Hiking Around Lake Grevelingen

After the completion of the Oosterschelde trail, friends Arie, Maarten, Bart and I had to make a decision. Which long-distance hiking trail are we going to walk next? Aren’t there other great bodies of water in this part of the country? How about hiking around Lake Grevelingen?

Remarkably, there is no official hiking route around this largest saltwater lake in Europe. But no worries, friend Bart lives a stone’s throw away from Lake Grevelingen and knows the area well. Time and time again he provides us with the most beautiful routes.

It took us four years to complete the Grevelingen Path, with a little delay caused by the pandemic.

The map is interactive: zoom and click for more information.

We were lucky to have two cars. Anyone who wants to follow in our footsteps and use public transport will have to make some minor adjustments to the route. But even on Sundays, most villages and towns on these pious islands are reasonably accessible by bus.

Stage 1: Bruinisse – Herkingen

September 23, 2017 – 14.3 kilometers

The tour starts at the easternmost tip of the former island of Schouwen-Duivenland, near the fishing port of Bruinisse. The first section takes us along the Grevelingen Dam. But it doesn’t really feel like a dam, because on its north side there is a recreational area with forests and beaches.

We pass the provincial border on the last stretch of the dam, since although Goeree-Overflakkee feels very Zeelandic, in fact it’s part of South Holland. The landscape is vast; we walk on an asphalt dike with a view of Grevelingen and its many sailing boats. In a small bay near the hamlet of Battenoord we meet a number of strange visitors: flamingos.

The last part of the route takes us inland, along flower-sown field borders to the village of Herkingen.

Beach with sand, grass and rocks near Herkingen, The Netherlands, as seen during a long distance hike around Lake Grevelingen
Hiking along Lake Grevelingen

Stage 2: Herkingen – Slikken van Flakkee

May 27, 2018 – 17.2 kilometers

After the asphalt embankment of the previous stage, the coast west of Herkingen has a much more natural character. A grass dike with long rows of trees separates the old land from the Slikken van Flakkee (literally the Flakkee mud flats). It’s a large zone with low vegetation, highland cows and fjord horses as well as many birds.

At Melissant the Slikken are about two kilometers wide; a dirt road leads to a beautiful jetty in the lake. The last part of the route leads through more wooded terrain.

Dike with tall grass and a row of poplar trees between the fields and the wetlands of Flakkee, part of a long distance trail around lake Grevelingen, The Netherlands
A dike between the fields and the mudflats

Stage 3: Slikken van Flakkee – Stellendam

August 19, 2018 – 13.7 kilometers

Most of this day’s stage still leads along the Slikken. Sometimes on paths through alternating woodland or a somewhat more open landscape, other stretches are on the former sea dike.

The last part of this day hike takes us across dikes and country roads across the island to the banks of another former estuary: Haringvliet. Via the fishing port and the sluice of Stellendam we reach the beautifully situated terrace of the architecturally designed restaurant Zout of Zoet.

Bushes, grass and other low vegetation on the Flakkee wetlands in the Netherlands with Lake Grevelingen in the background
The Slikken van Flakkee

Stage 4: Stellendam – Goedereede

October 6, 2018 – 12.5 kilometers

On this day we do not really see Lake Grevelingen at all. But it would be a shame to skip the north coast of Goeree, with the Kwade Hoek nature reserve. The beach is wide here, with a beautiful transition zone to the dunes, covered with, among other things, marram grass and salicornia.

The last part of the route goes inland, through dunes and forests. And situated between fields and meadows, the ultimate goal looms there, the tiny but very picturesque town of Goedereede.

Landscape with creeks and low vegetation in nature reserve De Kwade Hoek on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee in the Netherlands
Kwade Hoek

Stage 5: Goedereede – Punt van Goeree

February 17, 2019 – 14.9 kilometers

After some sightseeing in Goedereede we walk through reedlands rich with birds. Then we once again reach the shore of the lake that’s the subject of this hiking trail: the Grevelingen.

We pass a former fortress, De Schans, as wel as the old harbor of the village of Ouddorp.

This stage ends at the Punt van Goeree, a somewhat messy but therefore quite charming area. Including a fairly new park of holiday homes that, for a change, looks pretty nice.

Reeds and creeks with geese and ducks on the island of Goeree, The Netherlands with the characteristic church tower of the town of Goedereede in the background
The tower of Goedereede

Stage 6: Punt van Goeree – Brouwersdam

May 4, 2019 – 12.3 kilometers

We are not yet finished at the Punt. The first part of the walk takes us along the bunker route, with remains of the Atlantikwal built by the Germans in ’40 -’45. And another piece of history: we do not skip the museum of the RTM, the Rotterdamsche Tramweg Maatschappij. In the old days this company operated trams and boats connecting these islands with the big city.

The Brouwersdam forms a nice contrast with the previous part. A wide strip of land with a grand view over Lake Grevelingen and / or the North Sea. A paradise for sailors, surfers, kiters and other water sports lovers.

View on Brouwersdam, lake Grevelingen and the Northsea from the tower of the Staatsbosbeheer visitors centre

Stage 7: Brouwersdam – Zonnemaire

August 10, 2019 – 13.2 kilometers

We leave the Brouwersdam behind and pass the village of Scharendijke and the Den Osse water sports center. The dikes along this shore were once reinforced with concrete and wooden structures that are now heavily weathered. One would almost forget it, but before closing the dams the sea was a constant threat for this coast.

We reach Brouwershaven, which turns out to be a beautiful little town with a windmill, a medieval town hall and a picturesque harbor. From there it is a few kilometers on country roads to the picturesque village of Zonnemaire.

Part of the old concrete coastal defence wall on the island of Schouwen-Duiveland, part of a long distance trail around Lake Grevelingen
The old seawall

Stage 8: Around Zonnemaire

October 22, 2019 – 15.9 kilometers

Via a hamlet with the appropriate name Dijkhuisjes (Little Dike Houses) we walk back to Brouwershaven. There we taste another one of those fantastic herring at the town’s harbor.

The tour continues over grassy dikes with a wide view over fields with potatoes and carrots on one side and Lake Grevelingen with various wooded islands on the other.

From the former work harbor of Bommenede, nowadays used for water sports, country roads take us back to Zonnemaire.

Grassy dike between Brouwershaven and Bruinisse, part of a long distance trail around Lake Grevelingen
Hiking on a grassy dike

Stage 9: Zonnemaire – Dreischor

February 2, 2020 – 14.5 kilometers

This section mainly takes us inland, across the island of Schouwen-Duiveland. We walk along country roads and dikes, past plowed fields with thick clay and farms with black-tarred barns. Zeeland as God intended it.

Two picturesque villages form a beautiful contrast with this vast landscape. First of all, the tiny Noordgouwe, with in its center the Ring, like so many Zeelandic villages. A large open space with a large church, surrounded by a green garden, a narrow canal and historic buildings, most of which with one layer and a roof. After a few more kilometers with more of the aforementioned fields and farms, the barely larger Dreischor follows with another beautiful Ring. But I’d like to advise the municipality of Schouwen-Duiveland to ban the parked cars from those village rings.

After a few kilometers along straight, almost meditative country roads, we once again see Lake Grevelingen, the name giver of this hiking route, for a little while, even if only for a few hundred meters.

The Ring in the characteristic village of Dreischor on the Dutch island of Schouwen-Duiveland, with in the middle the church and around it a green garden, a narrow canal and a street with historic houses
The Ring of Dreischor, cars kept out of view

Stage 10: Around Sirjansland

September 3, 2021 – 11.4 kilometers

After a gap of a year and a half due to a certain virus, we continue our route from a starting point at the bottom of the dike near Dreischor. The start of this penultimate stage is not the easiest part of the route. On both sides of the dike there is something that at some sections more or less looks like a path, but that’s about it. However the beautiful views over the Grevelingen on the left and the Zeeland countryside on the right make up for a lot.

After about a kilometer we reach a relatively new piece of dike with a grassy trail that is easy to walk on. To the right is the Dijkwater, formerly the estuary that separated the islands of Schouwen and Duiveland. Nowadays it’s a lake area with a rich bird life. On the left are mudflats with vegetation in an almost psychedelic color palette. I’m assume that will probably be a little less exuberant in other parts of the year.

With Bruinisse, the end of the Path, in sight, we leave the Grevelingen. We bend inland and we pass through the hamlet of Sirjansland, which despite its size has a cafe. Unfortunately, we have to share the Road throught the Dijkwater with other traffic. Please province of Zeeland, make a nice hiking trail here! But the road does offer beautiful views over fields, meadows, reeds and puddles. A side path to the right leads to the Peeping Wall, a hip name for a bird-watching screen. A side path to the left takes us to a different world. There’s suddenly a dense forest on the banks of the Dijkwater here.

After this little piece of woodland, the Zeelandic wideness returns. There’s a vineyard as a somewhat strange but beautiful anomaly between the fields and meadows. A number of quiet country roads with a view of the Dreischor skyline finally bring us back to the starting point, at the bottom of the dike along the Grevelingen.

Psychedelic colors on the marshes along lake Grevelingen near the Dijkwater and the village of Sirjansland on the island of Schouwen-Duiveland in the Netherlands

Stage 11: Sirjansland – Bruinisse

December 19, 2021- 9.8 kilometers

We walk our final stage on a somewhat foggy day. The banks of lake Grevelingen are now a lot less colorful than a few months ago. But what is most striking today is the silence here. Is it the acoustic properties of the fog, is it because hardly anyone else is on the road?

From Sirjansland we follow the lake’s banks, sometimes at the bottom of the dike, along the weathered concrete constructions of the former seawall, sometimes over the grass path at the top of the dike. After a few kilometers we reach the outskirts of Bruinisse. First a golf course and then a holiday park, both of which are the same size as the village itself. And to the left is the marina, which is also quite large.

Via the lock between Grevelingen and Zijpe we arrive in Bruinisse itself. Or in Bru, as the inhabitants affectionately call it. To conclude the Grevelingen Path, we make a lap of honor through the village. And we make an extra round along the refuge harbour. Here the legendary Anna Jacobapolder- Zijpe ferry would have been taken out of service because of the fog, if it had still been in business.

Via the banks of the Zijpe we return to the fishing port of Bru, where it is time for a fish meal to celebrate the completion of the Path. At the same time, Bru’s most famous son, health minister Hugo de Jonge, announces a new lockdown. It means that we are the last guests to leave the fish restaurant for the foreseeable future.

Hikers passing the former sea defense constructions on the north bank of the island of Schouwen-Duiveland, the Netherlands on a misty day
Hiking along misty Grevelingen

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