Why did we create the Frisia Coast Trail in the first place?
Do you know that feeling of having more hobbies than time? We do. We suffer from multiple areas of interest (MAI). Here are two examples.
We both like hiking
A lot. We did some cool hikes and visited all the continents, except Antarctica. We tramped in Japan, New Zealand, Chile, Greece, Nepal, Peru, Scotland, Wales, Corsica and Spain. But we never hiked our own soil… The Frisia Coast was high on our bucket list.
We both like Frisia
Little did we know about our own roots. Shame on us. High school was not even covering the juicy facts.
- The States of Friesland (Mid Frisia), one of the republics of the Seven United Republics of the Netherlands (later often shortend to Dutch Republic), was the first country in the world to officially vote to acknowledge the USA in the year 1782. Yes, Mister President Trump. America first, but Friesland certainly second.
- And Mister President, while we are at it, the Frisians were the founding fathers of Western Capitalism nearly 1,500 years ago.
- Nowhere in Europe has been dug up more silver and gold than here. Frisia coins and money all over western Europe.
- Two bad-ass kings from western Frisia challenged the wicked Roman Emperor Nero on his own turf: the Colosseum in Rome. And they lived to tell it another day!
- The epic of Beowulf, the Superman from around AD 450, is about “Game of Thrones-like” battles between the Jutes, the Danes and the Frisians, with King Finn of Frisia -son of Folcwald- and his son being slaughtered.
- The Frisian fighting skills were renowned in the Vatican, the Mediterranean and the Levant during the Crusades. The oldest church tower of Rome and the Vatican is even that of the Church of the Frisians. A stone’s throw from the also interesting Saint Pieter’s Basilica.
- And, then there is the definition of beauty: Doutzen Kroes (Giekerk, province Friesland) or Luisa Hartema (Leer, region Ostfriesland) to name only two. They are Frisian. But we do not blame high school for not educating us there. There we took the responsibility of self study in our own hands. It came naturally 😉
It started at university and continued in bars drinking beers
We decided to take courses at the Frisian Faculty of the universities of Groningen and of Amsterdam. And continued to explore facts for fun ever since. In the years to follow, we usually shared fun facts when drinking a beer or a Beerenburg (local liquor in Mid Frisia) and when done with the gossip. The stupid. The funny. The bold. The unknown. The amazing.
Then August 2016 came, I still remember what I was wearing…
Hans dropped a whats-app message somewhere in 2016. Since we have more hobbies than time and MAI is killing us. Hans proposed to combine the two them: hiking and (the history of) Frisia. The genius! Frans immediately understood the unrealistic ambition, but gave his support. The diplomat! Then again, if you do not dare to dream, how else can we be creative? Overconfidence is, as we all know, one of mankind’s driving force.
And, if we still value to the ideas of the hiker and philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche, hiking and creation and writing should go hand in hand. It was Nietzsche who said: “Remain seated as little as possible, put no trust in any thought that is not born in the open, to the accompaniment of free bodily motion — nor in one in which even the muscles do not celebrate a feast.” (Ecce Homo). And yes, Nietzsche was a fanatic walker.
This is how we started to develop the Frisia Coast Trail. We are adding all the fun stuff we learned over time and frame it into tracks and hikes that wander through a beautiful landscape.
The name of the trail was clear from the start: The Frisia Coast Trail, or as hikers love to do, the FCT. And, already it got a nickname. Since its a trail through the grass- and marshlands of cows and milk, its nicknamed the ‘Milky Way’.
Outlining the trail
We have divided the trail into nine stages, also to accommodate section hikers. Each stage is an area that can more or less be distinguished from the other by landscape and/or by history. You will see rivers play an important role in the history of these areas. Regional history and rivers are very much LinkedIn (click the stage-links bellow to get a visual impression). Historically, Frisia is subdivided into four areas belonging culturally and, to a lesser extent, politically to each other.
- Stage 1: From estuary ‘t Zwin (former Scincfal) in Belgium to the river Lek (a branch of the river Rhine) at Wijk bij Duurstede in the Netherlands. This area used to be part of West Frisia. Here the early-medieval and famous emporium Dorestat was located. This stage covers the Netherlands’ Delta of three mighty rivers, the Scheldt, the Meuse and the Rhine.
- Stage 2: From the river Lek to the river (Oer) IJ and the town of Velsen Zuid near the Netherlands’ capitol Amsterdam, where the Romans had to accept their limits, and halted their expansion after a major defeat against the Frisians. This whole area used to be part of West Frisia as well.
- Stage 3: From the river (Oer) IJ to Wieringen, once an island, where once the river Vlie separated provinces Noord Holland and Friesland from each other. Still, this whole stretch used to be part of West Frisia too. You walk partly along Europe’s broadest beaches of the North Sea and pass through a region carrying the name Westfriesland till this day (a region within province Noord Holland).
- Stage 4: From Wieringen to the river Lauwers, marking the border between the Netherlands’ provinces Friesland and Groningen. Now you enter the (former) salt-marsh area, an area also called Mid Frisia or sometimes Westerlauwers Friesland, or even confusingly West Frisia (meaning: west of the river Lauwers). From here until the end of the trail you walk along the Wadden Sea (UNESCO protected). Do take the opportunity to walk the sea to an island at low tide, especially during the stages 4 – 9.
- Stage 5: From the river Lauwers to the river Ems, marking the border of Groningen (the Netherlands) and region Ostfriesland or East Frisia (Germany). The (Frisian) Ommelanden region of province of Groningen was the salt-marsh area. This region was part of Mid Frisia too (never the city of Groningen).
- Stage 6: From the river Ems to the river Jade, marking the end of Region Ostfriesland or East Frisia (Germany), including Landkreis Friesland. Still hiking along the Wadden Sea, but the track also leads to Aurich where once the ‘Seven Sealands’ gathered at the ting called the Upstalboom.
- Stage 7: From the river Jade to the river Eider marking the beginning of Kreis Nordfriesland, or North Frisia, in Germany. This stage covers the German Bight, including the region Dithmarschen and the mythical red rock-island Heligoland where the goddess Fosete (Forsete) was being worshiped by the Frisians. From this region the Saxons and Angles migrated during the Migration Age to the east, to settle in Frisia and, of course, in the southeast of England.
- Stage 8: From the river Eider to the river Vidå (Widuu in North-Frisian language, meaning ‘widow’) marking the border with Denmark. During this stage you can still see ancient terps of Kreis Nordfriesland or North Frisia (Germany) ‘in action’ when surrounded by sea during seasonal flooding in autumn and winter.
- Stage 9: From the river Vidå to the river Ribe Å. Hiking the southwest of Jutland of Denmark to the town of Ribe, a trading town perhaps even founded by the Frisians. Ribe town marks the end of the Frisia Coast Trail.
Join us on our track, wish you a good hike or a fun read and feel free to contribute! We haven’t designed many tracks before. So, a little help is welcome.
The only trail we designed so far is (a one hour taxi drive) across five garages in Silicon Valley in the United States. Epic! These garages changed the world as we know it. This is where Steve Jobs (Apple, rip), Bill Gates (Mircosoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Page & Sergey Brin (Google) and Hewlett & Packard (HP) did their magic. Click here for the Silicon Valley Garage Trail.
It may be so that the Frisia Coast Trail dates way back in time. But it is also about shaping the world we live in. Remember the old saying “Deus mare, Friso litora fecit” (God created the sea, the Frisian the coast). To prove their case, Frisian ancestors started building the first dikes the same time Jesus started spreading His gospels. The result is the world’s biggest wood- and earthwork created by the hands of men, covering exactly the Frisia Coast Trail, and what is known as The Golden Ring. The Ring that rules them all.