Nature - Areas


The Meijendel Dunes are among the most important coastal areas of the Netherlands, with a primarily open dune landscape with brushwood. The larger dune valleys also support woodlands, e.g. the valleys of Meijendel, Bierlap and Kijfhoek. More than a million people visit the area each year. Vincent van Gogh has lived here in 1882-'83. The most important functions of the area are: nature protection, collection of drinking water, coastal defence and recreation.

Location: Den Haag - Wassenaar.

Size: ca. 2000 ha (6 km long, ca. 3 km broad).

Owner and management: NV Duinwaterbedrijf Zuid-Holland (DZH). Staatsbosbeheer manages the Ganzenhoek area in the north-west.

Actuality: The Management Plan 2000-2009 is based upon the importance of the area for nature. The DZN is now carrying out various works to decrease the negative impact of drinking water production.

History & culture

About 7000 years ago the first barrier dunes developed with on top of them the Older Dunes. Remnants of theses dunes can still be found as the Haagse Bos (Den Haag) and De Horsten (Wassenaar). Since 1000 AD the Younger Dunes developed, partially on top of the Older Dunes. In those days, the area was a hunting ground for the nobility, who tried in vain to deny the local poachers their rabbits.

The name Meijendel originates from the abundance of Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) in the central valley. However, many of the hawthorn woodlands have only been able to develop after the period of agricultural exploitation in the 19th century.

In 1874 the dune water company of Den Haag (DWL, now the DZH) started to collect drinking water in the dunes. Around 1900 more water was being collected than the net rainfall, which caused the dune valleys to dry up and the flora and fauna impoverished. In 1955, in order to ensure the drinking water supply, the DWL started to infiltrate river water from the Lek (and later the Meuse) in the dune valleys and in artificial lakes and canals. In this way they collected what they pumped in. The drinking water collection has had quite some impacts, but it has protected the area from large scale building of houses and roads.

The cattle grazing that had been banned around 1900 to control the increasing sand mobility, was reintroduced in the 1990's by the DZH in an attempt to create some more openness in the dense grass fields. Since then, Norwegian horses and Galloway cattle are grazing within a restricted area around the valleys of Kijfhoek-Bierlap.More information can be found on the page Younger Dunes and in the pages about Meijendel in the Coastal Guide on Dune Management.

Remnants of human use: Especially in Meijendel Valley many remnants can be found of the period of agricultural exploitation: the farm Meijendel, various flattened valleys surrounded by sand walls and ditches with alder trees and other planted trees. The water tower of Scheveningen is a monumental remnant of the earliest water collection. Finally there are scattered pine forests, which are remainders of the large plantations from the first decades of the 20th century.

Nature and Landscape

Meijendel has developed as part of the Younger Dunes. Luckily, it has kept its open link with the sea. On the beach there is a limited development of small beach dunes, which may always disappear with the next big storm.

The dune landscape consists of stabilised "parabolic" dunes (which develop from large blow-outs) in the west, large valley complexes in the centre and the remnants of old mobile dunes in the east. Due to the many ground works much of the original landscape has disappeared, but in the north the dunes are still relatively intact.

At the western side the dunes mainly support grassland and low brushwood; woodland appears further inland, especially in the sheltered valleys. Around the old agricultural fields many tree species can be found, many of which are not native.

Botanical Garden

Near the Visitors centre in Meijendel valley there is a botanical garden with many typical dune species.

Flora & Fauna

Flora and fauna are exceptionally rich due to local differences in moisture, humus and calcareous of the originally poor soil. Over 250 bird species occur and more than 100 of them breed in Meijendel. There also many rabbits, mice, shrews, voles, bats and also roedeer, foxes, weasels and in moist areas also toads and frogs. The Sand lizard is quite rare. In moist areas many water insects may be found and in dry areas various species of butterfly, ants, beetles and bees.

Nature centre: in the heart of Meijendel valley, near the farm: Meijendelseweg 40, Wassenaar, tel: 070 5117276.

Visitor Info

Accessibility: Meijendel valley and the surrounding areas to the south-west and south-east are freely accessible on paths. For hiking in the area Kijfhoek-Bierlap-Meeuwenhoek a DZH Jaarkaart (access pass for one year) is required. Part of the area is only open for research.

Hiking: Meijendel valley has various hiking paths including three main routes marked with yellow, blue and red poles. The route from the former farm to Meijendelse Slag is yellow. The blue path leads through the valley and the route through the forest and the inner dune edge is red (see map).

Biking: There are various public cycle paths through the area (see map).Excursions: The DZH regularly organises excursions guided by a ranger;

Dogs: allowed in Meijendel valley if they are on a leash.Horses: Bridle paths, for a large part along the cycle paths, are connected to the beach.

Other facilities: There are three catering establishments, namely next to the former farm in Meijendel valley, and near the access roads Wassenaarse Slag, Meijendelseweg (both Wassenaar) and Pompstationweg (Scheveningen).


Bicycle: unless you like long walks, the best type of transportation in Meijendel is the bicycle. Rent a bike at Den Haag CS (or HS).

Public transportation

Voorschoten-Vlietwijk: bus 568 to bus stop Duinrell (turning point), then bus 468 to Wassenaarseslag (half hour service from 3 June - 2 Sept. only)

Den Haag CS: bus 90 to Haarlem to bus stop Rijksdorp, then bus 468 to Wassenaarse Slag; 12 min. walk from Rijksdorp, (bus 468 only has a half hour service from 3 June - 2 Sept)

Den Haag CS: bus 29 to bus stop Oude Waalsdorperweg

Train station Laan van NOI: bus 23 to bus stop van Alkemadelaan, in front of entrance Pompstationsweg (Scheveningen).

Den Haag CS: bus 22 to bus stop Pompstationsweg-Doorniksestraat in front of entrance Pompstationsweg (Scheveningen); or bus 43 and 91 in front of the entrance Wassenaar-Auberge de Kievit - Meijendelseweg (Wassenaar).

Car: There are parking lots at Zwarte Pad (Scheveningen), along the road Meijendelseweg from Wassenaar-De Kievit (De Kuil, 150 parking places) and near Meijendel farm (200 parking places).


NV Duinwaterbedrijf Zuid-Holland (DZH), Stationsplein 4, 2270 AA Voorburg, tel. 070 3577500, fax 070 3871894.DZH Visitor centre, Meijendelseweg 40, 2243 GN Wassenaar, tel. 070 5117276.

Requests for DZH Jaarkaart (walking pass): Zuid-Hollands Landschap, tel: 010 2722222.

DZH Management section: Ms. G.M. Leltz, Cantineweg 19A, 2224 XP Katwijk, tel. 071 4060606, fax 071 4076717.