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Cycling route past birds and forts Wormer-Jisperveld

This cycling route takes you along a beautiful peatland area where birds such as the godwit and the redshank breed. The route also runs along Fort Spijkerboor. This is the largest ad the most modern fort of the Amsterdam Defence Line. In the visitor center the Poelboerderij you can get extensive information about the Wormer- and Jisperveld. 

Birds and Forts route

The Wormer- and Jisperveld are among the richest meadow bird areas in Europe. Especially the Schaalsmeerpolder is known for the large number of black-tailed godwits, curlews and oystercatchers that breed here. The 44km cycling route also passes a number of forts. The route.

Fort bij Spijkerboor publiek buiten door Kenneth Stamp
Fort bij Spijkerboor © Evert Barendrecht

Fort Spijkerboor

Fort Spijkerboor is the largest and most modern fort of the Defence Line of Amsterdam: the defence structure surrounding the capital. Flooding of the land (inundation) was used as the main weapon to stop the enemy. A ring of forts behind the inundationzone would prevent enemy troops from gettin to higher ground. 
The junction of canals and dykes near Spijkerboor was clearly a weak spot in the defence line. Hence, an extra strong and large fort was built with two floors and an armored rotary dome with guns. If you want to know what the fort looks like on the inside and how it was used during times of war and peace, you can try one of the special excursions. Visit the website of Natuurmonumenten for more information about the activities.

Spijkerboor Aerophoto

Fort aan de Jisperweg / Fort aan de Middenweg

Cycling along the dike you will pass some bushes that stand out in the middle of the open, tightly parceled land of the Beemster. It is the willow, poplar and hawthorn clad ramparts of Fort aan de Jisperweg and Fort aan de Middenweg. Two small forts of the Amsterdam Defence Line that Natuurmonumenten manages as a nature reserve. The Fort aan de Jisperweg is opened once every five years for the public, the other fort is rented and therefore inacccessible. 

Meadow birds

Meadow birds are birds that breed in the pasture or forage for food during the breeding season. Known species are lapwing, godwit, redshank, ruff, snipe, oystercatcher, garganey and avocet. All of these species, and more, live in the Wormer- and Jisperveld. The wide variety of birds is due to the sophisticated management of the Natuurmonumenten which they have pursues for decades. The soil is kept wet by little Zaanse meadow mills which lets extra water in when necessary. In the wet soft soil birds find worms, larvae and insects. To stimulate the liveliness of the soil, every spring manure with straw is being put on the land. Together with grazing by a limited amount of cattle, this creates a swamy, wobbly grasland where the meadow birds can manage well. 

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Passable part of an inundation in the form of elevated terrain, a road, (railway) embankment or waterway.

Collective term for projectile weapons.

Also called bulwark. An outward-projecting pentagonal structure, suitable for delivering flanking fire.

A storage site for military equipment. The parks in the Defence Line are spread out over sectors (sector parks) and groups (group parks).

A battery that is positioned behind armour plates.

A fort with one or more armoured artillery positions.

A number of artillery pieces combined into one group.

Shielded position from which defenders can harass the enemy.

A (low) defensive structure that extends into the moat and can be used to give flanking fire.

A space that is protected against enemy fire and is outfitted with a gun port, behind which a piece of artillery is placed.

An army division whose tasks include, amongst other things, the construction of temporary and permanent defensive structures. The term ‘engineer’ is derived from the French word ‘ingenieur’.

Also called covert way. A pathway that is protected from enemy fire by an earthen wall and can be used for transporting soldiers and military equipment.

Also called stop-log sluice. A temporary dam that stops the inundation water when beams are stacked up in its recesses.

Water purification system that improves the quality of drinking water by extracting iron.

Earthen elevation surrounding a defensive structure, featuring a breastwork.

A (wooden) shed where artillery and military engineering equipment were stored.

The part of a terrain that can be fired at.

Long-range flanking fire: fire support for the secondary forts. Short-range flanking fire: fire that covers the surroundings of the defensive structure itself.

Known in Dutch as ‘Vestingwet’. The act of the 18th of April 1874 that stipulated which forts would become part of the Dutch national defence system.

The side of a defensive structure that is facing away from the enemy.

In the Defence Line forts this is a casemate giving short-range and long-range flanking fire.

Undercarriage for a cannon or other heavy firearm.

Shell that is filled with highly explosive material.

The flooding of land to keep the enemy at bay.

Also called inlet sluice. A sluice that is constructed with the aim of letting water into a certain area.

An independent system of connected defensive structures.

Artillery that gives frontal fire over large distances, directly aimed at enemy positions.

A simple (temporary) defensive structure manned by a small number of soldiers.

An underground connecting passageway that is shellproof.

Known in Dutch as ‘Kringenwet’. Act of January 1853 that stipulates restrictions with regard to the construction of buildings in the vicinity of defensive structures, the so-called forbidden zones (‘kringen’), in order to guarantee a free field of fire.

A chart that is installed next to the gun port to give the operators of the artillery insight into the distances of targets and the corresponding firing angles.

A place of last refuge for the defenders of a fort, which can be defended independently.

A turret that is lifted up to give fire and is retracted and thus made almost invisible once the firing has stopped.

Position that provides shelter to retreating troops.

Battery that is situated in close proximity to a fort and performs some of the tasks that have been assigned to that fort.

The ability of a building to withstand gunfire thanks to brickwork, concrete or a bottom layer.

A shellproof depot for storing artillery and other essential military equipment.

A fort’s courtyard.


A turnable armoured artillery position.