The dunes of North-Holland
NS ROUTE | NOORD-HOLLANDS DUINRESERVAAT (15,4 KM)
When you get off the train at Castricum station, you will almost immediately find yourself in a peaceful and natural environment. The NS route through the Noord-Hollands Duinreservaat starts here immediately at the station. A hike set out by this company is based on accessibility by public traffic. Since the NS is the largest public transport company in the Netherlands. So, the route will always be connected by two points that are easily accessible by public transport.
The area along the route on this hike is characterised by a lot of variety between woods, heaths, and dunes. In the dune area, you can also encounter many animals such as cormorants or Scottish highlanders. A hike that has a lot in store for you.
The start of the hike takes you via the Oude Schulpweg towards the forest that separates the dune area from the village of Castricum. This road is named after the shellfishermen who pulled their carts over it. It is surrounded by former dune farmland, a dune area that was used as farm fields. The fields suddenly turn into a forest that does not immediately give you the feeling that you are close to the sea. This quickly changes into a mix of forest, dunes, and polder landscape that gives you a nice diversity.
This dune area has been used as an infiltration area for drinking water since the 1950s. This area is very important for the province of Noord-Holland. Here the water is allowed to flow through the sandy bottom so that all bacteria and viruses are killed. After this, it can be further purified and used as drinking water. Partly for this reason, it is very rich in birds, fish, and plants. The water-rich environment, however, alternates with a pine forest that was once planted to serve as supporting wood in the Limburg mines but nowadays has the opportunity to grow into sturdy and mature trees.
The entire beach, forest, and dune area between Wijk aan Zee and Bergen aan Zee is part of the Noord-Hollands Duinreservaat. The area is about 5,300 hectares, is 20 kilometers long, and 2.5 kilometers wide, making it one of the largest nature reserves in the Netherlands. Would you like to take a walk or bike ride in this area? Then you will need to have an admission ticket worth € 1.80 with you. You can easily purchase this at one of the many ticket machines.
During this route, you walk through the middle part of the reserve. Halfway through the hike, just past the infiltration area around Castricum, the landscape changes abruptly. Here the dunes get higher and you see relief forming in the landscape. Via a beautiful path, you meander over high grass dunes and through deep valleys to the beach at Egmond aan Zee. The dunes here are rough and high with dune tops of up to 30 meters high.
During your walk in the Noord-Hollands Duinreservaat you may encounter different types of animals, but the Scottish Highlander is a common grazer in this area. Chances are, therefore, that you will encounter this animal during a hike. Because of their thick coat, they have the opportunity to graze in the open air all year round. If you come across a highlander it is advisable to keep a good distance, even though the animals will not show aggressive behaviour quickly.
You can encounter these grazers everywhere in the dune area, but of course, they graze in groups and you often encounter several or none at all. After about three-quarters of the walk, you will now and then see Egmond aan Zee looming in the distance. At first, it seems closer than you think from a dune top, but the paths continue to meander through the dunes until you reach the village. From here you can easily take the bus back home.