stage 3: river (oer) IJ

river (Oer) IJ

river (Oer) IJ (NL) to river Vlie (NL)

  • Length: 276 km (171 miles) in 13 sections
  • Terrain: mostly flat except section 3.8 

​From the river (Oer) IJ to the area called Wieringen, for centuries an island, where once the river Vlie separated West Frisia (present-day provinces North Holland, South Holland and Zeeland) from Mid- or Central Frisia (present-day province Friesland).

Trail directions
  • section 3.1: Island Marken – Den Ilp (PM)
  • section 3.2: Den Ilp – Wormerveer (PM)
  • section 3.3: Wormerveer – Spaarnwoude (PM)
  • section 3.4: Spaarnwoude – Haarlem (PM)
  • section 3.5: Haarlem – Velsen Zuid (PM)
  • section 3.6: Velsen Noord – Egmond Binnen 
  • section 3.7: Egmond Binnen – Schoorl aan Zee (PM)
  • section 3.8: Schoorl aan Zee – Schagen (PM)
  • section 3.9: Schagen – Medemblik (PM)
  • section 3.10: Medemblik – Wieringerwerf (PM)
  • section 3.11: Wieringerwerf – Westerland (PM)
  • section 3.12: Westerland – Den Oever ​Download or read online
  • section 3.13: Den Oever – Kop Afsluitdijk Download or read online

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 river Vie and estuary ‘t Zwin).

​After stage 2 you return at the North Sea coast, and hike along one of Europe’s broadest and longest beaches. Behind these superb beaches is the typical dune landscape. It is the region Kinnin or today’s name: Kennemerland. This includes Nature Park De Schoorlse Duinen, the broadest dune-area in the Netherlands, and with 55 metres the highest point of the Frisia Coast Trail too. So, come prepared for high altitude.

From the coast you hike east into the region Westfriesland, enclosed by its Omringdijk. A circular dike enclosing the whole region, a dike of nearly a 1,000 years old. The dam indicates a change of landscape, from the sandy beaches and dunes of the North Sea coast into former wet peat areas. During the early Middle Ages and before, this impenetrable landscape made up a third of current Netherlands.

​From Westfriesland you turn north, toward the former island of Wiron or Wieringen as it is called today. During the Viking Age this might have been a stronghold of Vikings (or native occupational Frisian Vikings), indicated by no less than three hoards that have been found here. Or, were it Frisians behaving like Vikings? Also, watch out for the Necker (Nykr, in Old-Norwegian). A grey water spirit that lures people with his harp play to the depths of the sea.

From the eastern point of this former island you cross the 31 km of water along the Enclosure Dam, splitting a sea into two, almost like Moses and the Red Sea. 


At the river (Oer) IJ the Roman Empire suffered serious defeats against the Frisians at Bahundenna woods, and their castellum ‘castle’ Flevum at the present-day town Velsen was destroyed. When crossing the river (Oer) IJ to the north, you enter what was in Roman times called the territory of the Frisii minores ‘minor Frisians’ more or less modern province Noord Holland.

​The region Kennemerland, especially the area around Egmond aan Zee, Heiloo and Castricum is found to be a Central-Place-Complex, similar as can be found in southern Scandinavia. This indicates an elite powerbase during the Early Middle Ages. The old name of Egmond was Hallem, not be confused with the village Hallum in province Friesland. This name suggest the former presence of a hall, as we know from the Old-English epic Beowulf. It has been suggested that the Viking dukes ruling on behalf of the Frankish kings over West Frisia had their seat in this region. Of course, the Abbey Adalbert in Egmond-Binnen is the oldest in the Netherlands, and was important for the counts of West Frisia, who later renamed themselves counts of Holland. Read our blog post The Abbey of Egmond and the Rise of the Gerulfings.

​During the High Middle Ages region Westfriesland was the first of the Seven Sealands. But the free republic Westfriesland had to admit its defeat after two centuries of battle against the counts of West Frisia (later to become the counts of Holland, as said). Read more about the history of Westfriesland in our blog post. For long the western part of the Netherlands was named Holland and Westfriesland. Still Westfrisians consider themselves a specific region with its own separate speech derived from Old-Frisian and Dutch.

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

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