Geography was my favourite subject at school and the bit that covered the Netherlands and their land reclamation was especially interesting growing up, as I did, opposite Holland in Norfolk, also rich in windmills and low lying land.  The building of the Afsluitdijk that closed off the Zuider Zee to make the Ijesselmeer fascinated me.  Now I have finally not just been able to see it but drive over it.


Work began on the dam in 1927 and the final block was put in place in 1932.  Now, as then, the twenty mile dam carries a motorway.  Gawping at this incredible structure is plainly a bit of a thing so there is sensibly a viewing platform in the middle of the dam.  You can climb to the top and see the North Sea lapping on the northern edge of the Afsluitdijk a good four meters above the more tranquil waters of the Ijesselmeer on the southern side.


When I was eighteen I embarked on a cycling tour of the Netherlands with my friend Hilary.  It was our intention to cycle across the dam.  It was only the wise counsel of some Dutch cyclists that we met in a youth hostel that stopped us.  Did we realise that the dam alone was twenty miles long?  Did we also realise how windy it was?  Having now struggled to stand upright on the cycle track made me realise how wise we were to choose another route.

Oregon Girl Around the World


  1. August 20, 2017 / 7:16 am

    So pleased you finally got to see it (safely) and that it met your expectations. Hope you’re having fun. #MySundayPhoto

  2. August 20, 2017 / 8:43 am

    I cycled Holland with a friend at 17 staying in youth hostels, I must say we didn’t attempt the dam!

  3. bavariansojourn
    August 20, 2017 / 9:45 pm

    Amazing isn’t it? My Grandmother is Dutch so I have spent a lot of time there over the years! 🙂 #sundayphoto

    • August 21, 2017 / 8:41 am

      Incredible, the longer we spend in the polderlands the more miraculous the whole country seems

  4. August 24, 2017 / 9:12 am

    What a fun post! I was born in the south of The Netherlands and I guess I didn’t see Afsluitdijk until I was 11. I drove over it a couple of years ago and that was pretty awesome too. A year ago, flying back from Dresden, it was clear on the way back and we could see the Afsluitdijk from the sky. So awesome!!

    • August 24, 2017 / 12:14 pm

      We’ve driven round the Ijesselmeer/Markenmeer to get to Amsterdam now and I’m still blown away br the whole thing

  5. August 24, 2017 / 11:10 am

    it must have been fun to finally cross it:) #farawayfiles

  6. August 24, 2017 / 12:10 pm

    My Dad used to take us on dam tours when we were kids.. we used to say ”not another dam wall Dad’.. hilarious #FarawayFiles

    • August 24, 2017 / 12:13 pm

      That will be what my children will say of me!

  7. August 24, 2017 / 4:13 pm

    So interesting! I love when you study about a place and finally get to see it! I think this is one of those that may be more impactful in person – hard to get a sense for the size of the water it holds back if you aren’t there? Is it true? Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • August 24, 2017 / 4:36 pm

      The sheer size of dam and water was jaw dropping and as for the strength of the wind. You got a real sense of man’s battle against the elements

  8. August 24, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    I grew up in Norfolk too so am very familiar with flat lands, the north sea and windmills, much less familiar with the Netherlands though. I wasn’t even aware of this dam, fascinating, thanks for sharing. #FarawayFiles

    • August 24, 2017 / 9:25 pm

      Norfolk is a wonderful place to grow up in!

  9. August 24, 2017 / 9:41 pm

    Wow. I genuinely had no idea that there were dams THAT big in the Netherlands. I guess – at the risk of showing my ignorance – I thought the sea was kept at bay by a series of smaller dams. I mean, how do you even build such a thing?? I will definitely check this out – thanks for the inspiration! #FarawayFiles

    • August 24, 2017 / 9:43 pm

      Well worth crossing the dam for the lakes of Freisland

  10. August 25, 2017 / 2:10 am

    I’m trying to figure out how to pronounce Afsluitdijk, but I don’t think I have it quite right!

    • August 25, 2017 / 7:30 am

      We have been defeated by most pronunciations here and even when we think that we have cracked it we open our mouths only to realise that it is wrong!

  11. August 25, 2017 / 11:46 am

    Good thing you had a car this time around! 20 miles on a windy road would take forever to ride a bike or walk! #FarawayFiles

  12. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    August 26, 2017 / 4:16 pm

    I live in the Fens now so I’m always intrigued by constructions such as this. I wish we had a few motorways like that where we live, instead of sitting behind tractors on single carriageways!

    • August 26, 2017 / 4:49 pm

      We used to cross the Fens to visit my grandparents, I remember those tractors!

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