The dunes around The Hague
Published: 03 September 2009 Modified: 25 March 2013
Originally The Hague was a city built on the dunes, which is why, just outside the city, one can enjoy the most wonderful scenery. The dunes are well worth a visit, especially if you like walking or making bicycle trips. The dunes at Kijkduin and Scheveningen are ideal for these type of leisure activities.
The most well-known of the dune areas, however, is Meijendel, which stretches from The Hague to Wassenaar.
The Meijendel Dunes form one of the most important coastal areas of the Netherlands, with over 1 million visitors every year. Yet recreation is not the only role the area plays for the city. The dunes are also of paramount importance to the conservation of wildlife, the collection of drinking water and coastal defence.
Some 7,000 years ago sand deposits and sand barriers were formed along the coastline, upon which the older dunes developed. The remains of the old dunes can still be found in two woodland areas – De Horsten and the Haagse Bos (right in the heart of the city). About 2,000 years ago, the formation of the old dunes began to decline as a result of climate change in these regions.
The climate shift that took place around 1000 AD contributed to the development of younger dunes, which were partly formed on the older ones. The process of formation of the younger dunes continued until about the 12th century. The climate gradually became milder, allowing for vegetation to develop. The dunes around The Hague are now home to hundreds of different plants.
Throughout the centuries the dune landscape has always been ‘on the move’ in the most literal sense of the word. Eroded by the wind, and with plant and animal life changing over time, the dunes are constantly changing. Mankind has always tried to control these changes, and by doing so has left its mark on the dune landscape. Marram grass and trees were planted. Paths were made and patches of land were developed.
It was not until very recently that the decision was made to let nature run its course – in some areas at least – in an attempt to create an opportunity for the original dune landscape to be restored as much as possible.
Meijendel Visitors Centre
Meijendel owes its name to the valley (dal in Dutch) in the dunes, where hawthorn (meidoorn in Dutch) has been growing in abundance since time immemorial.
At the visitors centre in the heart of Meijendel Valley you can get more information on the area. The centre also serves as the starting point for the excursions that are regularly organised by the Dunea water company. Near the visitors centre there is a botanical garden with many typical dune species.
Address & contact
2243 GN Wassenaar
Telephone: (070) 511 72 76
Flora and fauna
Meijendel is ideal for anyone who wants to take a break from the hassle, crowds and traffic of city life in the Randstad. The dunes are a haven of peace to visitors, as well as to the wildlife in the area. Owing to the variation in landscape and the different types of soil, Meijendel offers great biodiversity.
The area harbours over 250 different species of birds. Many small animals such as rabbits, field mice, bats and insects can be found here. Larger wildlife, including deer, foxes and weasels, live here as well. The wetlands in Meijendel are home to toads and frogs.
Meijendel Valley and the surrounding areas to the south-west and south-east of the Meijendel dunes have public footpaths and roads. An annual pass issued by Dunea is required for access to the footpaths of the Kijfhoek-Bierlap-Meeuwenhoek nature reserve. Part of the Meijendel area is not open to public and is only used for biological and geological research.
Meijendel Valley has various hiking paths, including three main routes marked with yellow, blue and red posts. There are also various bicycle paths and bridle paths. The bicycle path on the Pompstationsweg from the Van Alkemadelaan to the Scheveningen Water Tower is lit by eco-friendly LED lamps, which illuminate the path for cyclists while keeping the wildlife in the dark.
Dogs are allowed, provided they are on a leash. After a proper hike through the dunes, you can rest your weary legs and treat yourself to a refreshment at Meijendel Pancake Farm.