• Frans Riemersma and Hans Faber

Introducing the Frisia Coast Trail

Why did we create the Frisia Coast Trail in the first place?

Do you know that feeling of having more hobbies than time? We do. We suffer from multiple areas of interest (MAI). Here are two examples.

We both like hiking

A lot. We did some cool hikes and visited all the continents, except Antarctica. We tramped in Japan, New Zealand, Chile, Greece, Nepal, Peru, Scotland, France and Spain. Check out the stories and pics of these hikes at mijnhikesenreizen. But we never hiked our own soil... The Frisia coast was high on our bucket list.

We both like Frisia

Little did we know about our own roots. Shame on us. High school was not even covering the juicy facts.

  • The States of Friesland (Mid Frisia), one of the republics of the Dutch Republic, was the first country in the world to officially acknowledge the USA in the year 1782. Yes, Mister President Trump. America first, but Friesland certainly second.

  • And Mister President, while we are at it, the Frisians were the founding fathers of Western Capitalism nearly 1,500 years ago.

  • Nowhere in Europe have been dug up more silver and gold than here. Frisia coins and money all over Western Europe.

  • Two bad-ass kings from West Frisia challenged the wicked Roman Emperor Nero on his own turf, the Colosseum in Rome. And they lived to tell it another day!

  • The epic of Beowulf, the Superman from around AD 400, is about "Game of Thrones-like" battles between the Jutes, the Danes and the Frisians, with the Frisian king Finn -son of Folcwald- and his son being slaughtered.

  • Their fighting skills were renowned in the Vatican, the Mediterranean and the Levant during the Crusades. The oldest church tower of Rome and the Vatican is that of the Church of the Frisians.

  • And then there is the definition of beauty: Doutzen Kroes (Giekerk, province Friesland or Mid Frisia) or Luisa Hartema (Leer, landkreis Ostfriesland or East Frisia) to name only two. They are Frisian. But we don't blame high school for not educating us there. There we took the responsibility of self study in our own hands. It came naturally ;-)

It started at university and continued in bars drinking beers

We decided to take courses at the Frisian Faculty of the Universities of Groningen and of Amsterdam. And continued to explore facts for fun ever since. In the years to follow, we usually shared fun facts when drinking a beer or a Beerenburg (local liquor in Mid Frisia) and when done with the gossip. The stupid. The funny. The bold. The unknown. The amazing.

Then August 2016 came, I still remember what I was wearing...

Hans dropped a whats-app message somewhere in 2016. Since we have more hobbies than time and MAI is killing us. Hans proposed to combine the two them: hiking and (the history of) Frisia. The genius! Frans immediately understood the unrealistic ambition, but gave his support. The diplomat! Then again, if you do not dare to dream, how else can we be creative?

And if we still value to the ideas of the hiker and philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche, hiking and creation and writing should go hand in hand. It was Nietzsche who said: "Remain seated as little as possible, put no trust in any thought that is not born in the open, to the accompaniment of free bodily motion — nor in one in which even the muscles do not celebrate a feast." (Ecce Homo). And yes, Nietzsche was a fanatic walker.

This is how we started to develop the Frisia Coast Trail. We are adding all the fun stuff we learned over time and frame it into tracks and hikes that wander through a beautiful landscape.

The name of the trail was clear from the start: The Frisia Coast Trail, or as hikers love to do, the FCT. And already it got a nickname. Since its a trail through the grass- and marshlands of cows and milk, its nicknamed the 'Milky Way'.

Outlining the trail

We have divided the trail into nine stages, also to accommodate section hikers. Each stage is an area that can more-or-less be distinguished from the other by landscape and/or by history. You will see rivers play an important role in the history of these area's. Regional history and rivers are very much LinkedIn (click the stage-links bellow to get a visual impression).

West Frisia

  • Stage 1: From the Zwin creek (former Scincfal) in Belgium to the Lek river (a branch of the Rhine river) at Wijk bij Duurstede in the Netherlands. This area used to be part of West Frisia. Here the early-medieval emporium Dorestat was situated. This stage covers the Netherlands' Delta of three mighty rivers, the Scheldt, the Meuse and the Rhine.

  • Stage 2: From the Lek river to the IJ river and the town of Velsen near the Netherlands' capitol Amsterdam, where the Romans had to accept their limits and halted their expansion after the defeat against the Frisians. This whole area used to be part of West Frisia as well.

  • Stage 3: From the IJ river to Wieringen, once an island, where once river Vlie separated the provinces Noord Holland and Friesland. Still, this whole stretch used to be part of West Frisia too. You walk partly along Europe's broadest beaches of the North Sea and pass through a region carrying the name Westfriesland till this day (a region within the province Noord Holland in the Netherlands).

Mid Frisia

  • Stage 4: From Wieringen to the Lauwers river, marking the border between the Netherlands' provinces Friesland and Groningen. Now you enter the (former) salt-marsh area an area also called Mid Frisia or sometimes Westerlauwers Frisia or even confusingly West Frisia (meaning: west of the river Lauwers). From here until the end of the trail you walk along the Wadden Sea (UNESCO protected).

  • Stage 5: From the Lauwers river to the Ems river, marking the border of Groningen (the Netherlands) and region Ostfriesland or East Frisia (Germany). The (Frisian) Ommelanden region of the province of Groningen was the salt-marsh area. This was part of Mid Frisia too.

East Frisia

  • Stage 6: From the Ems river to the Jade river, marking the end of Ostfriesland or East Frisia (Germany). Still hiking along the Wadden Sea, but the track also leads to Aurich where once the 'Seven Lands of the Sea' gathered at the Upstalboom.

  • Stage 7: From the Jade river to the Eider river, marking the beginning of Nordfriesland or North Frisia in Germany. This stage covers the German Bight, including the region Dithmarschen and the mythical red rock-island Heligoland where the goddess Fosete was worshiped by the Frisians. From this region the Saxons and Angles migrated during the Migration Age to the east, to settle in Frisia and of course in southeast England.

North Frisia

  • Stage 8: From the Eider river to Vidå river (Widuu in North-Frisian language, meaning widow) marking the border with Denmark. During this stage you can still see ancient terps of kreis Nordfriesland or North Frisia (Germany) 'in action' when surrounded by sea during seasonal flooding in autumn and winter.

  • Stage 9: From the Vidå river to the Ribe Å river. Hiking the southwest of Jutland of Denmark to the city of Ribe, a trading town founded by the Frisians. Ribe town marks the end of the Frisia Coast Trail.

Join us on our track, wish you a good hike or a fun read and feel free to contribute! We haven't designed many tracks before. So, a little help is welcome.

The only trail we designed so far is (an one hour taxi drive) across five garages in Silicon Valley in the United States. Epic! These garages changed the world as we know it. This is where Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Mircosoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Page & Sergey Brin (Google) and Hewlett & Packard (HP) did their magic.

Here is the Silicon Valley Garage Trail:

It may be so that the Frisia Coast Trail dates way back in time. But it is also about shaping the world we live in. Remember the old saying "Deus mare, Friso litora fecit" (God created the sea, Frisians the coast). To prove their case, Frisian ancestors started building the first dykes the same time Jesus started spreading His gospels.