The Eel trail is a theme trail using the alternative points of the North Holland Hiking Network. It is a round trip past the old peat and cheese polder, Katwoude mostly over the unpaved High and Low Dike. It is 15 km long.
The trail is marked by wooden posts with red arrows. Dogs are not allowed.
The trail takes you past De Kathammer, an octagonal polder windmill from 1650 and the adjacent Heitje van Katham, a long strip of bog near Volendam. In Volendam and Monnickendam the trail runs past the harbour, where you can visit an eel smokehouse.
Description of particulars along the way.
These are listed in alphabetical order on the roadmap.
A. Grote Kerk
- The tower of the Grote Kerk (great church) measures an impressive 56 meter. The low Gothic hall church was built between 1400 and 1650.
B. Purmer Ee
- The wide stretch of water to the left is the Purmer Ee, for a long time an important sailing connection between Purmermeer and Zuiderzee. It combats the numerous floods this tidal inlet was closed off around 1401 when the Nieuwendam was built.
C. Low dike
- Here, you walk over the Low dike, which is traditionally lower than the High dike on the Markermeer. The flood danger from the Purmermeer was after all much less than from the Zuiderzee. On the other side of the ring canal you can see the reclamation De Purmer. The bottom of the lake, drained in 1622 is almost three metres lower than the Katwoude polder.
- In the hamlet of Zedde you pass the 17th century barge canal. The ancient waterway was created in 1663 and served as a shipping connection between Edam and Monnickendam.
E. Heitje van Katham
- Left of the road, parallel to the Hovensloot, there is a small, damp area. This is the Heitje van Katham, a small nature reserve. What is makes it unique is that four types of heather grow here: crow moor, heath, common and lavender heather.
- The Katwouder windmill takes care of the drainage of the western section of the Katwoude polder. The water is drained with an auger. The excess water is discharged into the Markermeer via a sluice in the dike.
- In Volendam you walk through Het Doolhof (Maze), an old neighbourhood with a tangle of narrow streets, canals, drawbridges and wooden houses. The Doolhof was created in the 19th century when the population of this fishing village grew in rapid tempo. The construction of new houses was largely unplanned and did not follow a street grid.
H. High dike
- From the High dike you have a stunning view of the Gouwzee, the former island of Marken and the harbour of Volendam. The dike was reinforced in 1916 after Waterland was hit by a major flood that put the entire Katwoude polder under water. The storm disaster gave rise to the construction of the Barrier Dam (1932).
The dikes are managed in an environmentally-friendly way, for example by extensive sheep grazing. This gives rare plants an opportunity to grow.
The Eel trail starts and finishes at Starting Point 7 in Monnickendam and runs via the alternative points 30, 38, 25, 24, starting point 8, alternative point 25, 28, 79, 39, 27, 29 and 31.
There is sufficient parking at the starting point in Monnickendam.