of tea. On Goeree attempts are being made to give parts of the land back to nature as you will see when you continue today’s bicycle route.
If you like, you could dedicate this day to visiting Zierikzee, one of the cultural highlights of this holiday. Many centuries ago the town grew prosperous thanks to trade and shipping. After it fell into decline there were no resources to demolish and replace the old houses. So they still stand today, for all to admire. Five hundred and sixty-eight lovingly restored monuments and a medieval street plan. Try one of the city walks and keep your camera at the ready. Maritiem Museum recounts stories of the town’s seafaring and trading glory days. It is housed in the former prison. Stadhuismuseum focuses on the relationship between town, sea and countryside. From mid-July to the end of August a ferry can take you from Zierikzee back to Burgh-Haamstede. Should you prefer, you could opt to use this last day to visit Delta Park Neeltje Jans, a top tourist attraction. At the centre of the park is the Delta Expo which explains everything you ever wanted to know about the Delta Works designed to prevent a repeat of the catastrophic 1953 floods. In Topshuis you can find an exhibition on Oosterschelde National Park. There’s also a saltwater aquarium, a sea lion show, a playground, an amazing water slide and more. You will find Delta Park Neeltje Jans halfway across the Storm Surge Barrier Oosterscheldekering.
After breakfast, it’s time to go home.
|Daily from April 1 till September 25.|
|Single room, breakfast||2020-04-01 - 2020-06-30||635.00|
|2020-07-01 - 2020-08-31||685.00|
|Double room, breakfast||485.00|
|Extra night (breakfast only)||70.00|
|Bike Breakdown pass||€ 2.75 x 5||13.75|
|Child seat||€ 5.00 x 5||25.00|
|Bike theft insurance||€ 3.00 x 5||15.00|
|E-bike theft insurance||€ 6.00 x 5||30.00|
|Add on bike||€ 6.00 x 5||30.00|
|Child trailer||€ 17.50 x 5||87.50|
Burgh-Haamstede - Fletcher Duinhotel****
5 Nights included
4 Star Hotel
Breakfast included, Halfboard optional
Tourist information on all the places of interest
The possibility of renting our bikes
7-days a week service-hotline
Parking possibilities at the hotel
Any ferry crossings are not included
...The hotel we were at did not have a great variety of food. So being on the meal plan meant eating some of the same foods repeatedly. But over all it was nice. Loved the little towns along the way...