Bergen 18km – Groene Wissel

Nature area with sand dunes, heather, forest and beach – March 2018

A highland cow – Bergen aan Zee


This hike goes through one of my favorite nature areas in the Netherlands, the Schoorlse Duinen. This area is quite extensive and has a lot of variety. It combines sand dunes, which are the highest of the Netherlands, with forest, beach and open heather grounds. The nice village of Bergen lies on the route and is a good place for a lunch stop or a drink on a terrace. Overall we enjoyed this hike very much in the beginning of springtime and we think it is even better in summertime.

Bergen, the old ruin church

Description trail

The hike starts in or close to Bergen, depending on where you park your car or which bus you choose (see general/ details for how to get there). We started just outside the village of Bergen and therefore added the Sparrenlaan to this hike. Originally this is not part of the Groene Wissel hike but definitely worth to go through it. The old Scots pines have become interesting shapes which make this lane very photogenic.

Bergen, Sparrenlaan. Impressive old high Scots pines.

A bit further you enter Bergen, nowadays a touristic spot and often the starting point of hike or bike tours through nature. It is also known for the hub of artists, from painters to writers of poetry. Bergen is claimed to have The Light that enables the creation of beautiful paintings.

In Bergen you pass the old Ruin Church, which was initially built in the 15th century. It was burnt down during the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648) but later on partially rebuilt.

There are a lot of nice terraces in Bergen so it might be a very good stop for a drink or lunch.

Nature area Schoorlse Duinen

Once you leave Bergen, you enter the pine forest. This forest was planted around 100 years ago. At that time the sand dunes only consisted of very lose sand that was easily controlled by the wind. By planting pine trees and marram grass the dunes became a solid barrier and protection against the sea.

The closer you get to the sea, the more open spaces you will see, with somestimes also heather on it.

Bergen aan Zee beach, horse riding

Almost halfway the trail you enter the beach on which you continue the hike for ~3,5 kms. The beach is quite wide and nice. You will see people letting their dogs but also a lot of horseriders who can go very fast in this big open space. I think this place is very photogenic and therefore a good place to take pictures.

Bergen aan Zee beach, a photogenous place

In the summertime, or often already starting beginning of April, the beach tents are open for a drink or something to eat. We were there end of March and they were still busy rebuilding those tents for the new season.

At the end of the beach the path goes back into the dunes again and you can see the village Bergen aan Zee just on the side of it. There we came across the impressive highland cow which even posed for me.

Me in the pine forest in the Schoorlse Duinen nature area.

The hike then continues through the beautiful Schoorlse Duinen with its open spaces and dunes of lose sand and ends in the pine forest and back at the parking spot.


Overview of the route Bergen 18km – Groene Wissel. For the gpx file please see further below

Start and Finish: Bergen center of the village

Type: circular route

Length: 18 km

Difficulty: easy

Terrain: mostly sandpath, sometimes very lose sand, hills of  25-30 height difference.

How to get there? By car: you can easily park your car in Bergen, at parking place Binenhof, but is expensive and can cost you as much as 1,90 EUR per hour. However, we found a free parking spot on the Eeuwigelaan, just outside Bergen (see map). Public transport: You can also get there by bus, several buses go to Bergen, e.g. nr 6 which comes from Alkmaar, busstop Bergen-Plein.

Restaurants underway? Yes, close to the starting/finish point in Bergen and during april-september also halfway on the beach. Alternatively, you can go slightly off track and find restaurants in Bergen aan Zee, next to the beach.


Medemblik 14 km – Groene Wissel

Medemblik historical centre, along the Ijsselmeer shore and through the polder (Grote Vliet nature area) – March 2018

Medemblik, harbour


This Groene Wissel trail is a nice combination of the old historical centre and picturesque harbour of Medemblik, the shore with views over the Ijsselmeer followed by the Grote Vliet area which is a bird’s paradise. The last part of the trail (several kilometers) were less interesting since it followed a broader asphalt road and a not so appealing neighborhood of Medemblik. I think you can combine this hike very well with lots of fun additional activities, e.g. going with the Steam tram, enjoying a drink on a terrace in picturesque Medemblik, play minigolf in Medemblik or pay a visit to the Steam Engine Museum and Castle Radboud. Overall we enjoyed the hike.

Medemblik, Koningin Emmapark, the home of a few lamas.

Description trail

The trail starts at the Steamtram station and first goes through the historical part of Medemblik. This little town dates back from before the middle ages and there are a lot of houses with old facades. The route continues through the harbour with its small private yachts.

Medemblik, along the Ijsselmeer shore

Just before the trail turns to the Ijselmeer shore, it goes through the Koningin Emmapark which is the home of a couple of lamas.

At the time of our hike there, it was freezing cold with a very strong wind. Although the weather didnot feel very comfortable, it created stunning icicles along the shore.

Medemblik, icicles along the Ijsselmeer shore

Some parts of the dike were very icy, however, alternatively you can go through the park or the grass next to it if it is too slippery. There were a lot of seabirds that could be watched from the shore. During summertime, in some spots along the shore, swimming is possible and you can even sunbath on the little beach. However, at the time we were there, only people wearing extremely warm clothes dared to hike along the shore.

Medemblik, Dutch Steam Engine Museum (Nederlands Stoommachinemuseum)

Almost halfway you enter the village Onderdijk where you can have a break for a simple lunch or a drink in Cafe Restaurant De Welkomst. We enjoyed our lunch there and we were very pleased with the friendliness of the lady who worked there.

Grote Vliet, nature area, birds’ paradise

After Onderdijk, the trail enters the nature area of the Grote Vliet. In case you like birding you definitely should bring a camera with telelens or binoculars since this will be generously rewarded. I only brought my small camera which had battery difficulties because of the cold so it was hard to take pictures anyway.

A door in picturesque Medemblik

After the nature area, the hike becomes less interesting but still has some nice spots like the old windmill on the Brakeweg. The hike ends in Medemblik with its nice harbour and picturesque houses of the old city centre. There, in summertime, it can be very lively with lots of terraces, a perfect end to this hike.


Overview Medemblik 14 km Groene Wissel trail. For the gpx file see further below

Start and Finish: Medemblik, steamtrain railway station

Type: circular route

Length: 14 km

Difficulty: easy

Terrain:  sand path and asphalt, flat

How to get there? By car: you can park your car next to the steamtram station. Alternatively, if this spot is full, there is free parking on the road outside the historical center and then you might need to walk at maximum a couple of hundred of meters to the start. Public transport:  Near the Steamtram station, the busstation is located. Different busses (numbers 139, 239, 415) come from Hoorn which has a trainstation.  You can also get there by steamtram coming from Hoorn or take the ferry from Enkhuizen (see links further below)

Restaurants underway? Yes, close to the starting/finish point in Medemblik and halfway in Onderdijk.

Additional activities underway:

– Steamtram: an old steam tram runs from Hoorn to Medemblik and vice versa. This tram runs from april until november.

– Ferry Enkhuizen-Medemblik: an authentic ferry runs between Enkhuizen and Medemblik and can be well combined with a ride in the old steamtram. The ferry usually runs from april until november. 

– Minigolf in Medemblik: next to restaurant Koekenbier in Koningin Emmapark in Medemblik.

– Castle Radboud: for a drink / lunch or an exhibition about the middle ages. At the time of our hike it was closed for renovation activities but it should reopen again  in Spring 2018.

– Steam engine museum: here you can learn all about steam engines and watch it working.


Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen 12,5 km

Lots of deer at close distance – Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

Deer and sometimes foxes in beautiful dunes – March 2018


Hiking in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen is one of my favorite activities. I like the landscape of dunes mixed with forest but even more the almost 100% chance to see wildlife, at least deer but also possibly foxes. It is a great place to take pictures, so do not forget to bring your camera! The route described follows wider asphalt roads, trails next to the canals but also small sandpath trails that are slightly harder to hike. They all have their charms and bring variety to the hike. Highly recommended!

Description trail

Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

The hike starts at the entrance Oase where you can buy your ticket to enter the park (1,50 eur each person). The first part of the trail follows a wide sandpath. Usually, close to the entrance, you will see a lot of other visitors since the park is very popular.

A deer in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

Once the hike turns into a smaller trail, it gets more quiet and the chance of seeing deer becomes much higher. The pictures of deer in this blog were taken with a digital srl camera with a 75-300mm lens combined with a tripod. I would recommend to take at least a 200 mm (zoom)lens with you in order to be able to make close ups. The deer are not extremely shy but when you get closer than ~20-30 metres they will run away.

Footpath in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

This time while hiking in the Waterleidingduinen we didnot see any foxes but 1 out of ~5 times that I hiked there I did see some, so next time better luck.

Deers in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

During the trail you will notice that the water in the canals of the dunes is cristal clear. This water is used for drinking water and the sand of the dunes works as a filter to further clean the water. 70 million m3 of water is filtered in these dunes on a yearly basis and this water makes up 2/3 of the drinking water in Amsterdam.

A canal in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

The park itself is only accessible for hikers and not for bikers or cars. This makes it a very quiet and attractive park for hiking. Further, it is allowed to go outside the trails which you might want to in order to get that really “wow” picture!


Map of the trail, further below you can download the gpx file

Start and Finish: Entrance Waterleidingduinen at Oase, Vogelenzang. At the entrance you will need to buy a ticket of 1,50 Eur as a fee for the park.

Type: circular route

Length: 12,5 km

Difficulty: easy

Terrain: mostly sandpath, some asphalt trails, small hills (not more than 30-50 meters high)

How to get there? By car: you can easily park your car next to the entrance Oase, which costs you 2,- Eur parking fee.  Public transport: You can also get there by bus, nr 9, stop “Vogelenzang, Waterleiding” (this bus comes from trainstation Heemstede-Aerdenhout.). The busstop is located ~150 meter from the entrance of the parc.

Restaurants underway? Only at the starting/finish point, restaurant “Uitspanning de Oase”.



Castricum ~10 km

The Pancake-Forest route, ~10 km

Castricum forest area


Nice forest area if you like to hike for a couple of hours and happen to be in the area. Recommended for spending an afternoon in the forest, however, I wouldnot recommend to travel much time for it since there are many of such nice forest areas in the Netherlands, possibly closer by than this one.

Description trail

The route starts at the railway station of Castricum and enters the forest already after 5-10 minutes of hiking. Initially we tried to hike the “groene wissel”-route as described in the book “Groene Wissels, Noord Holland, 20 wandelingen” by Bart van der Schagt. However, just after entering the forest we found a little route block and got lost from the route.

Castricum forest area

Nevermind, the forest is very nice with many different paths so we decided to take the best looking path that pointed more or less towards the restaurant “Johanna’s Hof” and enjoyed the hike.

Most of the route is a nice forest with now and then open spots. The restaurant was halfway of the total route and the pancakes tasted delicious.

A delicious pancake at Johanna’s Hof

After the restaurant we could mostly follow the intended groene-wissel route again.

Overall, a nice forest hike for a sunny winterday.

Overview trail Castricum 10 km


Start and Finish: Castricum railway station

Type: circular route

Length: 10 km

Difficulty: easy

Terrain: mostly sandpath, flat

How to get there? By car: you can easily park your car next to the railway station. Public transport: You can also get there by train.

Restaurants underway? Yes, at the starting/finish point and halfway. Recommended halfway for a pancake, open daily for lunch and dinner.