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The hiking routes of Dutch Railways

Walking from one train station to the next. That’s exactly what you’ll do if you follow the long-distance hiking routes that were developed by Wandelnet for Dutch Railways (NS). Some of these routes will take you through the Defence Line area.
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Ankeveense Plassen

You’ll be walking through the moors (Franse Kampheide) to the Gooise Lusthoven, where you’ll encounter impressive mansions that used to serve as summer residences for well-to-do families. This beautiful area is characterized by winding paths, lanes and ponds. After a stop at the visitor centre of Natuurmonumenten, you’ll soon be leaving the woods. The grassy path that takes you along the beautiful Ankeveense Plassen (lakes) can be soggy. Cross the river Vecht and take the footpath Stelling van Amsterdam (Defence Line of Amsterdam) through the age-old Aetsveldse Polder to the town of Weesp.


The Geniedijk is a remnant from the past. Walking along this dike, you look out over an area that has changed enormously. It’s hard to imagine that 160 years ago the ‘Water Wolf’, as Lake Haarlemmermeer was called, unleashed its gushing waves here. When the water reached the gates of Amsterdam it was decided that it was time to tame the lake and pump it dry. At the heart of the new polder the town of Hoofddorp was created. Having left the forts and batteries of the Geniedijk behind you, you’ll be walking through a recreational area along the ring canal of the Haarlemmermeer. From April through September, a ferry can take you to the impressive Cruquius pumping station. Following a towpath along the river Spaarne you’ll wind up in the beautiful city centre of Haarlem. All in all it’s an interesting and varied walk through an area that is abound with activity.


The Kennemerduinen dune route criss-crosses Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, which consists of sand dunes, country estates and beaches. Across the country estates of Duin- en Kruidberg and Midden Herenduin you will walk in the direction of the dunes (Kennemerduinen) and beach. At the Parnassia beach pavilion you can choose between two routes: along the beach to Zandvoort train station (15 km; 9.3 miles) or through the dunes to Overveen train station (16 km; 9.9 miles). If you choose the latter option, you’ll encounter a mix of woodlands, shrubs and dune grasses. You’ll also have to deal with steep climbs and descents. On top of the hill ‘De Hazenberg’ you’ll be treated to a lovely view. In Overveen you can visit the dune centre (closed on Mondays).
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Passable part of an inundation in the form of elevated terrain, a road, (railway) embankment or waterway.

Collective term for projectile weapons.

Also called bulwark. An outward-projecting pentagonal structure, suitable for delivering flanking fire.

A storage site for military equipment. The parks in the Defence Line are spread out over sectors (sector parks) and groups (group parks).

A battery that is positioned behind armour plates.

A fort with one or more armoured artillery positions.

A number of artillery pieces combined into one group.

Shielded position from which defenders can harass the enemy.

A (low) defensive structure that extends into the moat and can be used to give flanking fire.

A space that is protected against enemy fire and is outfitted with a gun port, behind which a piece of artillery is placed.

An army division whose tasks include, amongst other things, the construction of temporary and permanent defensive structures. The term ‘engineer’ is derived from the French word ‘ingenieur’.

Also called covert way. A pathway that is protected from enemy fire by an earthen wall and can be used for transporting soldiers and military equipment.

Also called stop-log sluice. A temporary dam that stops the inundation water when beams are stacked up in its recesses.

Water purification system that improves the quality of drinking water by extracting iron.

Earthen elevation surrounding a defensive structure, featuring a breastwork.

A (wooden) shed where artillery and military engineering equipment were stored.

The part of a terrain that can be fired at.

Long-range flanking fire: fire support for the secondary forts. Short-range flanking fire: fire that covers the surroundings of the defensive structure itself.

Known in Dutch as ‘Vestingwet’. The act of the 18th of April 1874 that stipulated which forts would become part of the Dutch national defence system.

The side of a defensive structure that is facing away from the enemy.

In the Defence Line forts this is a casemate giving short-range and long-range flanking fire.

Undercarriage for a cannon or other heavy firearm.

Shell that is filled with highly explosive material.

The flooding of land to keep the enemy at bay.

Also called inlet sluice. A sluice that is constructed with the aim of letting water into a certain area.

An independent system of connected defensive structures.

Artillery that gives frontal fire over large distances, directly aimed at enemy positions.

A simple (temporary) defensive structure manned by a small number of soldiers.

An underground connecting passageway that is shellproof.

Known in Dutch as ‘Kringenwet’. Act of January 1853 that stipulates restrictions with regard to the construction of buildings in the vicinity of defensive structures, the so-called forbidden zones (‘kringen’), in order to guarantee a free field of fire.

A chart that is installed next to the gun port to give the operators of the artillery insight into the distances of targets and the corresponding firing angles.

A place of last refuge for the defenders of a fort, which can be defended independently.

A turret that is lifted up to give fire and is retracted and thus made almost invisible once the firing has stopped.

Position that provides shelter to retreating troops.

Battery that is situated in close proximity to a fort and performs some of the tasks that have been assigned to that fort.

The ability of a building to withstand gunfire thanks to brickwork, concrete or a bottom layer.

A shellproof depot for storing artillery and other essential military equipment.

A fort’s courtyard.


A turnable armoured artillery position.