Brown gold

2 hours 30 minutes (50.0 km)
Managed by: Recreatieschap Drenthe

Old farms, peat bogs, memories of the oil industry, a former peat litter factory and a narrow-gauge railway are all to be found on this beautiful, varied cycling trail along the border between Drenthe and Germany.

This 49-kilometre cycle route starts in Schoonebeek and takes you along the Dutch-German border through remarkable peat bogs, over the narrow-gauge railway track and past pumpjacks. Would you like to see the place where Vincent van Gogh lived and worked for a while in the 19th century? In that case, pay a visit to the Van Gogh Huis in Veenoord.

In Zandpol, you’ll find the turfcafe (peat c…

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Old farms, peat bogs, memories of the oil industry, a former peat litter factory and a narrow-gauge railway are all to be found on this beautiful, varied cycling trail along the border between Drenthe and Germany.

This 49-kilometre cycle route starts in Schoonebeek and takes you along the Dutch-German border through remarkable peat bogs, over the narrow-gauge railway track and past pumpjacks. Would you like to see the place where Vincent van Gogh lived and worked for a while in the 19th century? In that case, pay a visit to the Van Gogh Huis in Veenoord.

In Zandpol, you’ll find the turfcafe (peat cafe), where the old machinery will take you back to the days when the peat litter factory was still in operation. In the Bargerveen peatland reserve, you can admire the beauty of nature from the various viewing hills and watchtowers.

The cycle route starts at the car park on the corner of the Europaweg and Burgemeester Osselaan, near Kerkeind 1, 7761 CL Schoonebeek (near node 01). There is ample free parking here. However, you can also use the signs to start the trail elsewhere.

This trail passes the following cycling nodes: 01, 34, 45, 24, 02, 23, 05, 04, 57, 58, 59, 62, 61, 88, 87, 86, 03 and 01. The trail can be shortened at cycling nodes 02, 05, 57 and 58.

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Sights on this route

Starting point: Kerkeind 1
7761 CL Schoonebeek

Burgemeester Osselaan 5
7761 BS Schoonebeek

Europaweg 116
7761 AL Schoonebeek

Schoonebeek
45

Schansweg
7244 Coevorden
24 02 23

Stieltjeskanaal 2
7764 AJ Zandpol
05

Kanaalweg 14
7761 PH Schoonebeek
04 57

Berkenlaan 14
7761 PM Schoonebeek

Industrieel Smalspoor Museum

Griendtsveenstraat 140
7887 TK Erica
58 59

Verlengde Scheperweg
7765 Zwartemeer

7765 Weiteveen
61 61

Zusterweg 17
7765 AZ Weiteveen

Zusterweg 19
7765 AX Weiteveen

Zusterweg 21
7765 AX Weiteveen

Ambachtsweg
7765 BX Weiteveen
88

Europaweg 143
7766 AE Nieuw Schoonebeek
87

Europaweg 46
7761 AH Schoonebeek
03 01

Burgemeester Osselaan 12
7761 BS Schoonebeek
End point: Kerkeind 1
7761 CL Schoonebeek

Directions

Starting point: Kerkeind 1
7761 CL Schoonebeek
  • The cycle trail starts at the parking lot at Kerkeind 1 in Schoonebeek. Schoonebeek is first mentioned in 1250. The tiny villages of Oosterse Bos, Middendorp and Westerse Bos have retained their agricultural character and are home to some of the oldest farms in the region. The most striking feature of Schoonebeek is the 17th-century farm and museum ‘Zwaantje Hans Stokmanshof’.
  • Schoonebeek is best known for its oil, after this valuable substance was first found in the Schoonebeekerveld in 1943. This oil field is the largest onshore oil field in Northwest Europe, and between 1948 and 1996, the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (Dutch Oil Company, or NAM) extracted a quarter of the oil present with the help of pumpjacks. NAM ceased drilling for oil in 1996, as the oil was too tough and viscous to be extracted using the techniques of the time.
  • Continue cycling through Schoonebeek along the Europaweg, approaching the Dutch-German border as you reach the outskirts of the village. Taking a winding course along the border, the trail will take you past tiny villages such as Vlieghuis and Stieltjeskanaal. Stieltjeskanaal is home to a transverse farmhouse with a detached outbuilding, a barn and a renovated furnace and pigsty dating from 1907. Transverse farmhouses are a typical type of Frisian farmhouse also known as Head-Neck-Body farms, which, in the Northern and Central Netherlands are usually farmhouses with a transverse residence. Transverse farmhouses have been known since the end of the Middle Ages and generally combine a barn with a residence that has a non-agricultural character. Dalerveen is home to a 1838 low German farmhouse and a 1923 transverse farmhouse.
  • After cycling into the village of Zandpol, you will find the Museum Meringa about cultural history and agriculture in the 20th century. From here, you can make a trip to the Van Gogh Huis, a museum annex visitor centre in Veenoord on the site where Vincent van Gogh spent some time living and working in the 19th century.
  • You will also find the peat café in Zandpol, located in a former peat litter factory owned by the Veldkamp family. The peat litter factory was built in 1926, before being closed in 1980. In the café, various machines and materials hark back to the days that the factory was still in use. The round brick tower was built in 1945.
  • The waterfront building is the only original peat litter factory in the Netherlands with a narrow-gauge depot. The factory was built in 1910 to process white peat, the top layer of the bog. White peat is turned into peat litter, which is used for potting soil and horse stables. Deeper peat is used as fuel and activated carbon by industry and pharmaceutical companies such as the Purit factory in Klazienaveen, which produces the Norit tablet. The peat litter factory was founded by Griendtsveen Turfstrooisel Maatschappij NV (Griendtsveen Peat Litter Company) in Rotterdam, which was the largest company in the sector for a very long time. The Company was founded by the Van de Griendt family around 1885. The peat for the factory was first brought in by ships, which could reach the peat bogs thanks to myriad canals. In the 20th century, peat was transported by narrow-gauge trains, and an extensive narrow-gauge network was built with various branches and a total length of 18 km, all the way to Schöningsdorf, Germany. The soft surface did not allow for the use of heavy equipment, which is why narrow-gauge track of only 90 cm in width was used. In 1983, the peat litter factory ceased all activities in the Netherlands. The adjacent Industrial Narrow-Gauge Museum explains the unique history of this area.
  • You now leave Zandpol and continue your journey towards the Bargerveen. This bog reserve spans 2028 hectares and forms the last large remnant of the Bourtanger moor, most of which has been fully harvested. The Bargerveen consists of three sections: the Amsterdamsche Veld, the Schoonbeekerveld and the Meerstalblok. The topsoil of the Amsterdamsche and Schoonbeekerveld has been excavated, and the Meerstal block has only been partially excavated. The Bargerveen is home to many special plants, such as bog asphodel, cranberry, lavender heather, leopard marsh orchid and many species of peat moss. The area is also known for its many characteristic and rare breeding birds, such as the red-backed shrike, spotted crake, water rail, greylag goose and bluethroat. The area is also of great importance because of its large population of common adders, and the smooth snake is also common here. The Bargerveen also occupies a special place because of the many species of rare insects, such as the silver-studded blue and several species of dragonfly. In the Bargerveen, you will find viewing hills and watchtowers, from which you can revel in the beauty of nature.
  • You will also cycle through Weiteveen, a former peat colony, which is now home to the Weiteveen Peat centre, located in the former Roman Catholic Presbytery. The Weiteveen centre invites you to meet the nuns and pioneers who lived in this village amidst the peatlands in the past, and in the nearby Nature Information Centre, you can learn all there is to know about the flora and fauna of this unique part of Drenthe.
  • From Weiteveen, the trail will take you to Nieuw-Schoonebeek, where you will find a modest Neo-Romanesque church tower built in 1855. The tower is a remnant of a Roman Catholic hall church that was demolished at the end of the 1960s. Just outside this village is Border Post 160-I, which is a perfectly preserved example of the border posts that lined the national border between Drenthe and Germany.
  • From Nieuw-Schoonebeek, you now cycle back to Schoonebeek, passing the 1905 Schoonebeek transverse farmhouse and De Boô Leisure Centre. Prompted by the fact that there was desperately little to do in Schoonebeek for the growing number of employees of the NAM Dutch Oil Company, the board decided to build a leisure centre. The architect responsible for the design was inspired by the ‘boos’, a type of traditional cattle hut with a living area found in the stream valley of the Schoonebeekerdiep, transferring the homely atmosphere of these stables to the architecture of the De Boô leisure centre. You can also visit the Zwaantje Hans-Stokman’s hof museum and sand-art farm. This is a beautifully restored Saxon farmhouse with barn from the 17th century.
  • You have completed the ‘Brown gold’ cycling trail. Sit back and relax in one of the many great local cafés or restaurants and look back at this beautiful cycling trail.
End point: Kerkeind 1
7761 CL Schoonebeek
45
24
02
23
05
04
57
58
59
61
61
88
87
03
01