stage 4: Mid Frisia
River Vlie (NL) to River Lauwers (NL)
Length: 275 km (170 miles) in 13 stages
From Wieringen to the Lauwers river, marking the border between the Netherlands' provinces Friesland and Groningen. Or also nicknamed the ZZ-Top, since it's from Zurich to Zoutkamp in the north. Now you enter the (former) salt-marsh area. From here until the end of the trail you walk along the Wadden Sea (UNESCO protected). Walk the river Marne and the river Moselle in one day ;-)
For a visual impression of this stage, click here.
section 4.1: Kop Afsluitdijk - Hindeloopen
section 4.2: Hindeloopen - Rijs
section 4.3: Rijs - Balk
section 4.4: Balk - IJlst
section 4.5: IJlst - Irnsum
section 4.9: Zwarte Haan - Seedykstertoer
section 4.10: SeedyksterToer - Great Sminia
section 4.11: Great Sminia - Holwerd
section 4.12: Holwerd - Anjum
section 4.13: Anjum - Zoutkamp
The land is bordered by the UNESCO protected Wadden Sea, together with its many islands stretching all the way into Denmark.
The hinterland consisted mainly of peat areas, which have been mined and excavated through the centuries for the production of salt and fuel. Read our blog post 'The United Frisian Emirates' about the relatively unknown history of commercial peat exploitation. Dykes were needed to protect the land, resulting in a.o. the Slachtedijk (Slachte Dyke). Read our blog post about this mother of all dykes.
According to the early-medieval law code the Lex Frisionum (law of the Frisians) this area belonged to the sub-region Mid Frisia (also Central Frisia or Westerlauwers Friesland), the area 'inter Laubachi et Fli' (between Lauwers and Vie).
The Mid-Frisian e.g. the Frisians of the province Friesland. Early medieval Mid Frisia consisted of two regions or shires, Austrachia and Uuistrachia, meaning respectively 'east-island' (Eastereach) and 'west-island' (Westereach). Later the names changed into the present names Oostergo and Westergo, meaning respectively 'east-shire' and 'west-shire', with the extension 'go/goa/gouwe' from Frankish origin.
This is the terp region and it is often regarded as the cultural, historic heartland of Frisia. Terps are artificial dwelling mounds. But West Frisia (present-day Dutch provinces of Zeeland, Zuid-Holland, Noord-Holland and part of Utrecht) might very well have a legitimate claim for this title too. And of course, don't tell it to the East-Frisians in north-west Germany. But the oldest terps are indeed found in Mid Frisia (Westergo) and from there spread to the east along to coast into Germany.
During the Roman Period this area was called Frisii maiores (the major Frisians). The area is part of the 2,600 years old terp region stretching from river Vlie to river Weser, although terps are also build in landkreis Nordfriesland (also North Frisia) in Germany and the province Noord-Holland in the Netherlands). Want to build your own terp, read here our manual, the first one ever on terp-building.
The area is of origin a tidal salt-marsh area and you will encounter salt marshes of the trail during this stage 4.