The beach areas of Den Haag (The Hague) are home to some pretty interesting dune areas. In between the two main tourist beaches of Kijkduin and Scheveningen, you can have some pretty nice walks along the paths to explore the unique landscape of the beach dunes. The vegetation that is "native" to this area needs to adapt to the low fertility of the soil and the saltiness of the sea water, which does tend to give it a certain look and feel.
It isn't really the preferred landscape for myself, but my wife does quite like the beach... and it appears that she has infected the children with the enjoyment of the watery desert. Personally, I would prefer a forest or a mountain...
Once per year, there is a large charity walk (Duinenmars) with planned walks of varying lengths ranging from child friendly 5 kilometre walks through to the hardcore 40+ kilometre walks (for the Americans, a kilometre is roughly the average distance for a toddler to start whining about being carried the rest of the distance!).
We opted for the slightly less short 10 kilometre version (wow, this was almost two years ago) which was a decent distance for the older girl and the little one could ride in the backpack for most of the way. We were just going to go slowly and take our time, so we had one baby backpack, and a second smaller day pack with water, lunch and snacks.
Of course, at the start of the walk... everyone is in great spirits, and the plan is to dance the entire trip! Thankfully, although the morale would ebb and flow through the day, it didn't drop too much... and anytime morale started to dip too badly... there was always chocolate!
The range of walking paths (there is a map that is handed out by the organisation) with some starting quite a long way inland before ending up near the dunes. This means that you have a nice variety of sections from the beach and the sandy surrounds through to areas that were starting to be a little bit more wooded.
Although the paths are clearly marked and fenced, and you aren't supposed to just wander out into the dune areas, this didn't stop people from just stomping through the protected areas. Of course, this is infuriating to an Australian who is quite aware that you aren't supposed to just stomp through areas just to get a good selfie before destroying more of the habitat to get back to the path. That said, people tend not to do it in Australia as there is much much more risk of getting bitten by something poisonous if you are that inconsiderate to nature!
Again, there is the iconic trees from old Dutch paintings... in the winter, and stripped of vegetation. The idea that trees lose their leaves in winter is still a bit a curious sight... as it isn't quite so drastic in Australia!
Stick to the paths... it should be clear which is the right side to be on!
So, I never really understood the fascination with the dune habitat. To me, it looks like a featureless and lifeless desert... situated near water that you can't drink. However, if you zoom in and know where to look, there is often quite an interesting ecosystem and animal life as well.... probably scorpions....
Okay... I lied! I find that the patterns that are made by the wind in the sand are just amazing to behold! At times, if they are undisturbed, they make the most interesting structures... only to be swept away and rebuilt anew with each day!