Hunzebos and Leewal - hotspots

Het ijstijdenlandschap van Hunzebos en Leewal (Exloo)

The area around Exloo is rich in glacial remains. In the last ice age the land ice did not reach as far as the Netherlands. Even so the temperature hardly rose above zero, even at the height of summer. Only a thin surface layer thawed, the rest of the ground remained frozen. This caused unusual geological phenomena and you can see fine examples in the Hunzebos woods near Exloo. Geologists call these ‘dry valleys’.

Sloping landscape from the ridge towards the dry valley

The Leewal

Southwest of Exloo you can find the Leewal, an enigmatic ridge curving through the landscape. Originally interpreted as a ridge of wind-blown sand, it is now interpreted as a possible esker. Eskers originated towards the end of the Saale ice age when the ice cap was starting to melt. The meltwater carved tunnels in the ice which filled up with sand and gravel. Once the ice had melted, the sand and gravel was left behind as a ridge in the landscape. The marked hiking route takes you by the Leewal.

Sand and gravel in a meltwater tunnel in the ice

Dry valleys from the last Ice-age

In the summer the snow melted and the topmost layer of earth began to thaw. The meltwater flushed the thawed earth downwards from the eastern slopes of the Hondsrug. Year in, year out the process repeated itself. The valleys became wider and deeper. After the ice age the frost vanished from the ground, the rainwater in the earth subsided and the valleys dried up. Hence the name ‘dry valley’.

Artwork ‘Mental map’ at the edge of the forest

Location data

Coordinates: 52°52’08.4″N 6°52’24.5″E

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Hunzebos and Leewal