Inland Dunes – The Heath – The Heide

Where to begin, I find my self wondering with this post. This is a bit different kind of a thing in respect to what I normally have been writing, since it is not about a certein trip, but about a nature type.

There is a thing, a landscape if you wish, called Heide, or Heath in English. Basically, what we are talking about, are inland dunes. I find the heide a very interesting form of landscape. Back home in Finland we do not have anything like that and it is weird to see so large sand areas in Belgium.

Half of Belgium used to be covered in these heides, since the country used to be seabed, in result of sea being pushed away, the dunes were left quite far behind inland. Most of the heide has been cultivated now and is being used as farm lands and cities were born on it.

Still some areas remain as heide, and are now being protected, and sheep, ponies and cows are used to keep the vegetation under control. In Belgium we have them close to Antwerp and to the east, in the Limburg province. We came by one in Germany too, in Lüneburg, to be exact.

The soil of the heide is sand and it heats up in the sun rapidly which means that on the heide it is usually a couple of degrees warmer than the surroundings during daytime, but once the sun sets they cool down quickly too.

The sand makes it also dry, very dry and prone to fires. When ever you visit the area, you’ll see the signs of the fiery past.

First time I saw a heide, it was in Belgium, the one next to Antwerp. I thought I had come to some sort of mini savanna. The colors of the place were surreal, the contrasts between green mosses in between pale grass and blue skies. We were walking through a painting.

The German heide in Lüneburg was a bit different terrain. There were more hills and bushes, even bits of forest. Beautiful all together. With luck, you are able to come by some wildlife too, deer and even boar. The place is full of heather, and closer to autumn the place turns into beautifully scented purple.

A deer, wondering whether or not we spotted her.

In August we returned to the Belgian heide, in a small village of Kalmthout. The fields of heather were in bloom.

Purple batches mixing in the green grass, the colors of the landscape were completely different compared to the colors of the spring. Also the bees were very busy collecting nectar for honey, making a huge buzz.

The weather was so hot that our skin started forming small fountains! It had rained heavily the night before, and the heat evaporated the water so that it hung around the bushes, making the air almost suffocating. Some beer was needed to get us through the walk.

What is nice about the heide, is that not many people actually realize that they exist. If you just go and wonder a bit deeper into the dunes, you are in solitude, with the bees and the sheep.


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