Havelterberg route

(55.0 km)

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  • The Havelterberg route is a varied cycling tour through rural Drenthe. The route takes you p…

    The Havelterberg route is a varied cycling tour through rural Drenthe. The route takes you past peaceful natural landscapes with rich histories, dotted with picturesque villages such as Havelte and Ruinerwold. Around the ‘Holtingerveld’ Natura 2000 reserve, a large number of dolmens and burial mounds have been found. This stunning natural landscape is home to a herd of around 350 sheep. The green village of Havelte is also referred to as ‘the pearl of Drenthe’. The village is situated along the Drenthe Hoofdvaart waterway. This strategic position saw the Germans establish their large military airbase Fliegerhorst here during the Second World War. However, the airbase was never in use as such, as it was bombed by the Allies soon after. It is now used as a military training area.

    The town of Meppel with its rich history definitely warrants a stopover. Meppel is a lovely town with clear signs of its rich trading history. Marvel at the beautiful houses with their unique details.

    This cycling route (Havelterberg route) spans 54 kilometres and leads you past a variety of Drenthe’s highlights.

    The route starts in Havelterberg. There is plenty of parking available near the starting point.

    Sights on this route


















    • The route starts at the Havelterberg hill, a spot with plenty of history still visible. It is not for nothing that the area known for its nature ‘sculpted by ice and war’. The area boasts many burial mounds and dolmens, among other things. The area between Havelterberg and Holtinge also has a rich war history. One example is the airbase, intended by the Germans to be a grand project. However, Fliegerhorst Havelte was never actually put into use. Thanks to many Allied bombardments, the Germans were unable to complete the airbase. Deep bomb craters still pockmark the area, now filled up with water and home to salamanders and frogs.
    • The Johannes Postkazerne is one of the last remaining large barracks still in use after the end of the Cold War and the abolishment of compulsory military service. Johannes Post (1904-1944) was a renowned Dutch resistance fighter, first in Drenthe and later on in many other places in the Netherlands, including The Hague, Breda and Amsterdam. After his arrest in Amsterdam, he was executed by firing squad.
    • The route continues via Wapserveen, towards Holtinge and on to Uffelte. Holtinge is located in one of the oldest inhabited areas in West Europe. Evidence of habitation dating back to around 50,000 BC has been found here. In the Holtingerveld area (between Holtinge and Havelterberg), 12 burial mounds can still be found.
    • Uffelte features a village green and many traditional Saxon farmsteads. The common land around Uffelte, used as a farming collective, features some ash trees as well as wooded areas, heathlands and sand drifts. The Oosterzand and Westerzand to the north of the village make up an area consisting of wooded areas, heathlands and peat (Uffelterzand). The Uffelterzand was part of the so-called ‘marke’ (common land), where many flocks of sheep grazed. Sheep were so essential for fertilisation of the ash trees that the grazing pressure on the ‘marke’ land became too much. This, together with turf cutting, contributed to the destruction of the upper soil layer, resulting in sand drifts. Back in the 19th century, this constituted a disaster, but nowadays, conservationists feel it contributes to biodiversity and the appeal of the landscape.
    • The green village of Havelte, also referred to as ‘the pearl of Drenthe’, is located along the Drenthe Hoofdvaart waterway. This strategic position meant the Germans wanted to establish their large military airbase Fliegerhorst here during the Second World War, among other things.
    • The route continues to Ruinerwold via Eursinge and Haveltermade. Ruinerwold is home to no less than 29 national monuments, 14 of which are also provincial monuments. Two listed farmhouses have been set up as museum farms: the Karstenhoeve (dating back to the seventeenth century) and ‘Van Bovendijk’, a working, traditional farm. The reformed church on the outskirts of the village dates back to the fifteenth century. Those cycling the ‘Havelterberg route’ in April are lucky to be met by a glorious sight on the Dokter de Larijweg; along this road, 1400 pear trees flaunt their blossoms in spring.
    • The route continues towards Blijdenstein, to the beautiful town of Meppel. Meppel is full is culture and history. Many people are not aware that Meppel is a harbour town. The name Meppel is derived from the term ‘möppel’, Old Dutch for estuary. Here, several small streams converged into the Meppelerdiep, which in turn flowed into the Zuiderzee at Genemuiden. When peat extraction gained momentum in Southeast Drenthe at the end of the 19th century, Meppel became a storage and distribution hub and therefore expanded quickly. Nowadays, Meppel is a collection of extraordinary monuments. The lovely town is an absolute must-see. Marvel at the many national monuments and houses with unique details and watch the world go by at one of the many cosy cafes and bars in the heart of town.
    • The Reestdal, a brook valley on the border with Overijssel, is home to unique plants and animals. Thanks to the transitions between highlands and lowlands and between dry and wet, the species here include large sedges, narrow small-reed and the great burnet. The grasslands often feature annual meadow grass and ryegrass. The humid open grasslands are a good habitat for meadow birds, who love nesting in a brook valley. For this reason, the area is well-known for the many storks that flock to the Reestdal in their hundreds during the summer.
    • Nijenveen is first mentioned 1310, not as Nijenveen but as Hesselerveen. This section of peatland used to belong to the village of Hesselte near Havelte. The Gothic church on the outskirts of the village is almost entirely authentic, with an altar dating back to 1477.
    • At first glance, the village of Darp is not the most likely place to store nuclear weapons. However, this was exactly what happened between 1961 and 1992, in a complex in the woods, guarded by an inner ring and a concentric outer ring, with American military personnel inside and Dutch conscripts outside. A watchtower (De Site) still remains to remind us of the village’s  past as a nuclear storage site. Incidentally, the government has never issued an official confirmation that nuclear weapons were stored here.
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