Town and Country

3 hours 7 minutes (14.0 km)
Managed by: Recreatieschap Drenthe

What do the Hondsrug and an old railroad have to do with each other? Between Gieten and Gasselte, you will walk over both. While on the Town and Country trail, you will picture yourself back in the iron age, passing through the burial mounds as you follow a century-old train track.

Follow the old railway line with this 13-kilometre trail between Gieten and Gasselte. For a delicious snack or a refreshing drink during your hike, there are plenty of opportunities at the start and end of the trail in Gieten and in and around Gasselte, about halfway.

The hike starts in Gieten, situated on the Ho…

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What do the Hondsrug and an old railroad have to do with each other? Between Gieten and Gasselte, you will walk over both. While on the Town and Country trail, you will picture yourself back in the iron age, passing through the burial mounds as you follow a century-old train track.

Follow the old railway line with this 13-kilometre trail between Gieten and Gasselte. For a delicious snack or a refreshing drink during your hike, there are plenty of opportunities at the start and end of the trail in Gieten and in and around Gasselte, about halfway.

The hike starts in Gieten, situated on the Hondsrug. Gieten is an original esdorp village with a characteristic brink, or village square, surrounded by forests and heathland. Gieten was at the intersection of major medieval routes, which were among the first to be paved in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, a railway station was also built here for the Assen - Stadskanaal railway line. During this trail, you will follow a section of this track until you reach gAsselte.

You will also hike across the Hondsrug, the Netherlands’ only geopark. The Hondsrug is an elongated ridge in Drenthe and Groningen that stretches from Emmen to the city of Groningen, covering 70 kilometres at an average height of 20 metres above sea level.

Before the trail takes you back to Gieten, you will first make a loop through the former hamlet of Bonnen. This is where Huis te Bonnen, which would later become Entinge te Bonnen manor, was first built in the 17th century, before being demolished in 1807.

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Sights on this route

Starting point: Asserstraat 25
9461 GA Gieten

Hazewind

Naweg/Eexterweg 0
9461 BD Gieten

Brink 8
9461 AS Gieten

Brink 9
9461 AR Gieten

Oude Groningerweg 18
9461 BP Gieten

Bonnerdijk 3
9461 TE Gieten

De Bonne 2
9461 AE Gieten

Varik 1
9461 TK Gieten

Verlengde Looweg 5
9461 TP Gieten

Stationsstraat 1
9462 PB Gasselte

Gieterweg 6 a
9462 TD Gasselte
End point: Asserstraat 25
9461 GA Gieten

Directions

Starting point: Asserstraat 25
9461 GA Gieten
  • Gieten is first named in 1221, but must be much older, considering the burial mounds in the Zwanemeerbos just to the north of the town. The church was built in the 15th century and owes its current, hardly mediaeval appearance to a series of renovations around 1850. Opposite the church is the former Braams hotel, which was built as an inn along the medieval road from Groningen to Coevorden in 1617. Part of this road has now become the dirt road that leads through the Zwanemeerbos forest. Windmill ‘De Hazewind’ was built in 1833.
  • Via the Town and Field trail, you will follow part of the route of the former railway line from Assen to Stadskanaal up to the Gasselte station. This line was built in 1904-905 by the Noord Ooster Locaal Spoorweg Maatschappij (Northeastern Local Railway Society, or NOLS), which was founded in Zwolle in 1899. One of its main initiators was Mr J. Willink, a Winterswijk textile manufacturer who had previously been involved in the construction of railway lines in Twente. The Assen-Stadskanaal railway line was part of the NOLS railway network that stretched from Zwolle to Delfzijl and served to improve access to the Drenthe and Groningen countryside. In addition to facilitating travel, this made it cheaper and quicker to transport agricultural products. As was the case with many local railways, passenger transport declined sharply in the 1930s due to the rise of the car and bus and the crisis. Passenger transport was supposed to be discontinued in 1939, but due to the outbreak of the Second World War, passenger trains continued to run until 1948.
  • North of Gasselte, the track of the former railway line is more than 8 metres deep to compensate for the height difference between the Hondsrug and Hunzedal, earning the nickname ‘The Ravine’. The sand released during the construction of the track was used to build the railway embankment in the Hunzedal.
  • After making your way through ‘The Ravine’, you will continue to Gasselte, where the railroad split. The section to Stadskanaal is still completely intact as a footpath, with the exception of a section near Gasselternijeveen. The Weerdinge-Exloo-Buinen section is still clearly visible in the landscape and highlighted by the small station at Valthe. In Gasselte, you can take a quick break in one of the restaurants.
  • Then, retrace your steps a little and turn towards the Bonnerplas and Bonnerveld, the latter of which has been partially reclaimed. Continue walking towards the former hamlet of Bonnen, where the Huis te Bonnen was built by the mayor of Groningen, Johan Wifferinck, in the early 17th century. In 1725, the owner requested that the manor rights of Entinge in Dwingeloo be transferred to Huis te Bonnen. After his request was approved, the Huis te Bonnen officially became Entinge te Bonnen manor. The residence was ultimately demolished in 1807.
  • As you leave the former hamlet of Bonnen, you will make your way to Gieten, finding the Zwanemeerbos forest, an area of outstanding natural beauty, to the north of the village. This beautiful area is full of vestiges of the past, including burial mounds, spread over three groups. Research has shown that these burial mounds date mainly from the Iron Age (between 800 BC and 0 AD). Most of these mounds are so-called cremation mounds, with cores consisting of the charcoal residue of a cremation and some pottery remains.
  • The ‘Town and Country’ trail has now come to an end. Sit back and relax in one of the many great local cafés or restaurants and look back at this beautiful hike.
End point: Asserstraat 25
9461 GA Gieten