Outstanding beauty

Walked from The Hague to Katwijk last week. All in all did 18 km, which is – for me – quite a lot. Started at the Scheveningen Boulevard, which is entirely miss-able (crowded, commercial), pointing our steps northward we then entered Meijendel, which is entirely fascinating.

It is an area of outstanding natural beauty, or as natural as things get in the Netherlands. It has dunes, beach, sand, sea, salt water, sweet water, brackish water – making for a varied landscape and interesting wild- and plantlife. It is also a water treatment plant – water from the rivers is pumped into the dunes and filtered by the sand as it trickles downward, later on pumped up as drinking water for the The Hague area.

It is also a park, with walking paths, cycling paths, riding paths, parking lots and a lot of stage directions for park visitors. And it holds historical significance – for example there is a lookout tower from the Cold War erected on on a man-made hillock made of rubble from World War II. Also the dunes are part of the national defence against the sea. Layer upon layer, really: like many areas in the Netherlands Meijendel is multiused and multifaceted.

Oh, and did I mention that the area is also the proving ground for Theo Jansen’s Strandbeesten? We met with a few, and they are still as fascinating to me as when I saw them first, over 20 years ago. In fact it was the Strandbeesten and their saga of evolution that made me have a closer look at art, and become engaged with it. Thanks again, Theo!

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