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Veenwolds

2 hour 9 minutes (43.0 km)
Managed by: Recreatieschap Drenthe

Cycle through alternating forests, heathlands and fields. The Veenwolds cycling trail crosses the provincial borders of Drenthe and Friesland. You will cycle through the forests of Appelscha, the fields of Oosterwolde and Fochteloo and past the Fochtelooërveen heathlands.

The 42-kilometre ‘Veenwolds’ cycling trail will take you past several remarkable Dutch nature reserves, such as the Fochterlooërveen and the Aekingerzand, constantly crossing from Drenthe to Friesland and back.

The trail starts at the Boerestreek in Applescha, a village that was once…

Cycle through alternating forests, heathlands and fields. The Veenwolds cycling trail crosses the provincial borders of Drenthe and Friesland. You will cycle through the forests of Appelscha, the fields of Oosterwolde and Fochteloo and past the Fochtelooërveen heathlands.

The 42-kilometre ‘Veenwolds’ cycling trail will take you past several remarkable Dutch nature reserves, such as the Fochterlooërveen and the Aekingerzand, constantly crossing from Drenthe to Friesland and back.

The trail starts at the Boerestreek in Applescha, a village that was once part of the county of Drenthe. With the arrival of thousands of Frisian peat workers in the 19th century, the village saw major growth and officially adopted the Frisian language. From Appelscha, you pedal your way into the Drens-Friese Wold National Park, the second largest swathe of forest and heathland in the Netherlands, after the Veluwe. In the Drents-Friese Wold, you may just come across a shepherd with his flock of Drenthe heath sheep and Schoonebeeker sheep.

The Aekingerzand is located in the Appelscha protected forest and is the largest active sand drift in the north of the Netherlands. Enjoy stunning views from the watchtower.

You will continue your tour through the countryside of Oosterwolde towards Fochteloo and the spectacular Fochtelooërveen nature reserve. The Fochtelooërveen is home to several remarkable species of birds, such as the curlew, black-tailed godwit and crane. Enjoying the nature of the Fochtelooërveen, you will make your way make to Appelscha.

The cycle trail starts at the car park on the Boerestreek in Appelscha, at Boerestreek 23, 8426 BT Appelscha (Node 91). There is ample free parking here. However, you can also use the signs to start the trail elsewhere.

This trail passes the following cycling nodes: 91, 63, 61, 62, 23, 82, 88, 85, 83, 79, 52, 58, 62, 64, 66, 75, 90 and 91. The trail can be shortened at cycling nodes 91, 61 and 79.

Sights on this route

91

Boerestreek 23
8426 BN Appelscha

Bosberg 2
8426 GJ Appelscha
63 61 62

Huenderweg 1
8386 XB Doldersum

Appelschaseweg 4
8438 SJ Wateren

Huenderweg 1
8386 XB Doldersum

Huenderweg 1
8386 XB Doldersum
82

8426 Appelscha
88 85

Terwisscha 6 a
8426SJ Appelscha

Terwisscha 6 a
8426 SJ Appelscha
83

De Maden 8
8426 AB Appelscha
79 93 52

Brink 26
8431 LD Oosterwolde

Prinsenstraat 5
8431 LA Oosterwolde

Zuideinde 9
8428 HC Fochteloo
58 62

8428 RR Fochteloo
64

8427 Ravenswoud
66 75

Compagnonsweg 6
8427 RJ Ravenswoud
90

Klimbos Appelscha
Boerestreek 8
8426 BP Appelscha
91

Directions

91
  • The trail starts at the Boerestreek in Appelscha. This village is first mentioned in 1247, when was still called Appels, before officially changing its name to Appelscha in the 19th century. The name Appelscha means apple grove. The original farming village was located near Oud-Appelscha and was part of the county of Drenthe. With the arrival of thousands of Frisian peat workers in the 19th century, the village saw major growth and moved to its current location. Because of these great many Frisian immigrants, Appelscha officially adopted the Frisian language, although the Stellingwarfs dialect is more common in the area.
  • From Appelscha, you pedal your way into the Drens-Friese Wold National Park, the second largest swathe of forest and heathland in the Netherlands, after the Veluwe. The Drents-Friese Wold consists of four parts: the Smilde (Prinsenbos) and Appelscha protected forests, the old Berkenheuvel estate and the Wapserveld, the Doldersummerveld and parts of the forests of the Maatschappij van Weldadigheid. The oldest forests in the area, the Dieverzand and the Bosberg, are located in the Berkenheuvel estate and have developed into pine forests with an undergrowth consisting mainly of mainly crowberry. The Wapserveld and Doldersummerveld consist mainly of humid heathland. In the Drents-Friese Wold, you can come across various (protected) species of plants and animals, such as bog asphodel, small lousewort, heath spotted orchid, marsh gentian, the alcon blue butterfly and the common adder. The old forest is home to the honey buzzard and the black woodpecker.
  • The Aekingerbroek and the Drentse Broek, which skirts the Aekingerzand, used to be a wet meadow and is the source area of the Vledder Aa. From here, the Vledder Aa meanders its way through Wateren, Doldersum and Vledder towards the Wapserveensche Aa. A private flock of sheep grazes the outskirts of the Aekingerzand, which is kept in the Drents-Freise Wold National Park and is made up of Drenthe heath sheep and Schoonebeeker sheep, two endangered breeds.
  • In the Appelscha protected forest, you will find the Aekingerzand sand drift, also known as the Kale Duinen or Barren Dunes, which is the largest active sand drift in the north of the Netherlands. The sand is able to shift so easily because of overgrazing and sodding. This area is a unique habitat to a wide range of flora and fauna that can only survive in this environment, by grace of the shifting sand. The watchtower in the Aekingerzand takes up a central position in ‘De Kale Duinen’, offering spectacular views of large parts of the area.
  • This cycling trail also takes you past the Drents-Friese Wold Outdoor Centre, the State Forestry Commission’s visitor centre, which is located near Appelscha in the Drents-Friese Wold National Park. In the outdoor centre, you can learn more about the local area and children can have a great time in the play forest.
  • Continue on the trail to pass through Oud-Applescha. The church of Oud-Appelscha was built in 1903, but the modern belfry is home to a bell from 1435.
  • You tour the fields outside Oosterwolde in a loop headed towards Fochteloo, and just before you reach the village, you will find two small groves. The closest is known as Camp Oranje, while the other grove is called Camp Ybenhaer. From 1942 to 1945, Camp Oranje served as a labour camp under the management of the Dutch Labour Service, and keen-eyed visitors will still find the remains of the old roll call area and a small bunker. Camp Ybenhaer was built in 1939 to house unemployed workers, who, just as Jewish prisoners would be later, were used in the reclamation of peat and heath.
  • Fochteloo, or De Fochtel, as it is known in the Stellingwarfs dialect, was founded along the Vogelrijd river, a small river that drains acidic peat water from the Fochtelooërveen. Farmers settled here as early as prehistoric times, building rather remarkable iron-age farms of which vestiges have since been found. The belfry in Fochteloo’s centuries-old cemetery has two 14th-century bells.
  • The cycling trail now continues to the beautiful Fochtelooërveen. This mire is a remnant of the expansive Smildiger Venen, featuring fens, marshes and heathlands. After the reclamations around 1600, two areas remained: the Witterveld near Assen and the Fochtelooërveen. In order to promote the growth of peat bogs, land was purchased along the borders of this area to serve as a buffer. The Fochtelooërveen is home to special bog plants, such as lavender heather, hare’s-tail cottongrass and round-leaved sundew. The birds found in this area are also remarkable, including the curlew, black-tailed godwit and crane. The area also boasts many species of amphibians, reptiles and dragonflies. The Dutch Society for the Preservation of Nature built a 15-metre high watchtower on the edge of the peat bog near Ravenswoud. After taking in the beautiful view, you leave the Fochtelooërveen and set course for Applescha once more.
  • You have completed the ‘Veenwolds’ cycling trail. Sit back and relax in one of the many great local cafés or restaurants and look back at this beautiful cycling trail.
91
91
63
61
62
82
88
85
83
79
93
52
58
62
64
66
75
90
91

Attributes

  • Starting point:
  • Signposted: Yes
  • Explanation marking: