Lenten

2 hours 30 minutes (42.0 km)
Managed by: Recreatieschap Drenthe

Use Zuidlaren, with its centuries-old village squares, as the starting point of your cycle route. On De Hondsrug, you will encounter old esdorp villages and forests, before making your way to the swampy brook valley of the Hunze.

The Hondsrug and Hunze valley guarantee hours of cycling fun through an ancient landscape. People lived and left their mark here thousands of years ago. Discover the burial mounds, ancient dirt roads and mediaeval village squares.

In Zuidlaren, an old esdorp located on De Hondsrug, you will meet the fictional figure Berend Botje. De Hondsrug is a ridge that was created in the penultimate ice age, when the shifting masses of ice shaped this straight line from Groningen to Coevorden. In September 2013, UNESCO officially named the Hondsrug area a European Geopark, making it the first UNESCO Global Geopark in the country.

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Use Zuidlaren, with its centuries-old village squares, as the starting point of your cycle route. On De Hondsrug, you will encounter old esdorp villages and forests, before making your way to the swampy brook valley of the Hunze.

The Hondsrug and Hunze valley guarantee hours of cycling fun through an ancient landscape. People lived and left their mark here thousands of years ago. Discover the burial mounds, ancient dirt roads and mediaeval village squares.

In Zuidlaren, an old esdorp located on De Hondsrug, you will meet the fictional figure Berend Botje. De Hondsrug is a ridge that was created in the penultimate ice age, when the shifting masses of ice shaped this straight line from Groningen to Coevorden. In September 2013, UNESCO officially named the Hondsrug area a European Geopark, making it the first UNESCO Global Geopark in the country.

Sit back and enjoy a drink on a patio on this high sand ridge dotted with esdorp villages and revel in gorgeous views over the Hunze Valley. As you cycle through the valley, you will make your way through peat colonies, ribbon villages and marshy brook valleys. You might just spot a beaver in the meandering Hunze. Lenten, which give this trail its name, were reinforced loading and unloading areas for peat and hay, of which remnants have been found near the Hunze.

The trail starts at the Stationsweg in Zuidlaren, where there is free parking. However, you can also use the signs to start the trail elsewhere.

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Sights on this route

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Brink O.Z. 2
9471 AE Zuidlaren

Kerkbrink 4 a
9471 AK Zuidlaren

Kerkbrink 3
Zuidlaren

Het Laarwoud 1
9471 AV Zuidlaren
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Groningerstraat 10
9471 AR Zuidlaren

Dolmen D3 and D4

9475 Midlaren
64 55

9475 Midlaren

Havenstraat 36
9471 AM Zuidlaren
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Hunzeweg 4
De Groeve
53 52 11 30

Veenweg 3
9656 PD Spijkerboor

Hunzeweg 30
9657 PD Nieuw Annerveen
31 32

Krommedijk
9464 TK Eexterzandvoort

Zandvoorterweg
9658 PN Eexterveen
47 59

Provincialeweg
9643 ZA Eext
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Gieterstraat 20
9463 PX Eext
27 90

Dolmen D9

9468 Annen
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9467 Anloo

9467 Anloo
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E 37
9471 KA Zuidlaren

Zuiderstraat 1
9471 KJ Zuidlaren

Stationsweg 17
9471 GJ Zuidlaren
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Directions

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  • Zuidlaren is a village that is first mentioned in 1160, featuring a wreath of ten centuries-old village squares, some of which are still home to ancient oak trees. The trail starts on a verdant square, where the Zuidlaardermarkt has been held on the third Tuesday of October for over 800 years. Boasting Europe’s largest horse market, a large fair and a 4-kilometre general market, a visit to this market promises to be an unforgettable experience. Zuidlaren also has a 13th-century church and large country houses, of which Laarwoud manor is the best known. This building dates from the early 17th century and is now privately owned. De Wachter mill museum is also worth a visit. Its steam engines still work and it is home to a forge, a traditional bakery, a clog factory and a museum shop.
  • Zuidlaren is located on the Hondsrug, a special geological area that was shaped by large glaciers in the penultimate ice age when shifting masses of ice shaped this straight line from Groningen to Coevorden. In September 2013, UNESCO officially named the Hondsrug area a European Geopark, making it the first UNESCO Global Geopark in the country.
  • From Zuidlaren, you pass through Midlaren and cycle past the Zuidlaardermeer, a 540-hectare lake used primarily for recreation. This is a natural lake, of which a quarter lies in Drenthe and three quarters lie in Groningen.
  • You will now cycle into the valley of the river Hunze. Since 2008, the Groningen Landscape Foundation and the Drenthe Landscape Foundation have introduced beavers along the Hunze and the Zuidlaardermeer, with several beaver families now living in the area.
  • The village of De Groeve marks the spot where the Hunze flows into the Zuidlaardermeer. De Groeve owes its name to the Dutch word for digging (graven), in reference to the Havenkanaal, which was dug just outside the village and flows into the river. This canal connects the lake with the village of Zuidlaren.
  • The cycle trail continues through an area famed for its vastness and expansiveness, despite the fact that it is enclosed between the Hondsrug and river dunes. The Hunze valley is full of meandering streams. The exploitation of this marshy bog landscape began in the 18th century, when, after centuries upon centuries, the remnants of dead plants had formed a thick layer of peat. After being extracted and dried, the peat could be used as fuel. The arrival of the peat industry in the area saw the creation of new residential neighbourhoods,
  • and many of the names of the villages located in sandy areas are also found here. Zuidlaardenveen, for instance, is a typical peat village and a great example of a ribbon development, due to its elongated layout.
  • After Zuidlaarderveen, you briefly cross the border of Groningen and Drenthe, known here as the Semslinie. This section of the border was the subject of a brief border war between Groningen and Drenthe, until Frisian surveyor Johan Sems drew the border to resolve the conflict in 1615.
  • In Spijkerboor, it is time to take a brief break from your bike. This village owes its name to the winding course of the river Hunze, which flows along the river and takes the shape of an old-fashioned hand brace drill. Can you spot a beaver?
  • Get back on your bike and continue along the trail to Gieten. Enjoy the view of the meadows, as the peat colonies alternate with marshy brook valleys. When you reach the outskirts of the Anner Groenlanden, you will come across some striking mounds - river dunes formed by drifted sand.
  • The Zwanemeerbos, a forest to the north of Gieten, still bears the marks of centuries of habitation, as this area of great natural beauty contains some forty Iron Age burial mounds. The dirt road that bisects the forest from north to south was originally the old medieval road connecting Groningen to Coevorden. Note the unusual shape the oaks in this forest. Because sheep would constantly nibble on twigs, the oaks here simply could not grow, resulting in shrub-like oak bushes, known as the strubben.
  • Continue cycling through the Anloo protected forest a little longer to reach Annen, an esdorp village that is home to the largest grass-covered village square in Europe, as well as dolmen D9, which is surrounded by buildings. This small, incomplete burial chamber dates from the Neolithic era.
  • Zuidlaren will now gradually come back in sight, and all there is left is to meet the real (statue of) Berend Botje. Known from a 19th-century Dutch children’s song, this figure was presumably intended to warn children against the dangers of idleness. High time for a bite! Settle down in one of Zuidlaren’s cosy eateries or patio bars.
  • or have a look next to the museum for the ‘Tin-Art’ foundry. Marvel at the changing collection of one-off pieces, as well as a large range of tin jewellery and objects.
  • It’s time to hit the pedals once more and enjoy the beautiful rural areas to the south and north of Zuidwolde. There’s still quite some cycling to be done before you reach the starting point of the trail, as you pass the former sand mining town of Nijstad on your right-hand side. All you have to do now is cross the Hoogeveensche Vaart and you’ll be back in Echten.
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