Areas of natural beauty in West Zeeland-Flanders
Our three areas of natural beauty are Het Zwin, the Verdronken Zwarte Polder and the Waterdunen. Inland from these three coastal splendours, you’ll see old polders and ancient creeks. Het Zwin area – and its sibling, the Zwinweide - is very dynamic, comprising dunes, salt marshes and polders. A fascinating feature is the ‘slufter’, a mesh of semi-tidal creeks in mudflats which, strictly speaking, only works at spring tide. It is essential in dispensing the wealth of organisms and minerals which renew the ecosystem in an absorbing play between wet and dry, salt and sweet, and clay and sand. In the Zwin ‘slufter’ you’ll often find old sharks’ teeth, some 40 million years old. Its mouth and the sandy areas are open, but the mudflats can only be visited on an excursion.
The Verdronken Zwarte Polder
The polders around Nieuwvliet are centuries old, from when that watery area was called ‘Zwarte Gat’ or ‘black hole’ (don’t ask!). In the one remaining, Verdronken (drowned) Zwarte Polder, at high tide, the sea gushes in. Good for the farmers, mind, and the foodies: sea aster and glasswort (sea lavender) abound. Higher up, nature has curated some impressive dunes. When you walk through, the birds hide in the bushes but, hey, they might serenade you.
In the wide spaces between Groede and Breskens, where the land and the sea rub shoulders, the Waterdunen area of natural beauty is being made fit for recreational purposes too. Especially interesting is the way it goes with the flow of the Westerschelde: a sort of tidal valve system called a ‘getijdenduiker’ which lets the water of the estuary in, and out. The blend of water and land, the briny and the sweet, the ebb and flow make it attractive for much birdlife – and for cultivating saline vegetables in the Kustlaboratium, a test bed for new coastal ideas.
The birds are very much at home here – and so shall you be, too. Any day now and the boulevard will offer some splendid strolls in the marshes and mudflats and some snacks on the terrace. Cyclists and horse-riders have their own dedicated pathways. Check here for the latest news, and go on an excursion to explore more.