From the Wadden Sea to Castle Vorden – Pieterpad long-distance hike part 1

Hiking Collection by Pauline van der Waal

The Pieterpad is perhaps the most well-known long-distance walk in the Netherlands. Over 26 stages, you hike 500 km (310 miles) from Pieterburen in Groningen to Mount Saint Peter, after which the route is named, in southern Limburg. Of course, you can walk the entire Pieterpad in one go or choose just a few stages and walk part of the route.

The individual stages range in length from 15 to 22 km (9.3 to 13.6 miles), with the occasional shorter or longer distance thrown in. All of the start and finish points can be reached by public transport so you don't have to pick up your car at the end of your hike.

This Collection covers the first part of the Pieterpad. It starts on the Wadden coast in Northern Groningen, leads through Groningen city centre, and ends in Vorden. On the way, you walk through Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel, and Gelderland. The landscape changes from wide and flat farmland to hilly heathland and forests. In addition to beautiful nature, you also visit various villages and towns along the way. You’ll find something to eat and drink on each stage, but it’s still wise to bring your own snacks.

Each year, around 40,000 hikers take to the Pieterpad, hiking one or more stages. The lion's share of the route runs in the classic direction, i.e. from north to south. But, of course, you can walk it in the opposite direction. The Pieterpad is accessible year-round.

The route is clearly marked with red and white signs the entire way. However, you cross a number of other long-distance trails en route, so make sure to follow the correct signs.

As every stage ends in a town or village, you can choose to travel home from there or to return to where you parked your car. There are a number of hotels, B&B's, and campsites along the route. However, it is wise to book them in advance, especially during high season in the summer. In the smaller villages, you won’t find a huge choice.

This Collection covers part one of the Pieterpad – stages 1 to 13. The remaining stages can be found in part 2, here: komoot.nl/collection/1034566/pieterpad-etappes-deel-2

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Intermediate
    02:35
    6.39 mi
    2.5 mph
    25 ft
    25 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Before you start with the official Pieterpad, you can take a walk from Pieterburen as a warm-up. If you arrive in North Groningen the day before you actually start, it is certainly nice to take this walk to the Wadden coast.This route is therefore not part of the official Pieterpad and is also a shorter walk than the rest of the stages. It is therefore not a marked route.You can use navigation to make sure you don't get lost, but the roads in the North Groningen country are as straightforward as can be, which makes getting lost practically impossible. Moreover, the part of the route towards the coast uses the Nederlands Kustpad, the longest walking path in the Netherlands. So you can follow those signs in the beginning. When you arrive at the dike, it is important to turn left and not follow the signs, because then you will end up in Germany.The work of art the Iron Wadloper is worth mentioning. This statue used to be in the center of Pieterburen, but it was secretly moved to this place in 2008 as part of a New Year's stunt. Because the mudflat now has such a beautiful view of the mudflats, he has never been returned to its old place.

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    Intermediate
    03:00
    7.37 mi
    2.5 mph
    75 ft
    50 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The landscape from Pieterburen is wide and open, with a very fertile sea clay bottom. The sea deposited this clay here. It was a Wadden region that was flooded at very high tide; with every flood it added a layer. The region is also called "The High Country". Transport was over water, over channels created by the action of ebb and flow.People lived on "wierden", these are refuge mountains at high tide. Entire villages are built on it. The dikes along the sea have been high and safe since 1880. Eenrum is the first characteristic mound village on your way to the south. You mainly see arable farming and large farms.The first stage runs to Winsum, which is a twin-mound village with Obergum.

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  • Difficult
    05:30
    13.5 mi
    2.5 mph
    100 ft
    100 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The landscape from Pieterburen is wide and open, with a very fertile sea clay bottom. The sea deposited this clay here. It was a Wadden region that was flooded at very high tide; with every flood it added a layer. The region is also called "The High Country". Transport was over water, over channels created by the action of ebb and flow.People lived on "wierden", these are refuge mountains at high tide. Entire villages are built on it. The dikes along the sea have been high and safe since 1880. Eenrum is the first characteristic mound village on your way to the south. You mainly see arable farming and large farms.The first stage runs to Winsum, which is a twin-mound village with Obergum.

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    Difficult
    05:21
    13.1 mi
    2.5 mph
    150 ft
    150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Pieterpad runs out of the city along the Noord-Willemskanaal. The winding road is the dike along the Drentse A. Here it runs together with the canal. At Haren you walk along the edge of an urban area on the border of 'higher and lower' and drier and wetter land. Beyond Haren you walk on the first dirt roads. This is where the landscape of the sandy soils begins. The sandy soils are the oldest inhabited landscapes in our country. On your way to Zuidlaren you pass two locations with hunebeds, the oldest traces of habitation in the Netherlands. Characteristic are coniferous woods and a moor peat lake. The architectural style of farms is changing, you sometimes see thatched roofs and the farms are much smaller than "above" Groningen.Close to Zuidlaren you walk between fields, the essence of a historic agricultural system. The brinks of Zuidlaren were part of it.

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    Intermediate
    04:27
    10.9 mi
    2.4 mph
    175 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The fourth stage of the Pieterpad starts next to the church of Zuidlaren, where the third stage has ended. Today there are 17.5 kilometers on the program, so you have more time to take a break or take a look around you. Before we visit the countryside again, you first walk past 'Dennenoord', the well-known psychiatric hospital in Zuidlaren.The hospital used to be known under the name De Vereeniging for the Christian Care of Insane and Nervous Sufferers in the Netherlands. Just stand on it. A number of interesting books have been published about Dennenoord. Worth putting in your backpack. Before Dennenoord was opened in 1895, there were only "insane asylums". Here the idea was first suggested that the mentally ill should be cared for and nursed. Dennenoord was a self-sufficient community. It was a small village with lots of greenery, cattle, a bakery, a butcher and even its own cemetery.When you leave Zuidlaren, you walk towards the Drentsche Aa, formerly the source of clean water for the city of Groningen. You walk through farmland and through the brook valley of the Aa. This is a historically rich and important place. The stream valley has the best preserved village landscape in Western Europe and many prehistoric monuments, such as ancient burial mounds, hunebeds and gallows mountains.This stage is a walk through typical Drenthe landscape. Blown up dunes, a hunebed near Gasteren, small farming villages. The last part is the heathland area of the Balloërveld. With a bit of luck you will see the flock of sheep that keeps the heather an open area here. The end point is in Rolde, whose church tower can be seen a few kilometers earlier. There are a few B & Bs in Rolde, or overnight at Camping De Weyert.

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    Intermediate
    04:34
    11.1 mi
    2.4 mph
    200 ft
    175 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    It is time for the fifth stage of the Pieterpad. You start in the village of Rolde, practically next to the church. From here you first follow a part of the former railway line. Despite the fact that the rails were largely removed in 1977, you can still recognize the route of the track in the landscape.A little further you walk into the stream valley of the Drentsche Aa. The stream runs a total of about 28 kilometers through Groningen and Drenthe and is considered the only stream in the Netherlands that has largely retained its original natural course.The part of the Aa is called the Anderse Diep here. You see endless meadows around you where large herds of cows graze. A little further, the grassland turns into vast forests and you walk in the beautiful greenery. These forests have been planted on the heathlands that were originally here. You regularly come across an old swampy heather along the way. Sheep graze on patches of heather along the way to ensure that the area remains open and does not turn into forest. During this walk you will also come across dolmens, typical of Drenthe for visitors.The fifth stage of the Pieterpad ends in the tiny village of Schoonloo. The village is surrounded by three different forests.Do you want to stay overnight? Book your accommodation in advance, as the offer is limited.

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    Difficult
    06:06
    14.9 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The sixth stage of the Pieterpad starts in Schoonloo. With a length of 24 kilometers, this stage is the longest on part one of the Pieterpad. Also, make sure you don't encounter any villages or towns along the way, making it smart to bring plenty of food and drink for a break along the way.Schoonloo is almost entirely surrounded by forest and it is therefore not surprising that the first part of your walk is through the woods. The forests in the region have been developed. About a hundred years ago there was a lot of unemployment in our country in general, and in this region in particular. The creation of these forests was therefore a job creation project. The heather that was originally here was dug up by human hands to then plant trees. Many stones were excavated with the digging. These stones and boulders are also called flints and have been incorporated into forest roads. These roads are also called flint roads.The route runs through Boswachterij Sleenerzand, which consists of peat and wet heather, interrupted by fens and lakes. Some areas of heather on the route were previously plowed and turned into fields.About halfway you cross the Oranjekanaal, 44 kilometers long and dug between 1852 and 1858. After the canal, the path leads through the forest. When you come out of the forest and see the fields around you, you can already see the church tower of beautiful Sleen in the distance, the end point of this stage.There are a number of cute Bed & Breakfasts in Sleen.

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    Difficult
    05:27
    13.4 mi
    2.5 mph
    100 ft
    125 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Sleen is a beautiful village; old farms have been converted into impressive houses. From Sleen you walk south into Drenthe. There used to be an inaccessible peat bog here. The path follows old peat canals such as the Verlengde Hoogeveensevaart. Peat ships brought the dried peat to the cities as fuel.From Dalerveen you walk through a 'cleared' land on the way to Coevorden. For centuries this was a strong fortified town in the vast swamp to guard and defend the borders of the country. In Coevorden, only a few traces of this military past can be recognized in the compact center.

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    Intermediate
    04:51
    11.9 mi
    2.5 mph
    125 ft
    125 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The walker experiences special transitions in the landscape between Coevorden and Gramsbergen. First there are still typical farms of the sandy soils with large trees. Then you walk through an environment where water predominates. Canals and the Overijsselse Vecht form a complicated junction of waterways with locks at the Haandrik. Gramsbergen is the first old center of Overijssel on your trip. The Vecht flows in wide bends towards Hardenberg and is never far away from the path.

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    Difficult
    05:18
    13.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    175 ft
    200 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage shows a lot of nice variety. From Hardenberg the route continues through the Vechtdal. The river was straightened around 1900. To Rheeze you walk along dammed bends, pools of the "old" Vecht. Rheeze is a picturesque village. After this the route runs over a high bank of the tamed Vecht. This formerly desolate land, "onland", is now mostly forest with straight dirt roads; that makes good progress. You cross the Vecht via a dam between Stegeren and the beautiful Junne. You walk through wooded drifting dunes along the somewhat higher south bank. Sometimes you look out over the slightly lower meadows in the floodplains along the river. You reach Ommen, a tourist junction, on a rural road.

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    Difficult
    05:26
    13.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    475 ft
    475 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 10 of the Pieterpad is one with many highlights. Even literally, in this case. From Ommen you leave in a southerly direction until you reach the hamlet of Besthmen. You can see the landscape change from Dutch flat to hilly. Especially when you climb the Lookout Tower Besthmenerberg. This 18 meter high steel watchtower gives you a beautiful 360 degree view of the area.If you continue on the road you will notice that the road slowly but surely starts to rise. You reach the highest point of this route and of the Sallandse Heuvelrug: the Archemerberg of 77.9 meters.
    After this "mountain" you keep going up and down through the rolling landscape. Also stop at the Dikke Steen. This is a huge boulder that came here due to the pushing up ice during the Ice Age. A unique look into history.
    After Lemele you cross the Overijssels Kanaal and walk along country roads and finally the forest to Hellendoorn. You have completed the tenth stage of the Pieterpad. You will find a number of B & Bs around Hellendoorn directly on the Pieterpad.

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    Intermediate
    04:10
    9.66 mi
    2.3 mph
    475 ft
    450 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The eleventh stage of the Pieterpad starts in Hellendoorn. Perhaps best known for the amusement park, but the village itself is also nice. There are beautiful farms and an ancient church. It is not big, so if you have started your walk for today, you will walk out of Hellendoorn.With about 15.5 kilometers on the schedule today, you'll have plenty of time to feast your eyes. Especially the beautiful heathland along the way is a good place for a break or to stroll around.Farmland, small villages, heather and forests alternate along the way, which makes this stage very varied. Especially in the heathlands it is clearly visible that the landscape here is slightly hilly. This is due to the drifting ice in the Ice Age, which pushed out soil and stones in front of it.You wind up to the crest of the Sallandse Heuvelrug and the height differences make the view phenomenal. From the Haarlerberg you descend slowly but surely again over the old roads and wooded hills. Enjoy the peace and quiet on this last stretch of the Holterberg to Holten, today's end point.

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    Intermediate
    03:49
    9.38 mi
    2.5 mph
    100 ft
    125 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After Holten there is one last fold of the Sallandse Heuvelrug, the Beuseberg. What follows is flat farmland and unexpected beauty of the beech avenues along the impressive Schipbeek. After this you walk almost unnoticed into the Achterhoek on long quiet roads through farmland. You can call the old Landgoed Verwolde a pearl. It is full of surprising variety of farms, meadows and forests with huge old trees, a hiking paradise. At Laren you come back to the normal world.

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    Intermediate
    03:27
    8.43 mi
    2.4 mph
    100 ft
    100 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This thirteenth stage is the last of the first and northern part of the Pieterpad. You leave the beautiful town of Laren and as soon as you walk outside the built-up area, you walk into the farmland.On the way you walk from one beautiful estate to another beautiful country estate. You also walk for a while through undeveloped natural area towards Vorden. Vorden is known as the "castle village". You will find eight castles in Vorden, although it should be noted that castle here is another name for an old country house. So don't expect castles with battlements and knights on horseback!A perfect place for a photo is the bronze plaque in Vorden in honor of the founders of the Pieterpad. This is where the Pieterpad was officially opened in 1983, on the initiative of two women who believed that there were too few long-distance hiking trails in the Netherlands. They came up with the idea by walking from the hometown of Bertje (Groningen) to that of Toos (Tilburg). They thought it would be a nice idea to be able to walk all the way from the north to the south of our country via an official route. The monument at Vorden Castle with the footprints of Toos and Bertje reminds of this.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    14
  • Distance
    156 mi
  • Duration
    64:01 h
  • Elevation
    2,500 ft

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