Admittedly, I mainly link Friesland to skating and the Elfstedentocht. Funny that exactly on the weekend when Siberian cold is expected, blizzard Darcy is imminent, we head north. However, not for skating, nor to visit the famous eleven cities.
We are actually looking for small unknown villages during a rally ride. That means that the TomTom or Google Maps are not available; we will have to do it old-fashioned with a few A4 pages. Where not even clues are given; only vague maps and numbered places we pass in between. That will be counting roads and looking for landmarks such as water and bridges on the paper.
You can do rally driving in different ways, let’s tell us by the route planner Business Rally Events. We have the so-called point-point: per map we always drive the shortest way from, yes, point to point. At least, that’s the intention. The question is whether we have the right points. They are not visible along the road. All the driver has to do is press the accelerator and steer: fate rests with the navigator who gives the directions. Hope it turns out fine!
The tour counts 90 kilometers through a part of Friesland that is less known to tourists, starting on the outside of Heerenveen. Rest assured: we are not going to discuss all 40 highlighted points one by one, try it out for yourself.
View towards the Tjeukemeer.
Ⓒ Sigrid Stamkot
For now we stop between points 2 and 3, the Marswâl along the Tjeukemeer where, in better times, we always make skate rides. Over the swampy meadows we see in the distance in light mist and with watery eyes from the cutting cold – the snowstorm is coming – the largest inland waterways in the province of Friesland lie.
A wide view over a beautiful piece of nature, with birds that migrate over us from nowhere. A nice place to open the fully arranged picnic box, including typical Fryske dúmkes biscuits: after all, you cannot drive or navigate on an empty stomach.
However, the trip is calling, because we still have at least 85 kilometers to go. We cross the smallest Frisian villages. Adorable and quaint, even on a drab day like this. Almost all have the same typical characteristics: mirror-smooth water with the characteristic flat-bottomed boats such as tjalken, of course also known as skûtsjes, a charming marina, the pointed houses along it and a church.
One of the first examples, marked as point 11, is Terkaple. The town, with approximately 225 inhabitants, owes its name to the chapel next to the house of the Oenema family, after which a street is also named. The pollard willows reflect in the water, a tractor drives in the distance and otherwise it is a picture of tranquility.
Friesland is also reminiscent of the award-winning The Chameleonbook series devoured years ago. The Kameleondorp in Terhorne is then a feast of recognition. The amusement park that opened its doors in the early 2000s is closed, but the recreated village can be seen from the road, including a replica of the famous boat of the twins Sietse and Hielke. Traditionally, this is located next to hotel De Gouden Leeuw. A mecca for children, so put it on the list for when we are allowed again!
Also on the wish list, the slightly larger Akkrum that fits on a painting like that (and probably also appears somewhere), although the boats are mainly in the river Boorne. The origin of this canal is honored with two steel works of art designed by Jan de Wit. They represent Manke Meine and Kromme Knilles, the giants who, according to the legend, would have dug the Boorne 1400 years ago with bare hands.
Akkrum, according to myth originated by the canal dug by giants.
Knilles is said to have discovered a bend in the ditch near Akkrum, on which he said, aloud, slightly irritated, “Ah crooked!” would have shouted at his comrade. The bend caused such a quarrel that the two each plowed in their own direction, but it led to the title of the village Akkrum (farmers in the area had understood ‘akkrom’). A nice story for the counter of one of the three brown cafes in the village.
We continue straight through Smallingerland to about half of the tour: Kortehemmen, which is crossed by the A7. The center of the village is higher than the surrounding grounds, also called hemmen, to explain another name. The adjoining old deciduous forest, the Reigerbos, is beautiful, even in this drabness.
How the driver and navigator fare in the meantime? Above the sounds of speed-boosting music by Bruce Springsteen, Golden Earring and Fleetwood Mac, the navigator shouts “Left here!” or ‘On three roads to the right!’, whereby the A4s are frantically turned in the direction. And turned back again.
Mirrored trees, somewhere on the road.
Ⓒ Sigrid Stamkot
After which there is a complex look, a few times a U-turn on the narrow farm roads has to be made (“Have you seen a bridge?” “No.” “Hm. Should have been. Well, if you see one, if you go over it! ”), maybe, very maybe because of the lack of that bridge, Google Maps is turned on for a short while and then they continue in good spirits.
To stop at a real willow art work near Drachten: Dûnsjende Kraenfûgels by Atelier Jong en Oud. Just like that, on the side of the road, there are two life-size colossus, one reaching for the sky, the other with its wings down. Indeed, as if they were dancing. Not an official point on the route, but we make it here!
What the tour teaches us is that the vastness of the landscape, the undisturbed nature, the tranquility of the villages and the works of art are as relaxing as they are surprising. Well, the weather and the lockdown are not cooperating, but if it surprises us in this situation, what will it be like when the sun is shining exuberantly, the blue sky contrasts with the green of the grass and the brown of the wavy reed, the terraces on the water are full and the skûtsjes sail along the quays? Along with the special way of exploring this area, while looking at an old-fashioned map, you are even more aware of the area with its bridges, mills, the waters and farmlands and farms. A nice adventure.
An adventure that we conclude with a final surprise: the stunning country houses in the wooded area of Oranjewoud. The one even bigger than the other, all equally stately with millimeter-cut grass in their gardens in Baroque style after the French example, interspersed with houses that seem to come straight from the fairytale Hans and Gretel.
In 1676, the Oranges bought the Sickingastate estate in 1676 in addition to three farms and renamed it Oranjewoud. Naturally, the necessary distinguished families followed with impressive houses, where we now rally drive past to end in our B&B Uitgerust voor Zaken in Heerenveen.
Opening a red wine and with the snack board on the table, we conclude: the eleven cities may be best known, but the dozens of smaller villages are certainly worth a visit. Whether or not rally driving.
More information about rally driving: equippedvoorzaken.nl.
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