River and basins
Groningen has 900 kilometres of waterways. From the Reitdiep to Damsterdiep, from the Wadden Sea to the banks of what used to be the Fivel. On the coast of Groningen, you will therefore find numerous harbours. Some are still fishing ports, others are the starting point for Mud Flat walks or marinas. Ask Groningers where the best place on earth is and many will answer the Noordpolderzijl. This harbour is on the outermost point of the mainland and is thus the ideal spot to enjoy some fresh air and a great starting point for a mud flat walk.
The Damsterdiep area is a wonderful, varied area. The presence of terps, basins, dykes and lakes makes this an open yet undulating landscape. The Damsterdiep has a long history. As a way to improve the water management of the low-lying area between the current Ten Post and Delfzijl, in the early eleventh century a start was made on creating a canal with an open connection with the Eems at Farmsum. This canal was called the Delf.
Near the terp of Appingen proved a favourable location for traders who used an extensive network of canals and roads to transport and trade their goods. This trade settlement expanded right up to the town of Appingedam. The construction of three locks near Farmsum at the start of the fourteenth century blocked access to Appingedam for bigger sea-going ships. Delfzijl gradually took over this port function.
In order to improve checks on trade in north-eastern Groningen, the municipal executive of the city of Groningen ordered a narrow ditch to be dug between the City and Dijkshorn (the Lustige Maar). In 1424, a connection was thus achieved between the Delf and the city of Groningen. The canal was renamed the Damsterdiep and gave the City a connection by water with the open sea via Delfzijl. On the north side of the Damsterdiep, a towpath was constructed. This towpath was later paved and given the name Rijksweg.