About this location
The defensive fortifications in the village of Retranchement (French for bulwark or entrenchment) hail from the Eighty Years´ War. The fortifications were built in a hurry under the orders of Prince Maurits in order to defend the Zwingeul channel against the Spanish. During the Eighty Years´ War this was a fort for soldiers that has since grown into a village.
The evidence of these fortifications is still obvious in a chain of features throughout the surrounding landscape: dikes, meadows, rows of hawthorn hedges, pollard-willows, fruit trees and drinking wells are dotted all over the area. The village is also famous for four rare species of clover that grow here: the little barrel clover, rough clover, knotted clover and subterranean clover, which all grow on the dry, sunny dikes and embankments. These plants prefer to grow in low-growing vegetation, which the grazing cows are good at maintaining. The habitat provided by the remains of the fortifications also hides a large number of other species, namely 293 different species of wild plant that were found in an extensive survey in 1999!
Retranchement is also one of the last natural habitats in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen of the tree frog. You can enjoy a serenade from the male frogs on sultry spring evenings in May as they perch on the banks of the water, croaking for the ladies´ appreciation. Brightly coloured dragonflies flutter along the herb-rich banks looking for prey and several species of burrowing bees and wasps reside in the steep sandy slopes. These and other insects form the staple diet of the songbirds brooding in the hawthorn hedges, and the pollard-willows give shelter to the little owl. As a lover of small-scale landscape this pretty owl is a permanent resident here. His mysterious call can regularly be heard on misty evenings in early spring. Grazing animals keep the area cropped, sometimes helped by a little mowing and the hedgerows and trees are also well maintained.