Bijvoetpad

3 hour 20 minutes (15.0 km)
Managed by: Recreatieschap Drenthe

The Dolmen Centre in Borger is the starting point of this lovely trail that passes by six dolmens, as well as being the ideal place to learn all there is to know about Dolmens. It doesn’t get more Drenthe than this.

Track these ancient dolmen builders on the 13.5-kilometre ‘Bijvoetpad’ trail around Borger. You will walk across the Hondsrug and come across many dolmens, as well as forests, fields, meadows, sand, heathland and a canal with bridges and weirs. 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 Borger and in Drouwen, along the trail.

At the start of the trail, you…

The Dolmen Centre in Borger is the starting point of this lovely trail that passes by six dolmens, as well as being the ideal place to learn all there is to know about Dolmens. It doesn’t get more Drenthe than this.

Track these ancient dolmen builders on the 13.5-kilometre ‘Bijvoetpad’ trail around Borger. You will walk across the Hondsrug and come across many dolmens, as well as forests, fields, meadows, sand, heathland and a canal with bridges and weirs. 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 Borger and in Drouwen, along the trail.

At the start of the trail, you will virtually bump into the largest dolmen in the Netherlands. It is truly mind-blowing to imagine that people were able to build graves with such large boulders over 5000 years ago. Next, you continue the trail to the other five dolmens.

On the way to the village of Drouwen, you will first come across a trio of dolmens, and as you proceed along the sandy path, you will encounter two more dolmens, hidden in the shade of the trees.

The trail also passes through Bronneger which, according to an old legend, was once the site of a highly civilised town that had been built by giants and was later inhabited by humans.

After leaving Bronneger, you walk back to Borger, the ‘dolmen capital’ of the Netherlands with a view of the Hunze river valley.

Sights on this route

Starting point: Hunebedstraat 27
9531 JV Borger

Hunebedcentrum

Hunebedstraat 27
9531 JV Borger
Hunebedcentrum

Dolmen D23, D24 and D25

9527 Bronneger
Dolmen D23, D24 and D25

Dolmen D21 and D22

9527 Bronneger
Dolmen D21 and D22

Alinghoek 7
9533 PD Drouwen

Alinghoek 16
9533 PE Drouwen

Buinerstraat 2
9526 TE Bronnegerveen

Dorpsstraat 17
9527 TB Bronneger

Brinkstraat
9531 JM Borger

Hoofdstraat 34
9531 AG Borger

Hoofdstraat 19
9531 AA Borger

Hunebedstraat 2
9531 JV Borger

Hunebedstraat 19
9531 JT BORGER

Hunebedstraat
9531 JV Borger

Dolmen D27

9531 Borger
Dolmen D27
End point: Hunebedstraat 27
9531 JV Borger

Directions

Starting point: Hunebedstraat 27
9531 JV Borger
  • Mugwort is a common, high, perennial summer-flowering plant, of which the Dutch name, bijvoet (near foot), is reminiscent of an ancient Roman custom. The Romans would put pieces of the plant in their sandals to relieve their tired feet, as its leaves contain an essential oil that evaporates when it comes into contact with warm feet and has a cooling effect. The Latin name Artemisia refers to the goddess Artemis, and the plant’s popular nickname as ‘the mother of all herbs’ speaks for itself. The herb was a common folk medicine for all women’s diseases. Some leaves have galls on them and according to an old superstition, anyone lucky enough to find such a leaf is promised great treasure.
  • This trail starts at the Borger Dolmen Centre. This special centre will take you back to prehistorical times, when the first farmers settled in Drenthe. These farmers were the people who built the impressive stone burial monuments, the remains of which can still be admired in today’s landscape. 52 of these dolmens still remain to this day, the largest of which is right next to the dolmen centre. The museum tells the story of these mysterious megalithic tombs and the people who built them.
  • Boasting 18 of the 52 dolmens that remain in Drenthe today, Borger is rightfully considered the ‘dolmen capital’ of the Netherlands. These dolmens were built by the first farmers in Drenthe, and we will come across six of these 5000-year-old graves during this trail: one at Borger and five at Bronneger. Archaeologists believe that they are the products of what they have dubbed the Funnelbeaker culture, owing to the remarkable shape of their funnel-shaped pots. The largest dolmen in the Netherlands is 22.5 metres long and is located right next to the Dolmen centre. After admiring this special dolmen, it is time to up the pace and leave Borger behind you.
  • Between Borger and Drouwen, you will pass a remarkable place, home to a trio of dolmens (D23, D24 and D25). There are only two of such groups in Drenthe: one here in Bronneger and one in Emmen. A little further on, two dolmens stand close together (D21 and D22). Dolmen D21 is the most beautiful dolmen of the five because it is so well preserved and because it is the site of the most archaeological finds. Note how the large beech tree has virtually merged into the dolmen. Dolmen D22 is a stone’s throw away and has the same structure as D21, though it is in worse condition. This is the smallest dolmen left in Drenthe. This picturesque spot was the site of many an archaeological find in the early 20th century, ranging from shards to complete pots. Continue the trail towards Drouwen, which is surrounded by fantastic forests and heathlands.
  • Just past Drouwen, you will pass the Drouwenerzand, a vast area of forests and heathlands between Drouwen and Gasselte. This area is also home to various sand drifts, and though no effort was spared to curb the drifting sand in the past, all efforts are now focused on preserving it. The juniper tree stands out in the heathland, and although it is rare in the Netherlands, it is still fairly common in Drenthe. The berries that grow on these trees are used to make genever, a Dutch gin.
  • Leaving the Drouwenerzand behind you, you continue your walk to Bronneger. An old legend has it that Drenthe was once the home to a highly civilised city that was built by giants and later inhabited by humans, before being destroyed by the Vikings in 809/810. This city is known as Hunsow and people have been looking for traces of this lost Drenthe Utopia since 1660, focusing on the Exloo-Valthe area. However, Mr Hingstman, a farmer from Bronneger and amateur archaeologist, claims that his land hides the former seat of Hunsow. It is undisputed that remnants of a Roman settlement have been found, but a ‘Welcome to Hunsow’ sign is yet to be discovered...
  • At the former revolving railway bridge and the bridge keeper's house, the route runs along the former route of the Northeast-Local railway in the direction of the Drouwen station. This railway was constructed in 1905 as part of the Emmen-Stadskanaal route, with stations in Buinen, Gasselternijveen and Drouwen. The street that passes along the homes here is still called the Spoorstraat (Railway street) to this day.
  • Between Bronneger and Borger, you can enjoy beautiful views of the Hunze river valey. The Hunze is an old river that forms the eastern border of the Hondsrug, where you can come across height differences as great as 20 metres.
  • Slowly, Borger will start to come back into sight. Before the Second World War, it was home to a small Jewish community, which had its own cemetery and synagogue. Note the use of the Jewish calendar on the gravestones.
  • You will pass by the statue of Drenthe writer Harm Tiesing, who lived from 1853 and 1936 and wrote about a variety of subjects from everyday life. He held a prominent position in Borger’s political and social life.
  • The Dutch Reformed church is a real eye-catcher in Borger. The tower, built from monastic bricks and resting on a foundation of heavy boulders, dates from the 14th century and stands at 27 metres. In 1949, a new bell was hung in the tower, replacing its predecessor from 1501. The clock is estimated to be more than 300 years old, though it is impossible to determine the year in which the church was originally built. It is known that this church was dedicated to Saint Willebrordus and that the Ridderschap van Eigenerfden (Order of Owners) made 150 Carolus guilders available for the restoration of this building in 1666. The grating that separates the churchyard from the Hoofdstraat prevented stray pigs from entering the cemetery. According to locals, the grating served to ward off the devil and his goat’s legs.
  • Before the trail ends at the Dolmen centre, pay a visit to the sheepfold and de Speulkoel open air theatre. This is the end of the ‘Bijvoet’ trail. Sit back and relax in one of the many great local cafés or restaurants and look back at this beautiful hike.
End point: Hunebedstraat 27
9531 JV Borger