08 February 2018

A Sea-less Beach

Small and little-known (outside their national borders) deserts and semi-desert arid areas crop up in the world, not all of them in year-round tropical latitudes. For example Bulgaria's Stone Desert; Tabernas Desert near Almería, Spain; or the Kyzyl Kum, shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Certainly not all deserts are populated with camels and covered with sand.

Yet sand dunes are a geographic feature often associated with camel riding (at least in my mind) but also with great bodies of water, appearing on every continent. Dunes can be found on many coastlines around the world; the Great Lakes have them too!

Aside from my frivolous "beach" remark, De Haere Nature Reserve in the Netherlands is one of the unusual small inland pockets of sand; not to be confused with the manor house of the same name (an estate for visitors to tour, with related activities). The now-protected conservation area is north of Apeldoorn in the Veluwe hills, by the village of Nunspeet. I'm sure there is a scientific, historical explanation for this small and secluded anomaly. How did this sand mass appear in an unlikely place?

The last Ice Age left a pool of melt water between the retreating ice and the slope of the moraine it created. "During this period, sand over sand was deposited."[1] For centuries some grasses made it a suitable area for grazing animals but probably only two hundred years ago, agricultural drainage of remaining swamp water, over-grazing, and shifting sands completely dried it up. Low bushes, heather, and mosses can be seen in the periphery but little takes root in the moving sands that inexorably change shape to their own rhythm.

Unlike Holland's national parks featuring immense dunes by the sea, this miniature enclave is hidden within a scrubby pine forest planted in the modern era. The forest also houses a secret underground war-time hiding place. Now that is intriguing ... and deeply disturbing.

A great venue for a picnic or a trail ride if you have a horse. Here I am with not enough photographs after the fact, not enough for true appreciation of this little gem. Although walking through fine sand on a perfect sunny day is tiring ... or good exercise!

[1] Nunspeet Village, ""De Haere," http://www.nunspeetvillage.nl/groen/n020.html.

Photographs: CDM

© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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