It was Saturday April 2nd. Our alarm clock went off at 5 AM in the morning and at 6 AM we were on our way to Texel. Texel is one of the Northern Islands of the Netherlands and the place where we had our testing weekend. We wanted to familiarize us with walking with a backpack, my new shoes needed to be walked in and we were also curious if our new tent was waterproof. It was time to put it all to the test.
The weather predictions were great. A nice spring weekend was waiting for us and everybody in Holland knows that the Wadden Islands have the most sun hours of the Netherlands. As soon as we stepped out of the car we smelled the chill, fresh sea air. We could park our car right next to the ferry (for free) and we immediately gotten the outdoor feeling. Away in our own country. All we needed to do was board the ferry and were on our way.
In Holland we have a website called Wandelnet.nl (Dutch only) and here we found a two day hike which would lead us up the west coast of Texel. Day one would lead us half way the island, to the town of Koog, where we reserved a spot on a camping. Day two would lead us to the lighthouse in the most northern part of Texel. 40 kilometers in total. Something we were not used to anymore. I used to be a boy scout in the past and I have walked a lot of long distance hikes but this has been years ago. Jolien’s longest trip she had ever walked was 15K. Did we signed up for too much? We shall see.
The trail is easy to follow with a map and a good description of the route. Both are downloadable for the website. In the descriptions you can also read about all the nice things you can see along the way. So you are also your own guide as you walk.
When we embarked from the boat we immediately had to turn left across the dike. The beginning of the route brought us past the Mokbaai. Many gees welcomed us with their fun quacking and the sheep were curious about who was walking by now while we entered the National Park Dunes of Texel. The Mokbaai is in open connection with the sea. At high tide it all is flooded with salt water. A unique habitat originates and they call this saltmarshes and birds are really fond of it. Back in the 1800’s ships awaited favorable wind in this bay before they would set sail to the East Indies.
Our cameras were making overtime. There are so many birds on the island. Oystercatchers, Pheasants, Black-headed Gulls, Kluten, Sandpipers, etc. There were just too many we have seen. It took us 2 hours alone to walk the first 5K. Our pace was very low but we did not mind. There was just too much to see. The route will also takes you over Military practice grounds and past several small lakes. We could clearly see all the nests of breading Cormorants, flying back and forth, low shearing over the lake.
After about 5K we climbed over the dunes and we reached the beach. Hundreds of seagulls welcomed us and as we walked along over the beach they were flying ahead of us. We were in luck. It was low tide and this meant we could walk on firm sand close to the shoreline and it was not that hard. But perhaps this also had something to do with the fact we just started. This stretch was 3.3K long and after this the trail brought us back over the dunes into an area where Scottish Highlanders were grazing in peace. Even this small baby had all the time of the world to pose for us.
Slowly the kilometers added up. We started to feel our feet, legs and the number of pictures taken was declining. After we passed through the Forests of Westerduinen we entered the Bleekersvallei. This translates into bleachers valley. In the old days the women of the nearby villages washed their bedsheets in the crystal clear streams of this valley and laid them out to dry in the sun. The sun then scorched them pale. Hence the name of the valley.
After the valley we found ourselves walking on the beach again but this time only 1K. It felt a lot more because we were more exhausted. It was high tide so we had no choice but to walk through the mull sand. But were we getting closer to the town of Koog and our camping ground. In just 2K of walking through the dunes we entered the camping and we reported ourselves at the reception of Texel camping Koogerstrand.
We chose a nice spot high on a dune with an excellent view of the camping and its dunes. It truly is a nice camping and you are literally just 25 meters away from the beach. Our welcome party consisted of several Pheasants quietly searching for food. We shot these beautiful pictures of one with our camera.
After we just sat there for a while, catching our breath, it was time to pitch up our new tent, the MSR Mutha Hubba NX. This was our choice after weeks of searching, going to stores and looking at tents. It is a three person tent. This way we have room for our backpacks inside our tent. The weight is 2.1 kilo’s and for us the perfect combination in size, weight and space. That night it also got his first water test because it rained the whole night. We stayed dry inside so it passed this test as well. Second test it passed was the fact it also dried really fast in the morgen. The perfect tent to face the world.
Man, we are not used to walking anymore! In the morning our muscles felt stiff and it took a while for them to fully wake up. And they had to because for today we had 19K ahead. So we were in need of a good breakfast and baked pancakes on our one pitter we brought along. Our German neighbors were so nice to hand us 4 eggs which we quickly cooked. We really enjoyed them a few hours later. With our bellis full it was time to head out again.
As you leave the campground in the north you will immediately find the trail again. The first few miles we walked through the dunes again. The sun was shining on our heads as we turned right and there it was. The largest dune in the area with a viewing point on top. Of course we needed to go up and here we shot some really nice panoramic pictures of this area (called De Muy). It is an area of dunes and small lakes which are interconnected with streams. We followed one all the way to the Slufter. You will also see big oxen in the area and there is more agricultural land around. It was a nice change of scenery.
The river flows into the Slufter. This is a nature reserve that is in open connection with the North Sea. In the past the inhabitants tried to close the dunes but nature reopened it time after time. It is the most special nature reserve of Texel. Due to the weather we were not the only ones around. A lot of people were enjoying the Slufter. We also saw a lot of birds and we were in luck. Volunteers of the forestry department stood on top of a dune and here we could enjoy their huge binoculars to see the fast variety of birds in the Slufter. I was nice to talk to them about the area and the birds.
Sadly this was also the point where Jolien’s leg said stop! It was an old injury in her knee and we did not wanted to stress it more. From the Slufter we caught the handy Texelhopper, a bus which you can call and reserve, to the lighthouse of Texel. You will need to buy your tickets in advance. This is impossible in the bus but you can in almost all tourist places on Texel. We were in luck and we only had to wait for 10 minutes at the bus stop and 10 more minutes later we were standing underneath the lighthouse.
You can go to the top of the lighthouse so I walked up all stairs. Did you know that it is actually two lighthouses in one? During the Second World War prisoners of war escaped and entrenched themselves in the old lighthouse. It was shot up by the Germans and after the war they just placed a new lighthouse around it. There is even a floor were you can walk between the wall and see the bullet holes. The view upstairs was magnificent and I had clear views of Vlieland, one of the other islands, several sand plates at sea and the northern part of Texel. The perfect ending of a perfect weekend. We ordered the Texelhopper again and waited for it to arrive in the sun. In just 20 minutes it brought us all the way back to the ferry.
Texel was amazing. We walked a lot and enjoyed every moment of it, despite of the fact we were not used to it anymore. We enjoyed the nature parks in the south of the island the most together with the Slufter. The main reason are all the birds flying around and how much we liked them. The lighthouse was the ideal ending. Of course there is more to see and do on the island but we had to go home again. I would say that you should spend a weekend at one of the islands if you are in Holland. It is absolutely a unique place in our country.