The time has come, the very last hike from the Green Heart hikes booklet: the Zwanburger trail in Warmond in the Netherlands. I have not been able to do this trail before, during the corona crisis the foot ferry, which you use to cross the lake ‘t Joppe twice, was taken out of service. But this year (2021) it departs again and I can still do the last trail. The trail is in two parts, though, because of course something went wrong again. In short: I had missed the foot ferry, I had to wait for 45 minutes in the scorching sun for the next departure. I therefore went back a second time.

Hiking map Zwanburger trail
Hiking map Zwanburger trail

Attempt 1: recreational island Koudenhoorn

Well, I will start at the beginning. Full of expectations, I travel to Warmond and start with the Zwanburger trail at the Gemeentehaven. On the way, I encounter beautiful houses. At the harbour, there is a big information panel about the trail.

As you can see from the map on the info panel or on the hiking map, there is a dotted line for an extra trip around the recreational island of Koudenhoorn. There is also a stretch of nature trail on this island, where even dogs are not allowed. I decide to do this bit first and then continue with the ‘real’ trail.

I walk across the Koudenhoorn bridge and am on the island. I turn right towards the nature trail. In the middle of the island is a large grassy area where there are all kinds of tents. It turns out to be a scouting event. It is busy on the island, it is still holiday time and a sunny day after all.

I enter the nature trail via a fence. I walk in a figure eight turn along a grassy path between reeds. Every now and then I have a view on a marsh forest or on a canal, where it is crowded with boats. I also come across some pretty yellow and pink flowers.

I have to say that I do find the path a bit boring 🙈. After 42 Green Heart hikes, a grassy path among the reeds is not so special anymore. So I try to keep up the pace. There are beautiful Dutch skies today, though.

After the nature reserve, a path follows along some boat platforms. I now walk towards the right part of the island.

Boat platform on Koudenhoorn island
Boat platform on Koudenhoorn island

Here there are mostly sunbathing areas, little beaches and playgrounds. It is crowded with people. That’s no surprise on such a sunny day. This must also be where the foot ferry docks somewhere. After a whole lap along the sunbathing areas, I see a sign to the ferry platform. But I also just see a boat leaving. Oh no, that’s the foot ferry. I just missed it! I read on the sign that it can take up to 45 minutes for the boat to return. In vain I wait for about 20 minutes, but the boat is not yet in sight. It is starting to get very hot and there is no shelter. So now I have to wait another 25 minutes, and then actually still do the whole trail. I call it a day, I’ll come back another time.

Sign Zwanburger trail
Sign Zwanburger trail

Fortunately, I had already looked up an alternative trail in case the ferry was out of service: Walking through historic Warmond. But after the fiasco with the ferry, I no longer felt like hiking and, after a short tour of the estate at Huys te Warmond (the mansion is also under construction, so no photo either), I quickly walked towards the bus stop. Where, of course, I also just missed the bus 😡.


Attempt 2: a great experience with the ferry

I get ready as early as possible (10am) to join the ferry. The boat arrives just after ten o’clock. This ferry is in the form of a historic saloon boat called the Heere Schouten. What a special boat it is! The trail and ferry are so much fun, it even has its own website dedicated to it: zwanburgerroute.nl.

When I get on board, I take a seat on a bench and I pay a small fee of 2 euros. There are two gentlemen on the boat and they cheerfully say hello to me. There are no other passengers. One gentleman is the captain and the other gentleman is the guide. He asks if I like birds. I say, “Yes, indeed!” I learn about the area and the birds that live around this place. Especially a lot about geese, oddly enough. For instance, many Canada geese, greylag geese and barnacle geese live here. He points to the pictures of geese on the table.

I am taken to the other side of ‘t Joppe lake. This is where the Zwanburger polder begins. Meanwhile, the gentleman is polishing the glass of a pair of binoculars and tells me that the binoculars were given as a gift by a lady who liked to visit the Zwanburger polder.

Before I get out, I am handed the binoculars. I get to take it with me to spot birds and other animals in the Zwanburger polder. I will be picked up at the next boat platform in half an hour. So I should not linger too much.

I walk along a narrow strip of grass with a low dike between a stream and the lake. To my left I have a wide view over the polder and to my right a view over the lake. This part is only accessible by boat (hence the foot ferry). Several boat platforms have been created for recreational boaters.

I am busy with the binoculars and taking pictures. The half-hour flies by. I arrive at the next ferry platform on time. I can board again and hand in the binoculars. The gentlemen ask me if I have seen anything special in the Zwanburger polder. I tell them that I saw lots of lapwings and cormorants. But a bird of prey and a hare also flew by. The gentleman tells me that the lapwings are gathering for the big trip south.

Northern lapwing
The northern lapwing is one of the Netherlands’ best-known grassland birds. It is easy to distinguish: it has black and white plumage and a distinctive crest. A closer look reveals that its feathers also have an oil-like glow of purple, green and blue. At mating time, the birds make graceful movements in the air and are easily recognisable by there oval wings. The name of the lapwing in Dutch is an onomatopoeia: it calls its own name (kie-vit).

The lapwing is mainly found in agricultural areas. The bird likes to breed in short grass, has 1-2 nests per year with 4 eggs. The eggs are light brown with black spots.

northern lapwing

Source (in Dutch): Vogelbescherming

The ferry continues, now towards peninsula Tengnagel. There I am dropped off. Meanwhile, the guide continues talking about the many Egyptian geese that inhabit Tengnagel. I can see them in the distance. He says they do fly away or move aside when you approach. This is nice, as I had a nasty experience with a goose in a previous hike.

I say farewell to the gentlemen as I get off and watch the ferry as it goes back to the starting point. What a great experience was the ride on the saloon boat! I really didn’t want to miss this, and I’m glad I went back to finish the trail. So the last trail from Hiking in the Green Heart booklet is still a highlight after all.

Ferry platform at Tengnagel
Ferry platform at Tengnagel

Tengnagel and the Strengen nature reserve

The next part of the trail is up next. I walk across the narrow peninsula and the Egyptian geese quickly shear into the water as I approach.

A little further on I go through a fence and I am in the Strengen nature reserve. There are many unpaved footpaths here, and right next to the lake is a good place for recreational visitors on the sunbathing areas. I myself keep walking on the main path.

Not much later, I leave the de Strengen nature reserve via the Broekpolder bridge. I turn right and there is a bench where I take a break. I have a view over the Broekpolder. Here it is clear that I am still close to the city, behind the polder I can see a residential area of Leiden.

Further on, I walk past the Broekdijk windmill. What is a Green Heart hike without a windmill. I photograph the mill from different angles.

The trail continues along the Groote Sloot (the Big Canal), a canal between the Broekpolder and Koudenhoorn island. Last time, I was still walking on the other side of the water. Suddenly I see a vessel approaching. It is another ferry, but without a driver. It does have a passenger on it. I don’t know where the ferry is going, so I didn’t get on. It turns out to be a solar-powered self-running ferry. It was a trial in 2021 and the ferry is apparently going to the island of Koudenhoorn. I don’t know if the ferry is still in operation now. It might be a nicer alternative to the boring part of the trail which is about to come. If I had known that…

There is little interesting to say about the trail from this point. I walk past a golf course and a stretch of nature reserve where it is crowded with dogs and dog-walkers. I then go further over a cycle path along a train track back into Warmond.


Final thoughts

Wow, such a fun experience with the saloon boat! I was not expecting this. The ferry gives the trail extra class. Without this ferry, the trail would have been very boring. That’s why I give this hike a four star rating.

Tip: if you want to do the extra detour on Koudenhoorn island, do it at the end of the trail and not at the beginning. You won’t miss the ferry and it makes the end of the trail a lot nicer.

The ferry operates only between April and October. So you cannot do this trail during the winter season.

Trail: Zwanburger trail
Where: Warmond, Zuid-Holland, in the Netherlands
No of km: +/- 7.5 km
Hiking date: 25 August and 10 September 2021
Materials used in illustrations: coloured pencils for the map, watercolour paints for the other illustrations
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Hiking booklet (not for sale anymore):
hiking booklet Groene Hart wandelingen
About the trail
You can hike the Zwanburger trail by following the 6-sided ANWB signs. But without directions, it is difficult and the trail is not well signposted (anymore). A lot of information about this trail can be found at: Zwanburgerroute.nl.

More hiking in the Green Heart

Want more information about Hiking in the Green Heart? I wrote an extensive blog post about the booklet that is no longer for sale. Here you can find information about all the trails from the booklet and where they can now be found online.


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