Centrally located in the Land of Leeghwater is the Eilandspolder. This was once a peat island in the middle of large lakes and was called Schermer Island. Other small islands in the area were Markenbinnen, Oterleek, De Mijzen en De Matten. The farmers on these wet lands lived under difficult circumstances. The inhabitants of Schermer Island did, however, manage to turn these problems into good fortune. They made a living through fishing and small-scale cargo shipping. They also made a name for themselves as whalers. In the middle of the Dutch Golden Age, the 17th century, De Rijp was one of the most prosperous villages of the northern part of Holland.
The wet agricultural lands are still used as meadows and pastures and are now a unique natural landscape, home to water and meadow birds. Today the Eilandspolder and the polder De Mijzen are protected nature reserves.
More information on Schermer Island is available in Museum In ít Houten Huis. The Herring and Hemp route takes you to a number of the former islandís historic sites. Landschap Noord-Holland (The Landscape Organisation of the province of Noord-Holland) and Staatsbosbeheer (Dutch Forestry Organisation) regularly hold excursions that feature the special natural value of the former island.