Friday, January 04, 2019

New Year's Exploration: Ellewoutsdijk Fort

Those who've been following my blog for the last few years will know that we have made it a habit to go to the coast on New Year's day, and despite the gloomy weather, we didn't depart from that habit this year either, but we did change one part of our routine. Instead of heading for the Zeeuws shoreline, we stayed in Zeeland proper and explored an area we've never visited before. 

I was looking at the map of the east side of the Westerschelde tunnel, the 6.6 kilometre tunnel that passes under the estuary. It's quite a challenge to reach it because the approach to said tunnel restricts access to the area, the reason being that it is a toll road and the powers that be don't want people nipping off and into the country before they've coughed up the approximately €5 required. What this means is that the villages and farms in the vicinity are very peaceful and quiet, although I'm guessing that in the summer that might be different.

We were heading for the village of Ellewoutsdijk, which Google reliably informed me had a fort that looked interesting. And it was. All of it. We found a small beach on the way to do our regulation walk along the sands, and then we drove towards the village itself.

What a delight it turned out to be. Quaint, pretty, cobbled, you name it, the village had it. There was also a marina, an interesting (and very old) wetland area, and (of course) the fort.

Koos doing what Koos does on the beach

I did my best to smile, but the wind was bitter, I have to admit

Not a big beach, but enough for us

The weather became gloomier, but I loved these mudflats at Ellewoutsdijk

The entrance to the marina

 The fort was built after the 1830 separation of Belgium from the Netherlands. Founded on a much older site, its purpose was to protect the estuary and Vlissingen. However, during WWII, it was taken over and occupied by the Germans who used it for POWs and defence. It obviously took a beating as the shell pits in the walls show (see bottom photo).

We were lucky because it wasn't actually open, but there was a friendly concierge there who welcomed us in and gave us a tour of the interior and the inner courtyard. I can imagine worse places to be locked up; the huge arched rooms were wonderful. Of course the Germans found it useful as they didn't have to worry about where to put their guns; the emplacements were still there. I have to confess I barely understood anything the concierge said. His accent was so strong it all just sounded like words in a tumble dryer to me, but his friendliness made up for everything, and luckily I can read, so I nodded, smiled, let Koos do the talking and took photos of the literature to devour later.

The Fort 'blurb'.

These days the Fort is a museum, but it's also used for events and apparently there was even a music festival held there a year or so ago. A fascinating place and well worth a summer visit.
The fort 

An impressive wall that originally looked out to sea, but now looks onto the
massive sea dyke

The interior room are wonderful

The inner courtyard 

And again

Shell marks around one of the gun emplacements

It was a real treasure of a find and we'd love to go back. On the way home, we found a gezellig Dutch café that was open for business so we topped off the trip by having coffee and apple pie...there really is nothing better on a cold day.

Have a great week, allemaal. I hope you have all settled into 2019 now and got used to writing 9 instead of 8! It'll take me a while. For now, wishing you all the very best for the coming months!


  1. Koos looks like he's digging for gold and you look COLD, Val! But what a wonderful, moody place to visit. I got shivers looking at it and thinking about the way it had been used and seeing the shell marks. Thanks for sharing this great tradition you have and Happy 2019. I have to keep writing it to remember it, but it shouldn't take long since 9 is my favorite number! (Steph)

    1. Thank you, Steph! Yes, it was bitter, but we had a great day out. . Keep warm, dear!

  2. What a lovely discovery on a blustery New Year's Day! I do enjoy the idea of an annual walk by the sea to bring in each new year. Alas, we are landlocked...
    Will we get to see what Koos has managed to capture while doing what he does?
    Happy New Year, Val and Koos! xxxx

  3. What a lovely start to 2019, even if it was cold. Bet you really enjoyed the coffee and apple pie. I walked nearly 10km on the streets of London on New Year's Day - fun but the coast would have been nice. Happy New Year xx

  4. Thank you, Dale and Jude! I'm having trouble commenting on my own blog at the moment, so I hope this works. It was really a lovely day and we always enjoy it. I'm glad we aren't landlocked, and Jude, hat's off for your 10km walk! Rather you than me :)

  5. What an interesting day to ring in the New Year, Val. Yes, it sure looks cold, but what fun to walk on a beach and see that fascinating, and beautifully built, fort. I can see that it would merge into the landscape. Happy New Year to you both!

  6. Thank you Patricia. It was a memorable New Year's day indeed. Happy New Year to you too!

  7. Seeing Koos taking close up photos of beach pebbles reminds me of the weekend Simone and I stayed over and I started photographing every bit of ground :D

  8. Happy New Year Val and thanks for sharing about your beach walk. Golly, it looks so cold but you are wrapped up so warmly. Love reading about the old fort you found. What a lovely New Year tradition and a great way to start a new year. Julie xx

  9. "His accent was so strong it all just sounded like words in a tumble dryer to me"... Only you Val could come up with a description like this. ROFL.

  10. A fascinating, off-the-beaten-track place. MUCH better than more conventional holiday destinations. We'd have loved this, in spite of the cold!

  11. Hi Val - yes the North Sea can be positively freezing and generate that ghastly cold wind ... we're about due for a short northerly blast - but it's been relatively warm since I returned I'm pleased to say.

    The fort looks very much like our Napoleonic Redoubt here in Eastbourne ... here - should you or Koos wish to look further:

    Sadly it's being encroached by the sea ... and is in dire need of restoration. It's very historic and unique ... and I think the only one open to the public in the UK. The Council is looking to get a heritage grant for restoration - but it's a lot of cash ...

    Love seeing your countryside though ... Happy New Year to you both - cheers Hilary

  12. Brrrrr!
    Glad we live in Southern California where it gets down to a chilly 7C at night. We have had a bit of rain over the last couple of days, however. Much appreciated in this desert. Come visit anytime! 😎

  13. @Stuart: I remember that too! I have a photo of you both squatting down taking pictures of poppies. Happy New 2019, Stu!

    @Julie: It was bitter, but we both enjoyed it. We wouldn’t miss our New Year’s beach walk for anything but snow! Thank you, Julie and have a great summer :)

    @Patti: thank you! I’m glad it made you laugh...that’s a good way to start the year too :)

    @Christina: We thought so too, and we were so lucky the concierge was kind enough to show us round. Wishing you and yours a great year!

    @Hilary: lovely to hear from you again! I’ll take a look at that fort of yours there. Ours has been restored too although I suspect it was local government that paid for it.

    @Don and Cathy Jo: I would love that! To come and visit you there...your life is my ideal :) Happy New Year to you both and I’ll look forward to following your adventures again this summer.


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