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Not Drowning, but Waving
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Not Drowning, but Waving

Rescue house, Vlieland Island, Wadden Sea, Friesland

Derek Blyth takes you on micro adventures to L-Spots, hidden and exciting places in the Low Countries. This week he ends up in the Sahara of the North.

Everyone knows the Netherlands is one of the most crowded countries in the world. But wait, here is one windswept place where you might not see another person all day.

The reddingshut (rescue house) on Vlieland is not an easy place to reach. My advice to you would be to take the train to Harlingen, then a ferry to Vlieland and then rent a bike, as there are no cars on the island. Then you have to cycle through the dunes, the wind inevitably against you, until the road comes to an end. That’s the easy part over. Now head west across the vast expanse of white sand known as the Sahara of the North.

Soon you will be alone. Not many people come to this windswept spot in the far north of the Netherlands. During the week, it is an army firing range, so there is a reason why the place is deserted. It feels menacing even at the weekend when they aren’t blasting targets in the dunes. You see strange concrete bunkers dotted around and rusted tanks half buried in the sand.

Eventually you will see the vague outline of a building. Plod on. You finally reach a strange white wooden hut perched on eight wooden stilts, surrounded by shattered wood posts and old rope washed up by the sea. The fragile structure was built as a reddingshut, or refuge, to shelter the victims of shipwrecks. But it looks as if one strong storm could smash it to pieces.

Sometimes a heavy yellow truck comes roaring across the sand bringing tourists to this lonely spot. Occasionally, a military jet screams overhead, practising for some war somewhere. But most of the time it is as silent as the desert.

Website tourism office Vlieland

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