Beilerdingspel

2 hours 36 minutes (52.0 km)
Managed by: Recreatieschap Drenthe

Cycle from one area of outstanding natural beauty to the next in the former medieval Beilerdingspel. Back in the day, Drenthe was divided into 6 jurisdictions: the so-called dingspels. Beilen was situated in the heart of the Beilerdingspel, where this cycle trail starts and ends.

Discover the wealth of natural beauty surrounding Beilen. The Beilerdingspel trail is the premier cycle trail when it comes to natural beauty. In the Middle Ages, Drenthe belonged to the diocese of Utrecht and was divided into 6 jurisdictions: the dingspels. The ‘ding’, was an assembly that was held three times a year until 1580. Beilen was situated in the heart of the Beilerdingspel, where this cycle trail starts and ends.

Terhorsterzand is home to ove…

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Cycle from one area of outstanding natural beauty to the next in the former medieval Beilerdingspel. Back in the day, Drenthe was divided into 6 jurisdictions: the so-called dingspels. Beilen was situated in the heart of the Beilerdingspel, where this cycle trail starts and ends.

Discover the wealth of natural beauty surrounding Beilen. The Beilerdingspel trail is the premier cycle trail when it comes to natural beauty. In the Middle Ages, Drenthe belonged to the diocese of Utrecht and was divided into 6 jurisdictions: the dingspels. The ‘ding’, was an assembly that was held three times a year until 1580. Beilen was situated in the heart of the Beilerdingspel, where this cycle trail starts and ends.

Terhorsterzand is home to overwhelming natural beauty, featuring a wide variety of plants and animals. The Dwingelderveld is the largest area of wet heathland in Western Europe. You might just find an adder wriggling about along the trail! There are many traces of prehistoric habitation on and around the Hijkerveld, such as burial mounds from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age. There are various great spots to take a brief break and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and a slice of cake, such as the villages of Beilen, Spier of Hooghalen.

The trail starts at Beilen train station on Stationslaan, 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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9411 Beilen

9411 Beilen

9411 Beilen
30 45

Oude Postweg 8
9417 TG Spier

The Nature Game Drenthe

Oude Postweg 6-8 12
9417TG Spier
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Smalbroek
9411 TV Beilen
46 38 36 07 08

9423 Hoogersmilde

9415 Hijken

Hijkerweg
9414 AH Hijken
02

Hijkerweg
9414 AH Hooghalen
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Stationsstraat 1
9414 TH Hooghalen

9414 Hooghalen

Kerkweg
9414 Hooghalen
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Westerbork Memorial Centre

Oosthalen 8
9414 TG Hooghalen
05 15 01

Hekstraat 40
9411NH Beilen

Prins Bernhardstraat 12
9411 KH Beilen
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Directions

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  • The history of Beilen and its surrounding area goes back a long way: people already lived here about 20,000 years ago. In 1955, a major archaeological find was made in Beilen, when large quantities of sand were brought in for the construction of the new craft school. Amidst all this sand, the ‘treasure of Beilen’ was found, consisting of 4th-century AD Roman coins (soldi) and gold jewellery. Today, the treasure can be admired in the Drents Museum in Assen.
  • Beilen is an esdorp village that first arose on Drenthe’s higher-lying sandy soils in the early Middle Ages. Since its earliest beginnings, the village was situated on the road from Meppel to Groningen. In the Middle Ages, Drenthe was divided into 6 large administrative units: the so-called dingspels, including the Beilerdingspel. The church village developed into the capital of the dingspel of the same name. In 1820, a major fire raged in Beilen, depriving it of its original agricultural character. After the Second World War, the village expanded, particularly on the eastern and southern sides.
  •  The reformed church at Prins Bernhardstraat 1 was first mentioned in 1139. The current Gothic church was built around the year 1500 and was originally dedicated to St. Stephen. Stylistically speaking, the tower is considered to belong to the so-called Drenthe tower family of Johan die Werckmeyster. In 1607, the entire building - apart from the walls - was destroyed by a fire, followed by a period of recovery. The church was restored in 1937 and 1990.
  • Now leave Beilen, cycling southwards. The first nature reserve you will encounter is Terhorsterzand, which spans approximately 181 hectares. This area was originally a sand drift that was partially ‘secured’ by the planting of pines in 1900. The Terhorstenzand can be divided into two parts, one of which is privately owned and one of which belongs to the State Forestry Commission. It is a small, but varied area featuring sand drifts, peat bog remnants, dry and wet heathland with a fen (Makkumerplas) and juniper scrub. The northern part is home to a shallow swamp pond and the heathland is grazed by sheep and young cattle. This varied area serves as the habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna, and because of this great variety, it is an area of considerable scientific significance.
  • Now leave the Terhorsterzand and cycle towards Spier, where you can take a brief break in one of its many restaurants and cafés. You can also choose to wait until after you cross the viaduct over the A28 motorway at the Natuurpoort Spier, one of the entrances to the Dwingelerveld. This is where you will find the Boslounge Spier, a restaurant and information centre about the area. Just outside the Boslounge, children can have a ball in the play paradise.
  • Get back on your bike to experience all the Dwingelderveld as to offer. You will cycle along the path named Drenthe’s most beautiful cycle path in 2017: the Commissaris Cramerpad. There is always something to experience in Western Europe’s largest area of wet heathland. You may spot a kestrel high in the sky, see a common adder on the cycle path, or hear a skylark or crane singing in the distance. Wet gullies and dry sand ridges alternate, allowing for highly varied flora and fauna. Fens formed in the deeper parts, some of which are pingo ruins. In the ice age, an underground ice lens melted, forming a bowl with a small ridge.
  • Once you leave the Dwingelderveld, you can continue at a good pace, as you pass the valley of the Beilerstroom. The vistas here are overwhelming. After passing the Beilerstroom, you will arrive at the next nature reserve: the Brunstinger plassen, an area with old sand drifts and barren heathland, as well as some beautiful fens.
  • Having only just recovered from all that natural beauty, you will pedal past the Zuid Hijkerzand, a large swathe of heathland owned by the State Forestry Commission. The heather here blooms from mid-August to mid-September and earned its nickname ‘purple splendour’ for a reason.
  • As you cycle past the Oranjekanaal, you will reach the village of Oranje, which grew around a former Avebe potato starch factory that has been closed since the mid-1980s.
  • Get off your bike at the bridge over the canal and take in the view. Jump back on the bike and head towards the Hijkerveld, a vast moorland with dozens of fens and peat remnants. There are many traces of prehistoric habitation on and around the Hijkerveld, such as burial mounds from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age. From the finds, we can infer that the Hijkerveld has been inhabited from the Stone Age until Roman times.
  • After passing the A28 motorway, you will arrive in the esdorp village of Hooghalen, which stands atop a salt mound. Here, you can take another break to explore the restaurants and cafés in the Hoofdstraat.
  • The last nature reserve you will cycle through on this trail is the Heuvinger Zand, and old sand drift area that was once created due to overgrazing. People sought to secure the drifting sand by planting trees, which created a beautiful, varied forest in the course of time. Here and there, you can still come across small sand drifts.
  • After this final nature reserve, you will cycle back towards Beilen through open countryside with fields and meadows, speeding towards your reward: a drink and a tasty snack on a patio terrace.
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