The beautiful landscape of the Reitdiep valley
A unique man-made landscape
The glorious landscape of the Reitdiep valley, northwest of the city of Groningen, owes its character to traces of 2,500 years of habitation and fighting water. This unique man-made landscape has old characteristic mounded villages, such as Garnwerd, Ezinge, Saaksum and Warfhuizen, windy roads and the Reitdiep itself of course. This old sea arm with its reed banks meanders through the Groninger landscape. The area is extremely suitable for water sports (lake Lauwersmeer area) and/or active cycling and walking trips.
Besides the mounded villages there are other traces of a history that goes back centuries. Examples include the estate Landgoed Verhildersum (Leens), the manor houses Piloersemaborg (Den Ham) and Allersmaborg (Ezinge), the pumping station de Waterwolf near Electra and the old lock system of Aduarderzijl with beautiful views of the Reitdiep.
Flora & Fauna
At first glance the Reitdiep area is green and flat with the odd tree, but when you look more carefully you start to see slight variations in the landscape. There is more than grass, there are many flowers and in spring it is a nesting site for meadow birds. During the winter period, when the cows and sheep have disappeared indoors, the mute swans stand out. In the autumn large groups of lapwings and golden plovers stop in the Reitdiep valley and feed on the pasture before they continue their migration.
In spring you will find countless breeding birds on either side of the meander, and those patches are particularly popular with breeding birds including black-tailed godwits, redshanks, and oystercatchers. Garganey are incidental breeders in the area. Outside the breeding season, the Reitdiep area continues to be an important area for birds. In autumn and winter many migrating birds pass through or overwinter here. In those months, the golden plover can be seen in large numbers.
The soil of the Reitdiep area consists of a one-metre thin layer of soft sea clay and as sea clay is barely water permeable, the ditches are full all year round. Those ditches are home to unusual marsh plants, such as mare’s tail, water soldier and water horsetail.
But there is more...
For water-sports enthusiasts there are plenty of options – fishing, canoeing, swimming and boat trips in this area that abounds with water. The seal rescue centre in Pieterburen is famous throughout the Netherlands.
On the culinary front, we can recommend ‘Het Schathoes’ in Den Ham and ‘Onder de linden’ in Aduard to the connoisseurs. The area also has many typical restaurants, with ‘t Kleine Oestertje’ particularly worth a mention.
For those who love culture there are centuries old manor houses and even older churches that really make a visit to this region worthwhile. If you prefer modern art, the museums of Groningen offer an interesting programme.