Woodlands in Waterland
bos / woods / wald
Enjoy an autumn walk in Sint Nicolaasga
Birch brackets, russulas, milk caps and fly mushrooms greet you cheerfully in the Wilhelmina-oard and Vegelin woods. Follow the narrow woodland paths, passing meadows where you can savour the smell of falling leaves. And that one particular toadstool, red with the white dots... Could there be a fairy hiding behind it? Enjoy lovely walks in these woodlands during the autumn days.
Starting at the 'Oorsprong'
Walks can be started from various locations, but we've parked our car at the Oorsprong Hotel in Sint Nicolaasga. A large sign offering 'coffee with apple tart' lures us into this hotel steeped in rich history. And that history dates all the way back to the year 1885. Two families, Van Eysinga and Vegelin van Claerbergen, became aware that Friesian horses were threatened with extinction. On building 'de Oorsprong', they developed a new stabling method based on plenty of light and airiness.
A successful breeding programme was established in order to preserve the breed for future generations. The future of this iconic Friesian horse became secured in 'the Oorsprong'. This hotel is now a fantastic place to stay the night, and much of it is still in its authentic state. It's also lovely to simply enjoy a meal, a cup of coffee and soak up the atmosphere of yesteryear. We stocked up nicely for our walk with a cappuccino and warm apple tart with whipped cream.
“we immediately get a delicious "fresh nose" feeling.”
Land of badgers, deer, gnomes and 'talking' trees
The blue and red wooden poles mark the route along the woodland paths of Vegelin woods, immediately giving us that lovely feeling of 'a breath of fresh air'. We wander through the countryside that was formerly home to Squires and Fair ladies. They had the woodlands planted here for their pleasure, on this barren and wild wasteland. And now it is the land of badgers, deer, gnomes and 'talking' trees. Unfortunately you won't see any badgers in daytime, though the badger setts are a sure sign that these very special nocturnal animals have quietly declared these woods to be their home. We continue along the sandy paths. Heading for the gnome path that's great fun for kids, and for adults too if we're honest.
Bunny the gnome and the five little tortoise friends
During our walk, we've time to search for gnomes. All along the gnome pathway, beautiful figures with faces have been created in the trees. One tree even looks like a harp. They were all made by chainsaw artist Banzai-John. He creates all kinds of figures from dead trees around the pond. He makes at least one new piece of tree art each year, as trees die in the natural process. And so he keeps the path alive. Each of the figures has a storyboard and sometimes an assignment. We read about Bunny the gnome who visits a bench each afternoon to chat with the five little tortoise friends who live under the bench. Exciting!
“along the route, the most beautiful toadstools await you, together with birds.”
Noble woods: Wilhelmina-oard
Wilhelmina-oard is already enticing us from the distance, the former country estate whose woods have been managed by the It Fryske Gea organisation since 1986. In 1904, four unmarried young ladies took the initiative to have the Wilhelmina-oard care home built for women, naming it after their mother. The bracing environment would apparently work wonders for the body and soul. And yes indeed, it's beautiful here, promenading down the long, straight lanes of oak and beech trees. Along the route, the most beautiful toadstools await you, together with birds such as the golden oriole, the nuthatch and the blackcap enchanting you with his warbling.
Choose your own walk
Ideally, you can enjoy the complete walk, in a semicircle around the village of Sint Nicolaasga. It will take 2 to 3 hours, but can be shortened to suit your needs.
Banzai-John also has his own studio in Balk, featuring art objects and statues made using his chainsaw. Here too, you can enjoy a workshop in chainsaw art or wood engraving. www.banzai-john.nl. www.banzai-john.nl
PHOTOS: DICO DE KLEIN (IT FRYSKE GEA), BANZAI-JOHN, JAN TIJSMA AND MAAIKE DE VREEZE