Monday, July 22, 2013
Cycling and Sailing Holiday in The Netherlands: Island Hopping Day 3
Terschelling is the second largest Wadden island and has a lot to offer in the way of beach, natural beauty, landscape, attractions, museums and cycle paths.
We rode a route that shows us all sides of the island: the wide dunes area with access to the beaches, the sheltered area behind the dunes, the cheerful villages with various attractions, the quiet, expansive polders and the Waddendijkpad (Wadden dike path) with fantastic views of the Wadden.
The ‘kooibosjes’ (cage woods) are typical of Terschelling: small primaeval forests between boggy meadows and plots of alder thickets.
The valuable nature reserve the Bosplaat or Boschplaat sits on the eastern part of Terschelling and is nearly ten kilometres in length. The reserve originated after a 'stuifdijjk' ('drifting dike') was made here between 1932 and 1936, thus permanently connecting a formerly separate sandbank with Terschelling. A rich mudflat vegetation grew up on the sand bar, with wide stretches of sea lavender (Limonium Vulgare), 'zeealsem' (Seriphidium Maritimum, a plant similar to sagebrush), Atriplex Pedunculatus and many other salt-loving plants. Many birds nest on the Boschplaat, such as the spoonbill, great tern, northern tern, common tern, little tern, the lesser black-blacked gull, great black-blacked gull, herring gull, common gull, great cormorant and other types of birds. The Boschplaat has been given the status of European Nature Reserve.
In the dunes we came across the cranberry. This plant, originally from America, came to the island when a barrel containing the berries was washed ashore in 1845. The locals still call the cranberry 'Pieter Sipkes heather', after the finder of the berry, Pieter Sipkes Cupido. The cranberry ran wild and was discovered by botanist Fransiscus Holtema in 1868 in a hollow in the dunes called Studentenplak.
Terschelling is the birthplace of Willem Barentsz who attempted to discover India in 1596 via the North Pole; on his third attempt he got stuck and had to spend the winter on Nova Zembla.
The famous lighthouse (the oldest in The Netherlands) is the Brandaris, built in 1594 to replace the St. Brandariskapel (St Brandaris Chapel) that was swallowed up by the sea.
Terschelling has a very active choir life. Art-lovers especially like the island because of the annual theatre festival 'Oerol'. This festival was started in 1981 by Joop Mulder, in those days owner of the 'Stoep' pub in Midsland. By now Oerol has developed into one of the biggest theatre festivals on location in Europe.