Heathlands in the Netherlands

3 hiking highlights in the Dutch heathlands

What is special in the Netherlands in August and the beginning of September? The epic beaches, beautiful island or special cheeses? No, at this time the heathlands in the Netherlands are flowering. You can enjoy endless views of pink flowers in many parts of the Netherlands! This is the perfect time for a hike or to make beautiful photographs.

What are heathlands?

Heathlands occur when environmental conditions are particularly harsh. For instance, they occur on dry, nutrient poor and acidic soils. The landscape is open, as small shrubs such as heather dominate it. Heathlands in the Netherlands were widespread from the Middle Ages onward, because farmers used the land for grazing with sheep. The sheep kept the landscape open, because without grazing or another kind of disturbance the heathlands will typically develop into a forest. Nowadays, a lot of heathlands have been lost due to land-use changes and afforestation.

Where can you find the heathlands in the Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, heathlands are still relatively common. We visited many in the last years. The largest heathlands you can find in the Veluwe and in the north of the country. In all areas, you can find many different routes of varying lengths. Below we show you 3 insider tips of amazing heathlands in the Netherlands.

3 insider tips where to find the most beautiful heathlands in the Netherlands

#1: National Park Veluwezoom – The Posbank

One of our favourite areas is the Posbank. The Posbank is part of National Park Veluwezoom. The landscape has a small relief, making the views spectacular. In addition, horses roam the fields, which can be great subjects for photographs.

The Posbank is easy to reach by train. You can go with a train from Arnhem to Rheden. From Rheden, it is only a 10-minute walk to the Visitor Center. From here, many hikes start.

You can follow two different official hiking routes, which start from the Visitor Center (see map below). However, you can also make your own route. We first hiked the black route until the viewpoint and then randomly followed other paths that were not part of the official route.

Official routes of Natuurmonumenten

#2: Hoge Veluwe National Park

Another area with large area of heathlands is the Hoge Veluwe. To enter this National Park, you have to pay a small entrance fee. It is possible to explore the park on foot or by bike. We explored the park by bike. The white bikes in the park are free to use by everyone! This gives you the opportunity to see the entire park in a day. In addition, there is a famous museum called the Kröller-Müller museum. It has one of the largest Van Gogh collection in the world. We did not visit the museum, but only explored the park.

There are three entrances: Otterlo, Hoenderlo and Schaarsbergen. We started our day in Otterlo, explored the park by bike, and cycled through the park at random. At the entrance, you can get a map or you just go at random through the park. For instance, for walking there are many routes: 1) “Landscape path” of 4.1 km (~1.5 h), 2) “Marked route” of which there are 13 variants – a map you can buy at the entrance of the park, 3) “Experience route” that you can touch, smell all that you encounter.

#3: National Park Sallandse Heuvelrug

Another National Park, the Sallandse Heuvelrug, has a great heathland-landscape. A “heuvelrug” is Dutch for “ridge”. For Dutch standards, you have epic views of the surrounding landscape. The formation of the hilly area took place by glaciers, 150.000 years ago in the Salien during the second-last ice age.

You can start your hike at many different locations of which “Buitencentrum Sallandse Heuvelrug” and “Herberg de Pas” are very popular. From here, many different hikes of different lengths start, ranging from 2 till 18 km. In the park you can find a very beautiful building, called “Palthe”. When the heath is flowering, the view is especially great.

Although not during the flowing of heath period, in this region they still have a tradition of playing the Midwinter horn. It is a horn of 1.5 m and it can produce 8 notes. They play it from the beginning of Advent to Epiphany. It is a national heritage tradition of the Netherlands.

Midwinter horn – a local tradition in the east of the Netherlands
Below you find some examples of beautiful routes along the heathlands:
  • Woeste Route Sprengenberg (17,74 km), start point: Sprengenberg.
  • Hiking route De Sprengenberg (De Sallandse Heuvelrug) (5,63 km), start point: Grafheuvels.
  • Notselerbergwandeling (4 km), starting point: Buitencentrum Sallandse Heuvelrug
  • Holterbergwandeling (4 km), starting point: Dagrecreatieterrein Holterberg
  • Numendalwandeling (4 km), starting point: Dagcamping Holten
  • Eelerbergwandeling (5 km), starting point: Dagcamping Eelerberg
  • Wolfsslenkwandeling (5 km), starting point: Steunpunt Holterweg
  • Geologische wandeling (6 km), starting point: Buitencentrum Sallandse Heuvelrug
  • Twilhaarwandeling (8,5 km), starting point: Buitencentrum Sallandse Heuvelrug
  • Koningsbeltwandeling (13 km), starting point: Buitencentrum Sallandse Heuvelrug

You can find more detailed information about the routes on the site of “Natuurmonumenten” or “Staatsbosbeheer“.

Other heathlands in the Netherlands

Are you looking for heathlands in other areas of the Netherlands? Then have a look at our selection of diffrent heathlands in the Netherlands:

Next to large heathlands, you can find many small heathlands. For instance, we went to Ommen and found a small heathland gem. The heathland was located on a small hill. Here, nature managers constructed a tall lookout, which provides you with a great view.

If the heath is not flowering, it is still worthwhile to visit these parks. They are generally open and you can find many special birds, snakes and lizards. In winter, after a heavy snow, the landscape looks spectacular.

Are you looking for other off-the-beaten track destinations in the Netherlands, which are close to the sea? Then check out our post of Schiermonnikoog or the Marker Wadden.

Which is your favourite heathland location in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!

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