The Hydraulic Forest in Autumn
The Waterloopbos (let’s translate that with Hydraulic Forest) in the Dutch North East Polder has a post-apocalyptic quality. This quality becomes almost overwhelming when you visit this forest on a rainy day in autumn.
It is as if a nuclear disaster occurred here fifty years ago. Everywhere you see crumbling walls, sluices, canals and strange rusty installations, partly overgrown by the forest.
The reality is, fortunately, somewhat less dramatic. From 1952 to 1995 this area was in use by the national Hydraulic Laboratory. The numerous watercourses and ponds with their wondrous artifacts are the remains of hydraulic scale models. The area is nowadays a national monument and open to the public.
This summer I visited the Waterloopbos for the first time and I really liked it. But a forest is of course at its best in the fall; a good reason to travel to the polder again in early November, together with travel companion R.
It was a day with memorable weather conditions: a small depression was running around in circles and caused major local differences in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the Noord East Polder wasn’t very lucky this day: we walked through the forest in the rain for about two hours.
Tripod and lens hood
But in fact that wasn’t bad at all. It was pleasantly quiet; the crowds of fellow photographers who were here this summer had stayed at home. And the overwhelming colors of the foliage made the photos, despite the gray weather, anything but gloomy. My mini tripod was indispensable, with shutter speeds of up to five seconds. And a lens hood managed to keep most of the rain drops off the lens.
The most monumental construction in the forest is the Deltawerk. This 240-meter-long concrete structure was was partially sawn open and therefore made accessible to the public, based on an idea by artists Ronald Rietveld and Erick de Lyon.
A number of concrete elements have been turned and tilted. Over the years, the Deltawerk will become increasingly weathered and covered with lichen. But even now the huge structure, located in its reflection pond in a large clearing in the forest, is already very photogenic.
Some practical information for blog readers who also want to take a look at this unique piece of nature: the official address of the forest is Voorsterweg 34 in Marknesse. The bus from Zwolle to Emmeloord stops at the Voorsterweg bus stop, located on the edge of the forest.
Food and drinks
Visitor center / restaurant Het Proeflab is open seven days a week. Unless, of course, it’s booked in its entirety for a wedding, like during our visit. But in that case cafe Saantje, in nearby and scenic Vollenhove, is a good alternative.