Kayak Elfstedentocht
Part 1


Dag 1 Workum - Makkum 15 km
Dag 2 Makkum - Bolsward - Witmarsum 21 km
Dag 3 Witmarsum - Harlingen - Achlum - Franeker 29 km

Workum (1)

We start our Kayak Elfstedentocht in Workum. The night before we came to the camping outside Workum. Here we find ourselves surrounded by surfers, who completely ignore us. Perhaps they think kayaking is dull ? Well, surfing isn't that exciting either today (no wind).

Surfer at sunset

The lock

The next day the Elfstedentocht really begins. First, we have to go through a lock, which was something we've never done before. After passing through the lock, we think it's time for a coffee break in the centre of Workum.

Coffee break


Makkum isn't on the official route of the Elfstedentocht. That's because it hasn't city-rights and therefore it isn't a city. The eleven cities got around the year 1200 several rights, like the right to make people pay taxes. Still, Makkum is well worth a visit.


Makkumer earthenware

One thing Makkum is famous for, it the Makkumer earthenware. The Tichelaar factory is the oldest registered company in the Netherlands, dating from 1594. Check it out, they even have things we like.
Fishing boat

Industrial Makkum ?

Bolsward (2)

In Bolsward there are many interesting things to see, like a brewery, a distillery and two museums. Unless you're here on a public holiday. Then, everything will be closed. But you can still have a look at the beautiful buildings like the city hall and the canals.

Through the tunnel

Bolsward town hall

Town hall detail

Bolsward canals



In a Dutch magazine, the camping in the village Witmarsum was listed as one of the 14 best places to watch the WK soccer. Aaargh ... almost every tent and caravan here has been decorated with those silly orange flags. But there are also a lot of people who will do the Elfstedentocht by bike the next day.

Kwik, Kwek & Kwak

Harlingen (3)

In Harlingen it's almost impossible to get out of your kayak. All the canals have very high walls, like the one on the picture below. There a no nice low jetties anywhere.

Impossible to climb

This is better
Even outside of the inner city it's hard to get ashore. We were very lucky to find these steps, otherwise we would have to skip Harlingen. And that was a thing we didn't want to do: it was lunch time and we wanted something to eat. And of course we needed the stamp to prove we had been here.
An important asset of Harlingen is it's harbour area. You feel really small in your kayak, when you're surrounded by ships a lot bigger than yours.

Harbour area

On the Van Harinxmakanaal you feel very small too, especially when there's a very strong wind, causing huge waves.


The next stretch is completely different. The Achlumervaart is narrow and not very deep. No other boats here, just a few other kayaks. On the other hand, the road is very busy. Every other second, our motor cyclist passes by. Yes, today is Elfstedentocht for motor cycles too !

Franeker (4)

Near Franeker

The last city on our third day is Franeker. Franeker is a very beautiful city, again with a lot of beautiful buildings and several canals. For the Planetarium we will have to return some day: already closed when we arrive, and not open yet when we leave the next morning.

Franeker town hall

Art deco - or Deja vu ?

Bloemketerp Haven

Our camping has its own harbour, as they call the end of this water (with a jetty). We thought this jetty right next to the camping was very neat ... until we discovered the gate to the camping grounds was closed. #@%$@#&*$#@ !!!