Mud-walking in the Wadden Sea

 

The Wadden Sea stretches across parts of the northern coastline of the Netherlands and Germany, and even to part of Denmark. In Dutch it is called Waddenzee and in German, Wattenmeer. The curious thing about the Wadden Sea is that it is so shallow that at low tide you can walk across it! This involves walking through a lot of mud, and a guide is essential as they can judge the depth of the water and how soon it will become too deep. Luckily for the Dutch, they are tall!

Some years ago I visited friends in the Netherlands, and they booked a guided tour in Friesland (a province in the north) to do some mud-walking (Wadlopen). I think they might have booked the guide through this organization. The whole sea does not have mud underneath, of course, and some point you get to more sandy ground, but the initial section is indeed very muddy. Before the tour we went to town to buy some cheap shoes, as my friends said the shoes might get so dirty that you would never be able to wear them again. In the end the mud did come off though, and I kept the shoes in case I ever go Wadlopen again!

In the first section the mud was very deep and at one point I literally got stuck in the mud, but luckily the tall Dutch guys had less problem than us smaller people, and one of them gave a helping hand to pull me out. The trick to walking was to always keep one foot off the ground and sort of keep in motion, because once you put two feet down in that deep, thick mud, you become rooted there like a tree and it was hard to pull your feet out. A few people turned back during the initial stretch of thick mud as it was too much for them. But after a while you get used to the style of walking, and it also becomes a little easier as you get away from the mud flats into the sand flats.

We did head into deeper water later on though. Once again relying on the tall guys, I gave my daypack to my friend’s husband, as the water was well up to the point that it would have got wet otherwise. Luckily the water was not cold and it was a warm day, so it was refreshing.

Standing in the middle of the Wadden Sea was amazing, as it is very flat and you could see the horizon all around. It was like being in a planetarium but with a day view.

After chilling in the middle for a while (I found it funny how everyone tried to stand on the highest part of the ground even though our feet were all already completely wet), we headed back to shore, where we spent quite some time washing our shoes, feet and legs. then after all the work it was time for some great Dutch snacks, bitterballen and fries with peanut sauce!

 

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