Going from A to B overland around 1400? Impossible! The water was the highway then. Because the land in Waterland was far too ‘boggy’ to move around on, let alone transport things. This endowed Waterland van Friesland with a sophisticated network of waterways, which nowadays everyone can still enjoy.
Does waterborne traffic have priority?
Waterborne traffic is very important for Waterland van Friesland. And is sometimes simply the fastest route. Try going from the village of Woudsend to Heeg. By boat this route is only 3 kilometres, but by bike it is 10 kilometres. Or try to drive through the city centre of Sneek in summer when you are in a rush. You want to bet an open bridge blocks your way? Even traffic on the A6 motorway between Joure and Lemmer is stopped when a boat higher than 3.5 metres approaches. Because that’s when the Scharsterrijnbrug bridge opens. Waterborne traffic then has priority for a while. Or not...?
In the past twenty years, five beautiful aqueducts have been built as part of the Frisian Lakes Project. So cars and boats are no longer in each other’s way and all traffic can flow unimpeded. This provides a wonderful, idiosyncratic image with little boats and sails that seem to glide by on dry land. Perhaps the most beautiful is to be found at Woudsend: the Ie-Akwadukt that crosses the river Ie.Aqueduct route
Ice skates give Frisians wings
Frisians have been moving across the water since time immemorial. But when it freezes, the Frisians fly across the water. While skating you can easily reach speeds of 25 kilometres per hour. But when sailing with a barge, you’ll not exceed a speed of 8 kilometres per hour. So back then it suddenly became possible to visit the aunt you hardly ever visited before in an afternoon. Or pop to the shops quickly. Skating gives you wings, and it’s no accident that every year the Frisians keep their fingers crossed for an Elfstedentocht, the ‘Mother of all Routes’. Could Jack Frost still have one in store for us?