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Drentsche Aa

1 hour 57 minutes (39.0 km)
Managed by: Recreatieschap Drenthe

This route through Nationaal Beek- en Esdorpenlandschap (“national stream and esdorp landscape”) Drentsche Aa runs through the stream valley of the Drentsche Aa and is one of the most pristine, meandering stream networks in the Netherlands. In Drenthe, the stream has the name of the village it passes by. Only in the province of Groningen does the stream start being called Drentsche Aa.

An encounter with one of Drenthe’s heathland sheep is a near certainty when cycling or walking through Balloërveld. This is because there’s a large herd of them grazing here. Cycling alongside the meandering stream, heaths, drifting sands and the many small bridges in the stream valley is an absolute treat. Not only the idyllic esdorpen (an esdorp is a type of villa…

This route through Nationaal Beek- en Esdorpenlandschap (“national stream and esdorp landscape”) Drentsche Aa runs through the stream valley of the Drentsche Aa and is one of the most pristine, meandering stream networks in the Netherlands. In Drenthe, the stream has the name of the village it passes by. Only in the province of Groningen does the stream start being called Drentsche Aa.

An encounter with one of Drenthe’s heathland sheep is a near certainty when cycling or walking through Balloërveld. This is because there’s a large herd of them grazing here. Cycling alongside the meandering stream, heaths, drifting sands and the many small bridges in the stream valley is an absolute treat. Not only the idyllic esdorpen (an esdorp is a type of village in the Netherlands, often originating in medieval times, bordering on an area of sandy soils) Anloo, Balloo and Taarlo are well worth visiting—also make sure to visit one of the charming brinken (a brink is a central open space to be found in many of Drenthe’s sandy settlements) of Zuidlaren or Rolde. And don’t forget to visit the lively brinken of Zuidlaren and Rolde.

This cycling route (Drentsche Aa), totalling a distance of 39.5 kilometres, takes you past a diverse range of highlights that have had a formative role in shaping Drenthe.

Sights on this route

Kerkbrink 5
9451 AL Rolde

Kerkbrink 7
9451 AL Rolde

Hoofdstraat 11
9451 BA Rolde

Rolde

Grote Brink 24
9451 BR Rolde
Rolde

Dolmen D17 and D18

9451 Rolde
Dolmen D17 and D18
73 71

Hagenend 2
9465 TS Anderen

Hagenend 3
9465 TS Anderen

Veenvoort 3
9465 TN Anderen
76

Gasterenseweg 1
9467 TA Anloo
77

Kerkbrink 6
9467 PH Anloo

Kerkbrink 4
9467 PH Anloo

Kerkbrink 3
9467 PH Anloo

Brinkstraat 5
9467 PD Anloo

Lunsenhof 20
9467 PM Anloo

9467 Anloo

9467 Anloo
91

9467 Anloo
98 92

Het Laarwoud 1
9471 AV Zuidlaren

Brink O.Z. 2
9471 AE Zuidlaren
60

Stationsweg 17
9471 GJ Zuidlaren

Zuiderstraat 1
9471 KJ Zuidlaren
62 89 39

Hoofdweg 205
9485 TA Taarlo
67 68

Markeweg 2
9409 TH Loon
11 16

Asserstraat 63
9451 TA Rolde
23

Balloo
9458 TC Balloo
69

Tumuliboslaan
9451 TC Rolde

Kamps 1
9451 TB Rolde

Wilhelminalaan 7
9451 AG Rolde
70

Stationsstraat 16
9451 AJ Rolde

Kerkbrink 5
9451 AL Rolde

Directions

Kerkbrink 5
9451 AL Rolde
  • Dolmens, a church, a mill, pastures, meadows, brinken, farms and several other, less predictable elements—Rolde has it all! On top of that, Rolde also has some delightful catering establishments. A great starting location for the Drentsche Aa cycling route. Rolde’s history dates back to 1232. Like Balloo, Rolde played an important role in Drenthe during the Middle Ages. Rolde was the “capital” of Drenthe. Until 1688 it was one of the three meeting places of the so-called Etstoel, Drenthe’s highest judicial court, which would meet annually. Featuring an imposing tower, the current church was constructed in the 15th century. Next to the church are two of Drenthe’s most famous dolmens.

Interesting fact: almost a century ago, in 1925, the 28-kilometre-long TT circuit ran across a long triangle of roads from Rolde to Borger, via Westdorp to Schoonloo and back again to Rolde via Grolloo.

Start the route with a cup of coffee and something nice to eat in Rolde and then leave in the direction of Anderen.

  • With its large, pristine farms and green setting, Anderen is almost uncharacteristically serene for a Dutch village.
  • The route subsequently continues in the direction of Gasteren and then towards Anloo. The route continues past Eexterveld, boasting beautiful heathlands, Scottish Highlanders and majestic views along the way. Many of the landscape’s old wooden hedgerows have remained preserved. The entire landscape attracts many birds, including relatively many small species—such as robins, siskins, tits and notches—that are able to comfortably nest in the overgrown hedgerows and small woodlands.
  • Anloo is home to what is probably Drenthe’s oldest church, the Magnus Church. It has been built on an area where no fewer than five wooden churches have once stood. The church has murals, an organ from 1718 and eight tombstones from the 12th to the 18th century. The church was also used as the meeting place of the aforementioned Etstoel. Three dolmens can be found in the vicinity of Anloo. These are D7 and D8 in the Kniphorst forest and D11 between Eext and Anloo.
  • From Anloo, you head towards Zuidlaren. You cycle past the forest of Strubben-Kniphorst—the first archaeological reserve of the Netherlands—where you can find, among other things, burial mounds, urn fields, dolmens and various other traces of prehistoric life. The track intersecting the area is estimated to have been in use for more than five thousand years.
  • A visit to Zuidlaren wouldn’t be complete without meeting Berend Botje “in person.” Zuidlaren has seven brinken. The brink in the centre of the village is unmistakable. To the observant eye, it might even seem like there are two brinken. The first brink is full of trees. This is where the (horse) market has been held for more than eight hundred years. The other brink is where the church stands. It is surrounded by stately architecture—realised as a result of generations of rich Groningers fleeing from their city. Visit the mill museum De Wachter. The substructure and outbuilding are home to a total of twelve steam engines. There is also a smithy, an artisanal bakery, a clog maker and a museum shop from 1890.
  • The route continues in the direction of Schipborg, Zeegse and then towardsTaarlo. The small village of Taarlo is among the oldest villages in Drenthe. It is mentioned as early as 820 in some sources. The village has remained small. Several old farms can be found around its brink with dobbe (a dobbe is a small natural or artificial pool).
  • The route continues towards Loon. There is the option of embarking on a short “outing” to the beautiful Balloërveld while cycling this route. This is an unspoiled nature reserve featuring heathlands and sand dunes. The archaeological richness of the field shows what a tremendous gravitational pull this area must have had on prehistoric mankind. Exceptionally valuable are the roughly forty burial mounds, made out of earth or turf, in which one or more dead lay buried. Totalling around four hundred of Drenthe’s heathland sheep, the Balloërveld sheep herd is the largest in Drenthe.
  • Loon is typical Drenthe esdorp. It is located at the edge of the National Beek- en Esdorplandschap Drentsche Aa. Drentsche Aa, called Looner Diep in this region, flows past the village. Loon has two national heritage sites. One of these is a unique 19th-century farm complex along Markeweg 2. This complex has a large back door, barn and pigsty. There is also a dolmen (D15).
  • From Loon, continue the last part of the route back towards Rolde.

Kerkbrink 5
9451 AL Rolde
73
71
76
77
91
98
92
60
62
89
39
67
68
11
16
23
69
70

Attributes

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