As we’ve been on a lot of city trips lately (Prague, Basel, Luxembourg), we wanted to change it up and feel the wind in our hair and the sand between our toes. Ameland looked like a great place for that.
If you don’t know where it is (and I didn’t until I received a postcard), Ameland is one of the West Frisian Islands (yes, that is indeed where the cows come from) located in the North of The Netherlands.
You reach Ameland via a ferry from Holwerd. It is rather strange to be driving through the countryside then you turn left (following the signs) towards the sea and very quickly end up on a peninsula where the ferry terminal has been built. Surrounded on all sides by mud-flats and water, it has almost an edge of the world feeling to it.
Having seen just how much it costs to take your car on the ferry over to Ameland, we decided to leave in the car park at Holwerd and settle down as lowly foot passengers.
As the sun was shining, we headed straight up to the top deck, so we could watch as the ferry slipped past mud banks that were only a few feet away on both sides. Because of the mud flats, the ferry has to go in a strange kind of ‘S’ shape to reach Ameland, Which as it was a novelty for us, was fine, but I imagine would become rather frustrating if you had to do the journey everyday.
Arriving at Ameland was a rather surreal experience. The rest of the passengers had jumped onto buses and sodded off, before we could get our bearings, literally leaving us alone at a ferry terminal trying to sort out a taxi.
But we are not easily defeated (seriously how did we live before mobiles) and we were soon on our way to Hollum.
Ameland has four villages; Ballum, Buren, Nes and Hollum. Hollum is the largest and around a 15 minute drive from the ferry terminal at Nes. In between the two villages the island is beautiful, there is open countryside as far as you can see, with lots of animals grazing, including deer, which our taxi driver was very keen to tell us about.
Our hotel was great and part of the building was a Mexican restaurant and bar, which is where we spent the rest of Saturday – working our way through the cocktail menu and munching on fajitas.
Our aim for the trip was to walk, so after an excellent breakfast in bed, we took a stroll to the lighthouse. The first thing that grabbed me about Hollum was the space. There was so much of it, apart from the lighthouse, I don’t think we saw a single building more than two storeys high.
Everything was so pretty and neat and well cared for and there were so few people around, it almost felt like one of those ‘after the apocalypse’ movies when life has returned to nature. There were a few cars, but mainly we were dodging bikes and horses and horse poo, which is what happens with all that horse power!
The lighthouse was our first stop – built in 1880 and beautifully set in the middle of a pine forest, it looks strange up-close as it is made of cast iron.
After a little sit down to catch our breath, we hiked (yes, you read that correctly, I hiked; well ‘hike-lite’ I like to call it) across the dunes and onto the quite frankly stunningly beautiful beach.
Not noticing the crushed shells that covered the top half of the beach until we had taken our shoes off, meant some rather entertaining noises and positioning for the people around us. But we soldiered on down to the
bloody freezing North Sea.
There weren’t that many people on that part of the beach, we think it might be because of the thousands of beached jelly fish that were drying in the sun and I am certain were trying to kill me.
Shells and jelly fish aside, it was one of the most desolately beautiful beaches I have ever been on.
After literally HOURS of walking (and we covered a fair few miles) we needed beer, so we headed back in-land, through the fields of sheep to Hollum.
Could it be fate? We made it back just in time to see Murray winning Wimbledon.
There is actually a lot more to do on Ameland than just walk on the beach (but that is all we wanted out of the weekend), which is why I know we’ll be back.