A stream in an ancient landscape of heathland, meadows, unpaved roads and small villages where time stands still, that is National Park De Drentsche Aa. A quiet and varied area, where you can enjoy cycling and walking. With enviable farms, nice terraces and friendly people.

We have set ourselves the goal of visiting the 21 National Parks of the Netherlands within a year. Here you can read all about the parks we allready visited. Drentsche Aa is one of them!

Typical…. National Park De Drentsche Aa

This National Park covers a large area, a stream landscape with esdorpen and many archaeological finds. As it looked a hundred, two hundred or more ago. The emphasis is on streams and grasslands. The streams that flow here are allowed to run their course. For example, the bank here recedes and grows back further on. Agricultural management consists of mowing, haymaking and sods and is still done as it used to be. Special plants and animals grow here. For example, we see the Broad Orchis, a plant that used to be found everywhere in the wet meadows. Now this plant is much less common because the soil is less wet due to drainage.

Incidentally, the stream the Drentsche Aa does not exist, the brooks or loop, deep, stream or Aa as the brooks are called here in Drenthe, are named after the nearest village. We walk along the Anloosdiep.

In the area you will find many Esdorpen, an Esdorp has a meadow in the middle of the village where these trees are around. Food used to be grown here. There are also many Saxon farms to be found. These are farms with the house at the front and the part with the stables on each side at the back.

There are several gateways where you can start your walk or bike ride, such as in Tynaarlo (Wedbroeken), Anloo and Deurze. Here you will find information. In addition to walking and cycling in this beautiful National Park, you can also visit the Hunebedcentrum, the Boomkroonpad, the Drents Museum or the Westerbork Memorial Center in this

My humble opinion

This National Park has positively surprised me. I already knew that Drenthe is one of our most beautiful provinces, but I didn’t know this area very well. The National Park is vast and wonderful for cycling and walking. Beautiful villages, a pleasant quiet atmosphere. The landscape is extremely varied, then again through a forest, then again over the heath, through an Esdorp or along the meadows. A different view every time. Lovely cooling forests and many interesting sights.

I like to come across a special dolmen during a walk or to pick up a piece of history in a village or at a mill. And that happens to you constantly in this environment! The only downside is that you rarely walk or cycle along the streams. It may be a coincidence that our trips didn’t pass directly by, but I thought that was a bit of a shame. If you walk or cycle in a stream landscape, you also want to see those streams frequently! But the rest of the landscape more than made up for it, so next time we will look for the streams again.

Our accommodation

During our visit to the National Park we slept at the nature camping area Landgoed Mariahoeve in Papenvoort. This campsite is located south of the National Park. I was drawn in by the beautiful photos of the terrain. And it is also a very nice area to stand. A large forest with scattered spots under the trees. No fixed demarcated places. There are picnic tables here and there and you can light a fire everywhere. You can also easily hang a hammock or tarp here between the trees. Ideal place you would think.

But….the plumbing is downright bad. There are three sanitary buildings spread over the huge site, so you always have to walk a bit (you have to take that into account with small children). They don’t smell fresh and are old. They are no longer of this time. The new owners announce that they are going to renew it, but that is of little use to us now.

In addition, we found it a pity that the main road can still be heard at the place where we were standing. You are in the middle of the forest and you hear the cars. Unfortunately. Further on the site you have much less noise pollution. So if you can, wait a little longer with a visit (so that the sanitary facilities are renewed) and find a spot far from the road. Or find a campsite within the National Park, that is of course also possible!

The route

The first day we made a bike ride from the campsite of about 42 kilometers and the second day a walk from Anloo.
The cycling tour is based on the cycling tour of the ANWB, which I have adapted slightly. We started in Papenvoort, drove north via Others. After Anloo to the Strubben Kniphorst Bosch. Then to Schipborch, Zeegse, Oudemolen and Taarlo. Via Baarloërveld and Baalo back to Rolde.
Dairy in Anloo

In Anloo you can sit on a terrace, but you can also get a nice ice cream at the Melktap. Delicious! They sell milk, buttermilk, curd and kefir and tasty ice creams. Anloo is a typical Esdorp, with beautiful farms.

Strubben Kniphorst Bosch

The Strubben Kniphorst Bosch is so named because the winding oaks are called strubben. They can get very wide. These strubs are created by harvesting wood or eating young shoots by, for example, sheep. Gerrit Kniphorst was the owner who reclaimed this area. There are several dolmens and burial mounds in the area. There is also a flock of sheep in the area that we encounter on the moors.

Bike paths

The bike paths here are attractive. Every now and then you drive along the public road, but just as often you cycle right through nature and enjoy the landscape around you. It is a nicely varied area. Like between Zeegse and Oudemolen.
We come across several stork nests. In Taarlo we see the boy sitting well. That calls for a photo stop! What lovely birds they are!


The Balloërveld is a heath area in the middle of the National Park. You can cycle past it, but also through it. We choose the latter. It is elevated and here and there you will find some difference in level, in the form of sand drifts, which makes it extra attractive. We pass a water and are surprised to find it in this area.

The Balloërveld has been inhabited for a long time, there are traces from the Middle Ages but also from the Iron and Stone Age. It is special to realize that people lived here so long ago.

Via Rolde we return to the natural camping site. Closer to the campsite you can also enjoy a nice walk. The Gasselterveld, among others, is an attractive area. This is not part of the National Park.

The hiking route

The next day we go hiking from Anloo, we more or less combine two routes of Staatsbosbeheer. The first runs through the Strubben Kniphorst Bosch and is 7 km and the second along the Anlooërdiep (11 km). These routes can be found on the website of Staatsbosbeheer. You can also find the forester’s trail here, which starts in Zeegse. This walk is 20 km and partly goes through the same area.

We start in Anloo, where there is an entrance gate. Here you can park and find information. The walking route is indicated with yellow/blue posts, but because we have made our own route, in Route.nl, we do not follow it completely.

That means that we are already wrong just outside Anloo. Fortunately, we quickly find the path again.

Strolling through the woods and over the heath

Strubben Kniphorst Bosch is a beautiful and varied area. There are a number of burial mounds and dolmens. You walk on narrow paths and it is wonderfully quiet.
In an unguarded moment I bruise my ankle over a tree root. Painful! I walk on but my ankle hurts all afternoon.
We have lunch on the open heathland. It’s lovely. There are cows and sheep that keep the vegetation short. We see many scurrying birds and loudly croaking frogs in the pools.

The second part through the Strubben Kniphorst Bosch, after the open heath, is the most beautiful. Here you can see the strubben well, some are very wide.

Stream, loop, or diep?

We cross the Borgweg and arrive at the Schipborg Estate. The wide path is quite boring and we decide to walk closer to the water. Here is a narrower path that follows the Schipborgse Diep and Oudemolensediep. This part is really enjoyable! Nice in the shade under the trees and an exciting path.

Gasterse Dunes

Back on the Schipborgerweg, a cart track, we soon arrive at the Gasterse Duinen. Here we take a break. It’s a hot day and the sun is shining brightly. We enjoy the view and walk across the dunes.

Swampy meadows at the Anlooërdiep

We continue walking through the swampy meadows. This part of the walk is more open. Here we see the Broad Orchid. A special orchid species that has disappeared in many places because the water level is regulated by means of ditches.

We are now near the Anlooërdiep, but we can’t see the stream anywhere. That’s too bad. The area is beautiful, but we walk a lot along meadows with fences. At the last minute we see a deer in one of the meadows. Beautiful!

Through the village we walk back to the parking lot.