stage 1: estuary ‘t Zwin

estuary ‘t Zwin

estuary ‘t Zwin (BE) to river Lek (NL)

  • Length: 280 km (175 miles) in 14 sections.
  • Terrain: flat

​This is the first stage of the trail, stretching from estuary ‘t Zwin (early-medieval name: Scincfal or sincfalam) near the city of Ghent in Belgium to the river Lek river, a branch of the river Rhine at the town of Wijk bij Duurstede (former Dorestat) in the Netherlands. There is also an ‘t Zwin in the Netherlands which you will pass during stage 4 near the village of Elahuizen. So, check you are at the right ‘t Zwin.

Trail Directions
  • section 1.1: ‘t Zwin – Breskens (PM)
  • section 1.2: Vlissingen – Breezand (PM)
  • section 1.3: Breezand – Burgh Haamstede (PM)
  • section 1.4: Burgh Haamstede – Zierikzee (PM)
  • section 1.5: Zierikzee – Bruinisse (PM)
  • section 1.6: Bruinisse – Sint-Philipsland (PM)
  • section 1.7: Sint-Philipsland – Dintelmond (PM)
  • section 1.8: Dintelmond – Numansdorp (PM)
  • section 1.9: Numansdorp – De Wacht (PM)
  • section 1.10 : De Wacht – ferry Kop van Het Land/NP Biesbosch (PM)
  • section 1.11: ferry Kop van Het Land/NP Biesbosch – Werkendam (PM)
  • section 1.12: Werkendam – Leerdam (PM)
  • section 1.13: Leerdam – Culemborg (PM)
  • section 1.14: Culemborg – Wijk bij Duurstede (PM)

According to the early-medieval law code the Lex Frisionum ‘Law of the Frisians’ this area belonged to the sub-region West Frisia, the area inter Fli et Sincfalam ‘between the river Vie and ‘t Zwin’.

This stage covers the Netherlands’ Delta of the three mighty rivers the Scheldt, the Meuse and the Rhine. First hiking close to the coast of the North Sea, and get an impression of the enormous Delta Works with the huge storm surge barriers in the river Scheldt. Then walking northeast, leaving the North Sea coast, via National Park De Biesbosch through the river-land area, in the direction of the city of Utrecht. 

​In the Roman Period the area along the coast south of the river Rhine (i.e. present-day provinces Zeeland and Zuid Holland) was the territory of the Frisiavones people, a to the Frisii (Frisians proper) related people living within Roman or Romanised society.

​After the fall of the Roman Empire and after the Migration Period, the (new) Frisians from north of the river Rhine extended their influence souht the river up to estuary ‘t Zwin, over the course of the sixth century.

​When you cross the river Scheldt, you enter the former island of the Walcheren. A place that was, during Roman and early-medieval times, an important stepping stone for the trade with the British Isles. It was even filled with Vikings receiving the benefits of the control over the river Scheldt. Read our blog post about the Walcheren and its heathen history.

​In the Early Middle Ages, especially during the seventh and eighth centuries, in the river-land area where the river Rhine splits into the river Waal and river Lek, the magnificent trade emporium Dorestat was situated, where today the city of Wijk bij Duurstede is standing over its remains. Strategically connecting the trade with the North Sea and the Frankish hinterland on the border between Frisia and Francia, and for a long a cosmopolitan town filled with Frisians, Anglo-Saxons, Norsemen and Franks. It is here where the Frisian King Redbad (also Radbod) fought his battles with the Frankish empire at the beginning of the eighth century; read our blog post about this (in)famous king, known by his pet name ‘The Enemy of God’ as well.

​For a first, visual impression of this stage, click here.

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