If there is one area in the Netherlands that has a definite land’s end feel to it, it is the north of Groningen province. This land can feel desolate, and the strong wind may blow the hiker down, but it has a beauty to it that is hard to describe. When hiking here you will come across old villages on man made elevations, endless green pastures and the sky will seem higher than elsewhere. When following the hiking track near the old town of Appingedam the Groningen countryside will reveal itself to you in all its beauty.
Downloading the hiking track around Appingedam
You can find the GPS track for this 14 km hike starting and ending at the railway station of Appingedam on Wandelzoekpagina.nl. The track is named after the 5 churches that you will pass when you follow this trail.
Note: outside of the old town Appingedam there are no bars, restaurants or shops, so you will need to bring your own food and water if you need any. Also note that this is a hiking trail that passes by many unpaved roads and it might be muddy, so bring good (high) hiking shoes.
Description of the hiking trail around Appingedam
Appingedam historical town
Appingedam is a quaint town with about 12.000 inhabitants that dates back to the 12th century. When hiking through it you will pass by many historical buildings, such as the Nicolai church and the town hall. As tiny and remote as it may seem now, in the Middle Ages this was an important harbor and trade center. Its harbor function has been taken over by nearby Delfzijl now, but it is Appingedam that has the touristic appeal with its old houses with hanging kitchens above the Damsterdiep river.
There are several restaurants, café’s and shops here in case you need food or supplies before you head on.
After leaving the old town of Appingedam, the trail passes through the new town and along Damsterdiep river, before it gets to the pastures. Passing a roundabout you will come across your first typically Groningen church. This is the church of Tjamsweer. What is typical about it, is that it is built on a “wierde”, a man made elevation, to protect it from flooding.
Its foundations date back to the 11th century, a time when there were no dikes to protect this area. The church itself is a bit newer. It dates back to 1538, when it was rebuilt after being destroyed by an enemy army. You may notice the difference in style between the tower and the rest of the church. The tower is newer and was built in the 18th century.
Hiking around Appingedam: through the pastures
From here on the trail passes through the countryside of Groningen province. You will soon understand why the Dutch word for countryside is “platteland“, meaning “flat land”. I thought hiking here was almost like a meditation! This meditation was disturbed a couple of times though, by flocks of enthusiastic young cows. They came running towards us when we passed their fields. It was a little scary! You don’t want a flock of cows running all over you. Luckily they stayed behind their fence.
Arwerd, Krewerd and Jukwerd
Further on the hiking trail passes by the tiny villages of Arwerd, Krewerd and Jukwerd. The “werd” at the end of all the village’s names refers to “wierde“, the name for the man made elevations in this area. In between it’s mainly pastures, big old farms and wide views. And cows & sheep of course. I especially liked the bits of unpaved trail that passed through the fields.
Krewerd has a church: the Maria church that dates back to the 13th century. And you may notice an old church in Jukwerd, that is not in service any more. It is an artists residence.
Hiking back towards Appingedam
From Jukwerd it is a short hike back towards the railroad tracks. The hiking track follows the railroad in the direction of Appingedam. Here you may catch a train back towards Groningen or on towards Delfzijl. You could of course also go for a drink or meal in Appingedam.
How to get to Appingedam by public transport
Getting to Appingedam is quite easy. Just get a train to the city of Groningen. In Groningen you change to a local train towards Delfzijl. This train stops in Appingedam.
What to do after the hike around Appingedam?
Though easy, getting to Appingedam is time consuming if you come from one of the big cities such as Amsterdam or Rotterdam. Count on almost 3 hours one way. Visiting Appingedam and hiking in its surroundings is barely possible as a day trip. My advice would be to stay in the vibrant student town Groningen for at least 1 night. They have some excellent museums there and a lot of bars and restaurants.
Another option is to stay in Delfzijl. Delfzijl is a rather grey and boring town, but they have one trump card: the Eemshotel. In my blogs I don’t usually recommend hotels, because I feel I haven’t stayed in enough places to be able to compare them. I will make an exception for this hotel though. The rooms weren’t even that special. This is all about location: outside of the dike, above the sea. The views are outstanding!
When I arrived there the weather had changed from rather sunny to grey. So this place seemed to be at the end of the world. There was nothing to be seen beyond it. It was so mysterious! On brighter days it must be amazing too: darkness, stars and birds.
They have their own restaurant which was amazingly good for such a remote place. I enjoyed my meal both for the food and for the views.
Some renovation work has been done to the Eemshotel, so my picture of it is a little outdated. But I hope this gives you an idea of its location.