Where the south of Noord Holland is very busy and populated, the more north you travel, the more quite it get’s. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still The Netherlands. ‘Quite’ is relative here. And that’s why, if you really want to unwind, relax and dive into nature, the Schoorlse Duinen is the place you are looking for.
While I’m here in October, no matter what season, the Schoorlse dunes offer a place for peace and tranquility. With dunes up to 54m high and 5km wide it are the highest and widest dunes to be found in the Netherlands. In fact, with it’s area of about 1.875 hectare, it’s pretty big!
A century ago the sand did what it liked, until Staatsbosbeheer (a Dutch organisation, assigned by the government) to maintain forest- and nature area’s in the Netherlands) began planting. Now one can find heather, pine forests, deciduous forest and beaches. In these dunes, nature is king. With a little helping hand of humans, it does not only offer a great living space for the wild, it also protects the mainland from flooding during extreme high tide and storms.
Walking the Schoorlse Duinen
The Schoorlse dunes have a total of 60 km of walking paths that will take you to the highest dunes, the oldest forests and drifting dunes. And if you look closely, there are a lot of plants and animals to discover. At ‘De Kerf’ for example. During spring tide and northwestern storms the water from the North sea can access the underlying dune valleys. Thanks to the salty water, plants like the samphire, sea-rocket and salt-marshes-grass settled here. In their footsteps birds and dune lizards followed.
There is a variety of routes ranging from 3 to 23 km. They all start at ‘Buitencentrum Schoorlse Duinen’. At this starting point, all routes are clearly indicated. In the ‘Buitencentrum’ you can get more information about the area, the routes, the activities and more. You’ll even find a lovely brasserie ‘IJgenweis eten & drinken’, where they offer food and drinks from, as much as possible, local origin.
Free play for nature
Late last century, conservationists and dune administrators started looking for alternative forms of dune management, with more space for nature. In 1997, measures were taken to give free rein to sand, wind and water again. In addition, a hole was dug in the first row of dunes, which in case of a favorable storm would cause seawater to flow in the underlying dune valley.
Enrichment flora and fauna
In recent years nature has rapidly taken advantage of the new situation. Many rare plants (such torkruid briny, sea beet and rooted champignon mushroom) and animals (including the ringed plover and the natterjack toad) have settled in the area. In addition, the combination of drifting sand and seawater has yielded a fascinating landscape that countless people enjoy every year.
Schoorlse Duinen has an extensive network of hiking trails. But did you know that you can also wander in a lot of places and may go down the path? In Jan Bas’ garden, play pits, Wulpendal, Hargerplas, Groeter and Zandgat you can explore the dunes in your own way. The marked trails lead you through the whole area and from there you can start your own wander-route.
How to get there?
The Schoorlse Duinen is accessible all year round. The best starting point, and starting point of all walking routes, is Buitencentrum Schoorlse Duinen. Using the address given on a navigation device, it’s easy to find.
Buitencentrum Schoorlse Duinen
Oorsprongweg 1 (navigation device: Heereweg 62)
1871 HA Schoorl
On navigation devices, navigate to the address Heerweg 62. The road on the opposite side of this address is ‘Oorsprongweg’ on which you will find the ‘Buitencentrum’.
The Schoorlse Duinen offer a variety of activities all year round for young and old. While most of these activities are advertised and held in Dutch, it is still worth having a look. How about a guided walk at night?
Disabled can use the bike lanes for accessibility. It’s recommended to bring accompaniment due to the sometimes steep hills.
Dogs are welcome all year round though in breeding season, from the 1st of March to the 1st of September dogs need to be leased to avoid disruption. Outside this period, dogs are allowed to go, under appeal. Please note that in the grazing areas different rules apply. These can be identified by the signs.
Parking at P2, is paid parking. At the time of writing it’s €1.90 p/h and €12,- for a day card. There are disabled parking facilities. The proceeds benefit the Schoorl dunes.
You can find more information on menu and opening hours of Brasserie IJgenweis here.
The following walking routes are marked by colored poles. Starting point for all walking routes is Buitencentrum Schoorlse Duinen. Keep in mind that a route of 23 km is a long one! The sand, dunes and hills can make it quite of a challenge. For children I’d recommend the 3 or 5 km route.
Walking & Hiking
This roetroute (soot route) will take you through the portion of the Schoorl dunes where a few years ago, a wildfire raged and nature recovered slowly.
Color:/ Distance: 5km
A family friendly route. It’s a short detour through the Schoorl Dunes.
Color:/ Distance: 3km
The Noordzeewandeling (North sea walk) will take you trough the dunes to the sea. And back of course.
Color:/ Distance: 10km
The boomplanterstocht (tree planters journey) goes through the oldest forests of the dunes. This route is dog friendly.
Color:/ Distance: 12km
The duinheidewandeling (heather dune hike) goes along the most beautiful moors of the dunes.
Color:/ Distance: 11km
The stuifduinentocht (drifting dunes tour). The route passes through places in the dunes where sand can fly up again.
Color:/ Distance: 17km
This is the duintoppentocht (dune peak tour). The route goes over the highest dunes of the dunes. This route is dog friendly.
Color:/ Distance: 23km
You’ll also find yourself a 16.3 km long mountainbike trail in the forest and dunes of Schoorlse Duinen. The route takes you trough the thick forest trails to the sandy dunes closer to sea. This track has some steep inclines and the sand will offer to be a challenge on it’s own. Recreant or elite, you will love this trail.
The starting point of the trail is at ‘Het Witte Huis’ in Aagtdorp. Due to it’s limited parking space, or actually, lack of it, it’s recommended to park at Buitencentrum Schoorlse Duinen. Download the GPX file below and it will include the part from parking to the start of the trail.