Estuary the Zwin (BE) to River Lek (NL)
- Length: 295 km (185 miles) in 14 sections.
- Terrain: flat
This is the first stage of the trail, stretching from Estuary the Zwin (early-medieval name: Scincfal or sincfalam) near the town of Knokke in Belgium, to the River Lek, a branch of the River Rhine at the town of Wijk bij Duurstede (former Dorestat) in the Netherlands. There is also a Zwin in the Netherlands which you will pass during stage 4 near the village of Elahuizen, province Friesland. So, check you are positioned at the right Zwin when starting the Frisia Coast Trail.
- 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 (former) River Vie and Estuary the Zwin’.
This stage covers the Netherlands’ Delta of the three mighty rivers Scheldt, Meuse and Rhine. The hike starts at Estuary the Zwin in region West Flanders. Once an inter-tidal region intersected by streams and creeks connected with the North Sea. A landscape of salt marshes and dunes, where sheep farming was an important economic activity for centuries on end. After leaving Estuary the Zwin behind you, the trail continues close to the coast of the North Sea entering province Zeeland. Here you will get an impression of the enormous Delta Works with among other the huge storm surge barriers in the River East-Scheldt. From Zeeland the route heads northeast, leaving the North Sea coast, and via National Park De Biesbosch through the central river-land area of the Netherlands, 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 Cananefates and the Frisiavones peoples. The Frisiavones were 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 south up to the Estuary the Zwin in the course of the sixth century. In the High Middle Ages Estuary the Zwin was crucial for the rise of the city of Brugges, until this city got into decline during the Late Middle Ages.
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.
Once your crossed the River Nieuwe Merwede with the ferry at Kop van het Land, you enter National Park De Biesbosch. The best way to explore this area is via the water with a canoe, boat or sup. After you reached the town of Werkendam the trail continues along the UNESCO-listed (since 2021) Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie ‘New Dutch Waterline’, which is a series of water-based defense systems of forts and natural bodies of water, including the possibility to inundate large section of land. The Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie runs from the town of Muiden in the north to National Park De Biesbosch at Werkendam in the south. The trail will follow the Waterline all the way to Muiden (see stage 2).
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 the River Lek, the magnificent trade emporium Dorestat was situated. Where today the town 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 heathen Frisians and Norsemen and with christian, Anglo-Saxons and Franks. It is here where the Frisian King Radbod (also Redbad) 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 cute pet name ‘The Enemy of God’ as well.
- It all began with piracy
- With the white rabbit down the hole
- The Batwing Doors of Northwest Europe
- Merciless medieval merchants
- Atlantis found! Wait, there is another one, or 7, wait 12 in total… No, 19!
- Rats with wings or Masters of the Sky
- The United Frisian Emirates and Black Peat
- Take a virtual hike through Zuid-Holland and Utrecht
- Is Magna Frisia fact or fiction?
- Porcupines bore U.S. bucks
- Follow the footsteps of Five Frisian Kings
- King Redbad’s last act
- Why was Redbad skinny dipping in eau de Cologne?
- Did you dance with the blue light, yet?
- The battles of Redbad, unplugged
- Island the Walcheren: once Sodom and Gomorrah of the North Sea
- The biography of Aldgisl, unplugged
- Tolkien pleaded in favor of King Finn
- True Pirates of the Caribbean
For a first, visual impression of this stage, click here.