Zwerven op de schaats door Holland

Zwerven op de schaats door Holland

This post continues the backlog of skating books books I have to write about. This one is in Dutch, and the title means “roaming on skates through Holland.” It’s a small book—only 96 pages and about 5″x7″—published by Van Gorgum in 1942.

The book includes short chapters on the organization of skating in the Netherlands, winter in Holland, a failed electoral meeting that led to ice roads, birds in winter, winter in history, medals and prizes for tour skates, a wedding on the ice, training and technique, and what tour skaters need to know. The bulk of the book describes skating routes through Holland

The chapter on historical winters references Samuel Jackson Pratt’s description of his winter visit to Rotterdam in 1774. This has not made it into the English-language literature on skating! Apparently, he remarked that “the most dead season in other lands is the most living in Holland” (28). I dug up the original:

It has been justly remarked, that the deadest season in other countries is the most lively in Holland. While this little watry world is frost-locked, which it is sometimes for three months together, it is a kind of universal fair or jubilee. Booths are erected upon the ice, with good fires in them. Horses, rough-shod to the element, run races. Coaches glide over the smooth expanse, like pleasure barges. Men, women, and children, are equally expert. The peasant scates to town with his panniers, the country girl with her milk pails, and many merchants take their longest journies during the season of the ice. You may some|times see a string of twenty or thirty young people, of both sexes, holding each other by the handkerchief, and shoot away almost with the rapidity of lightning.

Pratt 1795, 253–254

The most useful part of the book is the skating routes. The book includes written descriptions of all of them, plus there’s a map at the end that summarizes them all. Someone has colored them in with blue pencil and pen in my copy of the book.

The map from pages 88–89, with coloring.

You can read Zwerven op de schaats door Holland online at the University of Connecticut. It’s one of a series of similar books. There’s also Zwerven op de schaats door Friesland and several books that are simply Zwerven without “op de schaats”—presumably not necessarily about skating.


Samuel Jackson Pratt. Gleanings through Wales, Holland and Westphalia. Volume 2. London: Longman and Seeley, 1795.

K. Sikkema, ed. Zwerven op de schaats door Holland. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1943.