Today I’ve been to @dboontje his photo exposition in community house de Kaaie. He had an exposition with his photo group. I’m not going to show anything from this exposition. I’ll leave the honor for creating a story about this great achievement to himself. So @dboontje I can’t wait till you post your story about this event! I’ve had some fun watching all the different pictures. Best thing I liked was that you guys showed what a picture can do while printed on paper, and how different it can look on a screen. The exposition will be there for three days and is an annual event.

Wallen van Retranchement

Travel: Where you discover some rich history in your own backyard ?

We’ve been to the exposition this morning and I promised my girlfriend that we would also go for a walk. I’m not that familiar with all the areas in Zeeuws Vlaanderen so even for me it was some sightseeing at places I haven’t been before although it is only a 1-hour drive from my home. So I really enjoyed today, discovering some new places in a well known area, my backyard.

We decided to go to the “Wallen van Retranchement” this is a national monument in the Netherlands. This retrenchment is a chain of small landscape elements. Dikes, meadows, hawthorne hedges, weeping willows, fruit trees and wells across the area.


(Un)known history

Like I mentioned I’ve never been here, and today I discovered it is a place with some history! Retranchement does sound French and something to eat, but there is no romantic dinner involved. They made these walls during the Eighty Years’ War. This was our Dutch war of independence and was a revolt of the seventeen provinces. Nowdays the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. We fight together against the Spanish king Philip II. They created this as a line of defense to protect the Zwin area (access to cities like Sluis and Bruges. During this war there only lived soldiers in between these walls. Nowadays this complex formed into a normal village.

Our Dutch prince Maurits made the design for this area and gave it the name “retrenchment Cadsandria”. He also extended this in 1621 with two fortresses at both sides, fort Orange and Nassau. The soldiers lived here in between the barracks and formed a small community.

All those soldiers lived here actually with their family inside the walls. Just like every other family they needed things to live. So people needed some shops, a library a community house etc. So this is why they promoted living in between the walls with the citizens of the area. All those people need food as well. But the grounds around the fortress weren’t the type of ground you need for farming. Here where the wet and wild lands, and there were some rich people who bought these and built a dyke around them to impolder them. This is how the area got this chained look nowadays.

Start position

Walking in real Dutch weather

We started our walk in the middle of the retrenchment, and we followed the signs. In a few minutes we were already wandering over the walls and enjoying the views. Although we had some dark grey skies, combined with the green grass the views were still pretty. We found out that the dikes are grazed by cows and horses. The area is also very important for a population of tree frogs, bats and a few little owls. Not to forget four special types of small clover species. Those four are; the little barrel clover, rough clover, knotted clover and subterranean clover. These species can grow here because the vegetation needs to be wielded very short. The cows and horses make sure that this happens, so the clover does growth luxuriant. The walk was not that long (I think approx. 7 km.) but I really enjoyed looking at the area combined with the history that created the shapes and lines we’re seeing here in the landscape.

During our walk we came across a fun fact. The walk will bring you very close to the Belgium border. Here you will see the poles that act as a marker for the border between the countries. But normally you’ll see only one pole, here we count three of them…?

Dutch and Belgium border

Back in the days, both countries agreed that the border would be into the waters of the Zwin stream. Because of the always changing water the poles were placed 200m from the waterline at both sides. In the year 1873 after the dried the Wilhelminapolder they placed pole number three. But they left the first two poles as silent witnesses. A border mark like they have here is unique for my country.

Dutch farm
Walls and willows

We’ll be back!

We did walk for about almost 2 hours (yeah I know taking pictures consumes time…) and we both agreed on the fact that this was a beautiful area. We also thought that we should come back when nature reboots itself and life is returning in spring. With all the trees full in their leaves I think the landscape will gain some extra depth while looking through it. So we will return here for sure during spring or summer. Probably riding on our bikes because we found some MTB tracks here.


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