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Almost a third of Texel consists of nature reserves. In the centre of the island there are two such nature reserves that tell a fascinating story about the origins of the island. The Hoge Berg is the oldest part of Texel and dates back to prehistoric times. Polder Waalenburg is one of the oldest nature reserves of Natuurmonumenten (the society for the Preservation of Nature in the Netherlands). Walking or cycling on the Hoge Berg or in Waalenburg is even more enjoyable if you know something about their backgrounds.
The Hoge Berg is a boulder clay mound from the Ice Age, 15.3 metres above sea level. During the Ice Age, the glaciers from the north carried a substantial mixture of bolders, gravel and clay, which was pushed up into mounds by the ice. The old villages of Den Hoorn, Den Burg, De Waal and Oosterend are located on such high grounds. The entire region is called the 'Old Land' of Texel. There you can still see the typical Texel garden walls (tuinwallen) and sheep stables (schapenboeten). Particularly in the Hoge Berg region, between Den Burg and Oudeschild, a great many still remain.
The Texel farmers used to make garden walls out of turf to separate plots of land, as it made no sense to dig ditches in the rolling countryside and wood was scarce on the island. Sheep stables (schapenboeten) are asymmetrical barns. They have practically all been erected with the rear facing south-west, the prevailing wind direction, and provide shelter to the many sheep in the meadows. The Hoge Berg region has been designated a nature reserve in order to preserve this attractive cultural-historical landscape, which can't be found anywhere else.
On top of the Hoge Berg is an oak wood, the Doolhof. It was planted in the 18th century. These days it is a much-loved picnic destination and area for children to play. On a steep slope of the Hoge Berg there is the insect reserve De Zandkuil, home to unusual digger bees and wasps. The Zandkuil can be seen clearly from the road. There is an information board on the insect reserve here.
You can find the most pleasant walking and cycling routes across the Hoge Berg in the booklet Eilandroutes.
You will also find information-packed boards by the access to the Waalenburg polder on the Zaandammerdijk. The Waalenburg polder, between De Waal and Den Burg, date back to the 17th century. This was originally a salt marsh; you can still see the old creeks. Because the polder is low-lying, the meadow is very wet and in some places the water is brackish. This provides the ideal environment for some extraordinary flowers, including many orchids and salt marsh plants that are resistant to salt water. Large numbers of meadow birds use Waalenburg as a breeding ground. In winter this marshland area easily freezes over making it possible to skate there.