Network of footpaths ‘Past Lines and Streams’
Trace the battles fought by State-Spanish armies in Eastern Zeeland-Flanders
This land bears the scars of the State-Spanish skirmishes of the Eighty Years’ War. Any path’ll take you past streams and grassy dikes of green. History has surely made its mark on Zeeland-Flanders. Polders of variety, the unparalleled ‘Drowned Land of Saeftinghe’ and the Burgundian villages around here, Hulst as number one, all add up to perfect pedestrian pursuits. Use the Map of Walks ‘Past Lines and Streams’ as a jumping board.
A battle of water
Land that is now polder was once shaped by the lengthy inlets of the sea. That same sea is the architect, in a manner, of all of Zeeland. Many a battle between man and sea, many a line in the sand was drawn, only to be washed away by yet more waves. The streams and lakes of Eastern Zeeland-Flanders are, by and large, remnants of those inlets, and if not, the result of inundations. The Orange-sympatico State troops intentionally flooded nearly 75 percent of Zeeland-Flanders, as part of their campaign against the Spanish forces.
The water at Axel was an enormous obstacle for the Allied Forces, keen to liberate the land at the close of WWII. Now, though, all this water is at peace, and you will love the soulful stroll through these watery fragments of nature.
Lines of walks
It was just south of Axel that the State-Spanish battles were fought. One side, the State, set out to flood the land, whereas the Spanish forces laid down dikes to handle that influx. They then built forts on the dikes, a defensive line of sorts, many traces of which are still visible today. Some have even been reconstructed, so as to preserve forever those tumultuous times - Fort Sint-Joseph is one of these.
Unlike anywhere else: the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe nature reserve
Salt marshes and mud flats are a-mile-a-minute in Zeeland. The Drowned Land of Saeftinghe is peerless in the fact that its waters are still salty. Europe has but handful of these wetlands left. Using the Map of Walks ‘Past Lines and Streams’ will point you in the right direction past this land, as will a stop at the visitors centre (hyperlink). Actually exploring the reserve involves having a guide come with you, just to be on the safe side. The ‘Zeeuws Landschap’ nature conservation agency has regular tours.
Go along the Hulst ramparts
As fortified towns go, hustling Hulst is hard to beat. Many of the town ramparts are still intact, and make for an interesting walk. They embrace the town centre, in all its charming snugness, including period town hall and St. Willibrord basilica. There are hints of Reynaert the Fox, left, right and centre in town, an epic figure from classic Dutch literature. The Museum ‘Vier Ambachten’ is happy to let you in on all the cunning foxy secrets, not to mention all of Hulst history.
Buy your map of walks online
There’s no need to brave the weather to get your map of walks. You can simply order the ‘Past Lines and Streams’ map in our web store.
Some routes traverse private property, we’re the guests here. The following rules apply:
- Entry permitted only between sunrise and sunset
- Enter at your own risk
- Dogs, horses, bicycles and motorbikes are not permitted, unless expressly stated otherwise
- Keep a sensible distance from all livestock
- The path is closed on 1st January (Happy New Year!)
- The path may be closed temporarily at other times
- Leave no trace
- Failure to comply with these rules will see your permission suspended (under Article 461 Criminal Code)
Access to private land
It is prohibited to access private land with dogs, horses, bicycles, scooters and motorbikes. Dogs might infect the livestock with disease, so some parts of the route are closed to dogs. The route map will clearly mark this – a red dot with an arrow – and will show the alternate path for you to take, over the regular road.
For your own personal safety, it is essential to keep a sensible distance from cattle. Do not feed them, ever. Horses in particular are bound to become very intimidating if you feed them. The footpath may be closed temporarily for maintenance or hunting. The land owner will have marked this on the route signposts, so that you can choose an alternative.
If we comply with these rules, we shall all be able keep using these private grounds in the future.