Network of footpaths along water and land

This, the northern-most island of Zeeland, came to be when the water that divided four islands was laid dry. Schouwen, Bommenede, Dreischor and Duiveland became polder
and are now a proper walkers’ haven, with a highly varied scenery. The route network ‘Schouwen-Duiveland’ will show you the way across the dunes and dikes, the polders and inlets, the fields of dreams and so much more.

Bounce along the beach – there’s a load of room

What more could you possibly want, than a 21 km stretch of beach? The western coast of this island fits the brief, masses of space to walk and unwind, with a host of different dune crossings from which to arrive on the beach. Each one has its own unique vibe, be that family-friendly, nature-lovers or sporty spice. There is a useful council-provided map of all the different beaches.

South coast: nature, nature, nature

The dikes on the Schouwen-Duiveland south coast are prime viewing spots for the Oosterschelde National Park. Porpoises flock here, you might even get a peep at them, though the birds are a sure thing – bring your binoculars, hey, if you’re gonna gaze upon these mud flats. Do a 180, and turn your attention inland, where the ‘Plan Tureluur’ unites a plethora of nature reserves, with polders and inlets galore. There are ten birds for each hand, here, of every stripe and feather. Viewing towers and lookout points make for some stellar birdwatching.

Schouwen comes to a head and foresters do their thing

Watch out, the trees at the head (‘Kop van’) of Schouwen are well worth a detour. Woodland sits happily next to sandy dunes, on the Westerschouwen Forestry, the Meeuwenduinen (Seagull Dunes) and Vroongronden. The crashing waves ever in your ear, gentle dunes, deciduous and leafy trees, glorious expanses of sand, and a peep, perchance, of some deer at dusk.

A blaze of farming

Farming is still going strong, on the east of this island, as the arable polders testify. Luscious ringed villages, a period feature, at Noordgouwe and Dreischor, with the Goemanszorg Museum championing the region and its agricultural bent, in the latter village. Its home: a restored farm, from the 1700s. Flax lyrical about land cultivation here, explore life on a farm.

‘Watersnood’ Path

The Schouwen-Duiveland footpath ‘Watersnoodpad’, about the Flood of 1953, was awarded the Walking Route of the Year in 2014. It covers some 154 km, divided into 10 stages of between 7 and 20 km.

Along the way, you will pass many of the places that were deluged by that fateful flood. The rigidly lined roads, vibrant red roofs on the newly built farms, the monuments and gifted homes, and the odd stray stream left over, all are poignant reminders of the Flood.

This footpath was developed by the national walking and hiking association (KNBLO). The route guide is available in bookstores and through the KNBLO.

Rules of entry

Some routes traverse private property, we’re the guests here. The following rules apply:

  1. Entry permitted only between sunrise and sunset
  2. Enter at your own risk
  3. Dogs, horses, bicycles and motorbikes are not permitted, unless expressly stated otherwise
  4. Keep a sensible distance from all livestock
  5. The path is closed on 1st January (Happy New Year!)
  6. The path may be closed temporarily at other times
  7. Leave no trace
  8. Failure to comply with these rules will see your permission suspended (under Article 461 Criminal Code)

Access to private land

It is prohibited to access private land with dogs, horses, bicycles, scooters and motorbikes. Dogs might infect the livestock with disease, so some parts of the route are closed to dogs. The route map will clearly mark this – a red dot with an arrow – and will show the alternate path for you to take, over the regular road.

Personal safety
For your own personal safety, it is essential to keep a sensible distance from cattle. Do not feed them, ever. Horses in particular are bound to become very intimidating if you feed them. The footpath may be closed temporarily for maintenance or hunting. The land owner will have marked this on the route signposts, so that you can choose an alternative.

If we comply with these rules, we shall all be able keep using these private grounds in the future.