The Windmill Trail is a bike tour that takes you over old sea beds. Yes, that’s right, because in the seventeenth century two old inland seas were drained and turned into flat, fertile agricultural land. Remnants of that time still stand unchanged on the landscape: the polder mills. During the reclamation, the water was pumped out of the polder and moved it to a higher level on the ringvaart (ring canal). If you want to see how that was done, then stop at junction 27, at the Museum windmill in Schermerhorn.
During this trip you will begin to realize just what an amazing accomplishment this was for Dutch engineers, led by hydraulic engineer Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater, four hundred years ago. And even though you can’t see the seas any more, there are several indications that they were once here, such as the dykes that were built around the former Schermer island in the twelfth century. Nowadays they form a beautiful dividing line between the old land with its winding streams and historical villages and the sharp geometric new land on the other side.
During this trip you also see two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Beemster polder and the Stelling van Amsterdam (Defense Line of Amsterdam) as you pass no less than three forts. In the village of Graft-De Rijp there are still plenty of reminders of the old fishing era, when adventurous herring fishermen and whalers sailed through the Beemstermeer towards the Zuiderzee and the high seas.