Gold in them (Dutch) Hills

There’s a general feeling among the Dutch that there’s no nature in the Netherlands. And that what little there is is often beset by masses of Dutch people looking for nature, which tends to downplay the experience. If you want to be alone and/or in the wilderness in Holland, you leave the country. Which is why the place is so empty during the summer.

But really, any time of the year, I’ve never found that myth of non-existent nature to be true. You just have to know where to look for wilderness in this country, and when to go. The entire length of Holland’s coast, for example, is a series of dune parklands with bike and foot access only. They’re some of the most beautiful dunes I’ve ever seen, and if you go at the right time, you’ll be the only person there, or at least you’ll feel like you’re the only person there, which is the point. Saturday at 3pm on a sunny July afternoon would not be that time. 8am on a Monday, however, is. Any time of year, even peak summer. In fact, your chances then of seeing a stag or a pair of hawks are greater than seeing the usually invasive homo sapien.

OK, it’s not the Alps or the Gobi desert, and you may come across this:

or this:

or very occasionally hear the sound of a generator running somewhere as a reminder that there are people around, but for the most part it’s deliciously silent, and empty – that’s gold in a country as crowded as Holland. And the nice thing is that this country is so small that those places are never too far away, and you don’t need a car to get there.