A coastal treasure hunt

The VVV Zeeland events calendar has a culinary walk through the nature of Groede, in West-Zeeuws Vlaanderen.

I had hoped to go on this walk last year, but didn’t get round to it. So it’s number one on my to-do-list for this year! Best go on the very first walk of the season, I think. What a great start it was! A perfectly gorgeous sunny Sunday – fancy that on 9th April!

At 9.45 we all gather on the parking lot of Restaurant De Deining. The sun promises to give us a glorious day, though there is a slight nip in the air, for now. Our guide, Soan Lan Ie, is bursting with excitement at taking the group out, introducing herself to us with bright smiles and a spring in her step.

Nature’s sounds are unspoilt and uninterrupted, at this early-morning hour, and we get to feel and look and listen, all at once. Our guide tells us all there is to know about the plant varieties, the animal tracks and the sounds of birdsong around us. Our girls happen to be the only kids in today’s group and they soon strip ahead with Soan Lan, asking her heaps of questions and relishing the discoveries she shares with them.

After a pleasant wander through the dune gardens, we cross over the dunes onto the beach. Plenty of opportunity to go off on a seashell and crab hunt. On the so-called paalhoofden (‘pole heads’), we not only find masses of seaweed, we even daringly take a bite, or two. It doesn’t get much closer to nature than this, crunching sandy seaweed between our teeth.

Soan Lan shows off all her treasures – in a proper treasure box, too – which include the obvious seashells and even some sharks’ teeth and bones. Our girls insist on going back here in the afternoon, to gather some similar goodies for themselves!

Passing the look-out point on our way, we go down the coast to Cletemspolder, spotting a bi-coloured millipede on the way. We sample a bite of miner’s lettuce, yum!

Adventure time next: a hanging bridge and hand-drawn raft. After that, we carry on walking, protected from the wind by the vegetation, the sun gently warming our backs as we go. It’s thirsty work, this walking, and we’re starting to work up an appetite too. What a happy surprise to spot big pitchers of chilled water on a beautifully laid table, at the end of our walk!

We all flop down at the table, cool drink in hand. A lovely bowl of vegetable consommé to start, including some of the very miner’s lettuce we sampled on the way.

A selection of scrumptious dishes with Zeeuwse produce are set before us, in little bowls: asparagus wrapped in Zeeuws bacon, traditional eel-in-veggies, an endive and mandarin salad, some caramelised pears, and much, much more. The surprise lunch was just a perfect ending to a perfectly gorgeous walk.

If you use the ZeelandPas, you get a 25% discount, making it an affordable and fabulous family day out.

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