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In the northeastern region of the Netherlands, wedged between Germany and Friesland, Groningen, and Overijssel, lies Drenthe. It is the most sparsely populated province in the Netherlands with various options to experience the natural beauty and recreational trips. There are three national parks with several preserved natural reserves and Forestiers. You are very close to Nature from your cottage in Drenthe.
Spread over the province, you will also find 52 large structures. These unique structures, made of gigantic boulders, used to serve as burial chambers and are part of the province of Drenthe. The buildings are built between 3350 - 3050 BC, consisting of many supporting stones, and In addition to the 52 boulders in Drenthe, there are also more buildings in the Groningen province. One of them is situated in a forest near the Noordlaren town, and the other one is Muzeeaquarium in Delfzijl town. Together they form the 54 boulders of the Netherlands.
The natural gems of Drenthe
The forests in the Drents-Friese are mainly cultivated and dense, consisting of a massive part of conifers. The places with barren land like Berkenheuvel and the northern Kale Duinen are vast Scots pine and craw berry forests. The areas with craw berries are pretty unique. In regions with richer soil, there are oak-beech forests with rich nutrient values. Some coniferous forest species, like creeping lady's tresses, little evergreen, twinflower, and stiff club moss, can be found in the coniferous forestry of Smilde and Appelscha. In places with slightly richer soil, species like the May lily, multi-flowered Solomon's seal, common holly, arctic starflower, hellebore, and oak fern flourish quickly. The Appelscha forestry also has a rich supply of mushrooms.
In the damp places in heathlands, bell heather, bog gentian, common cotton grass, shore weed, bog asphodel, spotted heath orchids, oblong and round-leaved sundew can be found. Heathers, woodrush, harebell, wild thyme, lousewort, and the rare arnica Montana grow in higher sand grounds. Moreover, three different club moss types: Marsh club moss, running club moss, and cypress spurge. The shifting sands are famous for plants like pearlwort spurrey, shepherd's cress, and different moss and lichens types.
Round fens, heather species, bell heather, crowberry, common heather are found, and fen berry species and plants like many-stalked spike-rush, cranberry, lavender heather, bladder worth, and sometimes, bur-reed are also seen in woods. There is a solitary place in the Smilde forestry where the bog bilberry grows, and it is a scarce species found in the Netherlands.
The diversity in landscape types and plant growth has enriched the animal realm. Mainly birds are found here. Forest birds, grassland birds, and swamp birds are flying here and there every time.
Heath, fens, shifting sands, and well-developed forests appear to be significant for bird habitat. In open sand areas, the woodlark and the tawny pipit can be easily found. The rare nightjar is also seen many times in the transition area towards the forests. Waders like the black-tailed godwit, redshank love these areas during migration, and these species sometimes also breed in these areas. Rough terrains with rugged bushes serve as the breeding grounds for the very rare red-backed shrike. Open water fens are used for breeding by the black tern, the black-necked grebe, the little grebe, the common teal, and others, while the marsh harrier uses the waterside area for breeding; that's why they are abundant there. The extensive forests are an excellent habitat for prey, owls, honey buzzard, common buzzard, hawk, sparrow hawk, and barn owl.
Moreover, five different types of woodpeckers have been spotted in the forests too. Other birds like Red Poll, hawfinch, nightingale, and crossbill are also found in the woods. The forests are of great value for many typical birds like the coal tit, flycatcher, greenfinch warbler. During migration, the Drents-Friese Wold is inhibited by several bird species. The bean goose and birds of prey like the hen harrier and the peregrine falcon love this place.
Fun things to do in Drenthe
Despite the relatively small area of Drenthe, there is a clear difference in types of landscapes. The middle of the province, the 'old Drenthe', is characterized by green villages, heathlands and brook valleys where sheep herds are still regularly seen. The lower parts of the province are formed by peat bogs, which were mined for peat extraction until the middle of the last century. Animals that feel at home on the Drenthe heath include the ring snake, peat butterfly, salamander, hawk, Scottish highlander and roe deer.
In Drenthe you won't find many big cities. Small, cozy (green) villages are abundant. The largest and most noteworthy cities in the province are Assen, Emmen, Hoogeveen and Meppel. Here you can visit the TT-circuit, the Drents Museum, the Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen and - for lovers of history and history - the Remembrance Centre at Camp Westerbork. For lovers of cycling and hiking there is also plenty to do in Drenthe. Throughout the province are well paved routes, also for mountain bikers and riders.
In the 19th century many canals were built in Drenthe, because the rivers and streams were too narrow for the canal and for the removal of peat. Nowadays these canals are mainly used for fishing and for canoeing and boating. Sometimes this is even possible directly from your holiday home or holiday park! Going out with the children? Then visit a sheepfold or climb the lookout towers in one of the three national parks.
What you can't miss in Drenthe
Despite the small area of Drenthe, there is a massive difference in types of picturesque sights. The central region of the province 'Old Drenthe' is famous for green villages, heathlands, and brook valleys, where sheep herds are seen very often. The lower parts of the province are formed by peat bogs, which were mined for peat extraction in the last century's more significant part. Animals inhabited on the Drenthe heath include the ring snake, peat butterfly, hawks, Scottish highlander, and roe deer.
Many canals were also built in Drenthe, mainly for the removal of peat. Nowadays, these canals are used primarily for fishing, canoeing, and boating. With no less than three National Parks, the province of Drenthe is the epitome of natural beauty. There is a lot to explore and visualize.
Drents-Friese Wold National Park
This untouched nature reserve is situated on the border of two provinces: Drenthe and Friesland. Forests, heathlands, and drifting sand areas cover a large part of the area. Because of this wide variety of landscape, many animal species have now made the Drents-Friese their home. Examples are the stone marten, the vulture, the raven, the viviparous lizard, and the viper. In Appelscha and Diever there is an information center for tourists which provides a good idea from where to explore the Drents-Friese Wold, and you can find all sorts of information about cycling routes and places of you love, such as a secluded place from WW2.
Dwingelderveld National Park
As the Dwingelderveld is the largest wet heathland region in West Europe and centuries-old cart trails can be found, it was declared a Natura 2000 area. Various grazers are used to keep the vegetation in check in the huge heathland and around many fens. Many sheep herds, traditional Dutch cows, and impressive Scottish highlanders can also be seen more often. Like the Drents-Friese Wold, the Dwingelderveld National Park also has a tourist center of entertaining visitors from all over the world. This center is situated near Ruinen and is governed by Natuurmonumenten.
Drentsche Aa National Park
This third largest National Park in the Netherlands is probably the most notable one in terms of scenery. This stunning destination is not all about Nature and about a well-known agricultural region with beautiful life quality. Because of the preserved historical value of the landscape in this area, the protection of Nature and culture are given equal attention.