On this cold but beautifully sunny day we visited the closest national park to our home: Nationaal Park Zuid Kennemerland. The 3800 hectares (~ 1500 acres) park was opened in 1995 and is one of 20 National Parks in the Netherlands. The park runs for 7 to 8 km along the North Sea coast and consists of dunes, beach, forest and historical estates.
The park has over a dozen different entrances. We first stopped at the Koningshof entrance, where we did a 3½ km trail (one of three at this trailhead) through the surprisingly hilly woods of this historical estate. Shetland ponies and (since this month) a group of Scottish Highland cows are grazing free through the grounds. We even saw some squirrels. Here are some pictures:
We had a stop at the very nice Duincentrum De Zandwaaier visitor center, where we had a small snack (note: the food is overpriced and not very good here) and a look around the exhibits. They had a lot of information about the flora and fauna of the park, including some great display cases of birds and animals in the basement.
Our third stop was at the Elswout entrance, another historic estate with a beautiful mansion in the middle that was being restored. We did the 2½ km trail here, which was again very well marked (there is also a 4 km route). It is a very idyllic estate, with lots of water, small gazebos, mossy hills and cute white bridges. There were fenced-in areas with deer and sheep.