Hello! Today, I’m going to tell you a story. A story about a lake that wasn’t always a lake, a path that leads nowhere, and a drowned village.
‘Show, don’t tell,’ isn’t that what aspiring writers are always taught? Well, I’ll do better than that – I’ll show AND tell. Look, this is where we start – a narrow brick path, with old reed-roofed cottages on one side…
… and a flower garden and more tiny cottages on the other.
One of the cottages is now a tearoom. Maybe we can have a cuppa there later.
This used to be the path to the village of Beulake, but now it leads nowhere. Well, not quite nowhere – it ends at the water’s edge and brings us to the boat I’ve rented especially for us today. Please hop in. To get to the lake we need to negotiate a narrow canal first.
And here we are, on the Beulakerwijde – the lake that wasn’t always a lake. We’re not the only ones enjoying a lovely day out on the water.
It’s hot and sunny today, with a gentle breeze. Very different from that fateful day in November 1776, when rain and wind lashed the countryside.
Extensive peat extraction had made the area around Beulake vulnerable and a year earlier a heavy storm had broken the sea dykes in several places, flooded the land and driven away most of the inhabitants of the village. This time the storm was even worse. Fearing for their lives, the remaining 50 villagers fled to the church. They experienced the worst 36 hours of their lives, but survived to tell the tale. The village was drowned, however, and the entire area became a lake – the lake we’re on today.
The church disappeared in another storm, fifty years later, and… But wait, what’s that there in the distance?
It looks like, no, it can’t be, yes it is a… church tower???
A church tower complete with a bell and clockwork!
Well, actually it’s an artwork approximately in the spot where the original church of Beulake was. The small, uninhabited island behind it is called Kerkhof (church yard). It’s not hard to guess why.
The photographs were taken here, and I’ve been wanting to tell you the story behind it for a long time, but somehow never got round to it.
There is also a red version with ruffles along the edge, but the watery blue version ends with a row of droplets.
Well, it’s time to head back, along the reedbeds and water lilies.
We’re lucky – the tearoom is still open. Do you have time to stay a little longer? What would you like? Coffee, fresh mint tea, an alcohol-free beer? And carrot cake, a brownie or a slice of Dutch apple pie to go with it?
Our boat trip started from Natuurmonumenten visitor centre De Wieden. (Natuurmonumenten is the nature conservation organisation that protects and manages the beautiful and vulnerable wetland area of today’s story.)