Over a total of 26 stages, the Pieterpad long-distance hiking trail leads from Groningen in the far north of the Netherlands to Limburg in the south. In this Collection, we guide you through part two – stages 14 to 26 – of the route. You can find the previous stages in part 1, here: komoot.nl/collection/1034511/pieterpad-etappes-deel-1.
Opened in 1983, the Pieterpad owes its name to the start and finish point of the route – the village of Pieterburen and Mount Saint Peter. It is probably the most well-known long-distance hike in the Netherlands.
Part 2 of the Pieterpad kicks off at stage 14 from the town of Vorden to the village of Zelhem.
Although Vorden is situated halfway along the route, it’s an important milestone on the route as this is where the Pieterpad was officially opened. Today, you can visit a monument to Toos Goorhuis and Bertje Jens, two women who founded the Pieterpad. At the time, they felt that there were too few long-distance paths in the Netherlands and decided to change this themselves.
From Vorden, you walk through Gelderland, Noord-Brabant, and Limburg, sometimes even crossing into Germany. Along the way, you walk through typical Dutch landscapes of rivers, forests, and heathland, and also visit cities, villages, and tiny hamlets.
Each stage is on average 15 to 22 km (9.3 to 13.6 miles) long, sometimes a bit longer or shorter. You can always reach the beginning and end of the route by public transport, so you can park your car at the endpoint and travel back to the start or vice versa. Alternatively, you can leave your car at home and come by train or bus.
If you want to walk several stages, you can spend the night in a hotel, B&B, or campsite along the route. Keep in mind that there may be less on offer, especially in the smaller villages. It’s a good idea to choose and reserve your accommodation in advance.
If you choose to walk the entire Pieterpad, it will take you 26 days following these stages. Of course, you can also just walk a section of the route and complete it over several long weekends to complete your stamp card. If you don’t fancy walking the whole route, then you can just choose your favourite stage and go for a lovely day of walking.
The fourteenth stage of the Pieterpad starts at Castle Vorden. Besides being a beautiful country house and particularly photogenic, Vorden Castle is also an important place for the Pieterpad. In 1983 the Pieterpad was officially opened at this location.The bronze plaque at the estate is a reminder of this. The Pieterpad was conceived and developed between 1978 and 1980 by two elderly ladies, Toos Goorhuis-Tjalsma and Bertje Jens. Prints of the walking shoes of both ladies have been immortalized in the bronze artwork. There is no better way to honor the creators of this iconic long-distance trail!Vorden Castle is not the only estate in this area. There are a total of eight castles around Vorden. By the way, don't be fooled and don't expect knights, moats and drawbridges. Here, "castle" is simply the name for a large country house.Most of the route you walk through rural areas, although it is occasionally interspersed with trees. After Landgoed en Huis 't Zelle you walk into the vast forest of Landgoed' t Zand. Once you have left the forest, it is not far anymore. Another piece of farmland before you end today's stage in Zelhem.
Zelhem is a real country town, everything you need is there. Beyond the factory where milk is processed, you walk through an environment that is strongly focused on dairy farming. This is the farmland of this time with meadows, farms spread out and seas from corn to hamlet IJzevoorde next to Landgoed Slangenburg. The path runs along the moat of the imposing castle and then through a surprisingly narrow avenue with curves and tall tall oak trees. At the edge of the estate, the route leads to the underpass of the A18 motorway. After crossing the neighborhood railway, the path descends into the valley of the Oude IJssel. This is an old bed of the Rhine. You cross the river itself at a lock-with-weir complex, next to a water treatment plant. On mainly paved country roads you walk to Braamt at the foot of the hills of Montferland.
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From Braamt the path first starts to rise slightly and once in the forest you go up considerably against the flanks of the hills of the Bergherbos. This landscape has been pushed up by huge glaciers in the Ice Ages. A long walk, up and down through varied forest; beautiful paths, sometimes old smuggling roads. On the Hulzenberg you can view the forest and the surrounding area from a viewing tower. After the A12 motorway you walk almost unnoticed in Germany to Hoch Elten on the edge of the moraine. The view over the Rhine valley is magnificent on a clear day. The river valley here is called the Gelderse Poort. Now first a tough descent to the valley floor. At Spijk you walk on the dike next to the river with classic views. Through Tolkamer, a former river toll and customs village, the path takes you past activities that belong to a river; a shipyard, a refuge, a sand extraction lake - now a recreation area - next to a brick factory and clay pits with "new nature". Halfway along a quiet dike is the boarding point for the ferry to Millingen. You cross into the Netherlands below the major rivers.
From Millingen you walk into "The Netherlands-below-the-Major-Rivers".The river here forms a sharp boundary between different regions and different cultures. The first kilometers run through the floodplains of the Rhine. In earlier times the river could flow freely at high tide. The dikes were still weak and the residents built refuge hills, mounds. The older farms are on mounds, with the stables there.The neighboring states also drew national borders along the Rhine. The Pieterpad runs right along this border. The boundary markers are drawn on the maps in the guide. At Zyfflich you cross the border into Germany. Since 1993, the border has been open to people and goods traffic. Many Dutch people now live there. Traditionally, there have been many cross-border family connections.On the south side of the Rhine valley you reach the foot of the moraine, back in the Netherlands. The climb up the Duivelsberg is quite steep. In Roman times, 2000 years ago, there were sentries on these hills. From above you could, as now, oversee and monitor the entire Rhine valley.The hills of Nijmegen and Groesbeek were formed in an ice age 150,000 years ago. You reach Groesbeek through beautiful forests, past fields and meadows and over hill crests with panoramic views. You will pass places, memorial sites of the Battle of Arnhem at the end of the Second World War, 1944, 1945.
You leave Groesbeek through the forest of the Wolfsberg. Where the Pieterpad leaves the forest, you look out over flat fields. Many gliders, "gliders" with allied soldiers landed here during WWII. A model of it is slightly off the route. Between the fields you reach the beautiful Zevendal. It is wonderful to walk. Then the path climbs up hills again, through the varied forest from the Sint Jansberg to the Sint Maartenshoeve; there you have a great view. After this, the path descends along a ravine and a few ponds to the base of the hills; this is already the province of Limburg. In front of you is the river plain of a former river valley of the Rhine, now the Niers. Beyond Milsbeek you cross the Niers, near the place where it flows into the Maas. Between Niers and Maas you reach the nice center of Gennep through the back door.
The Pieterpad follows the dike of the Niers from Gennep. Then it continues in a southerly direction through former heaths and drifting dunes, such as the Gennepse Heide. This former NATO site has now been "returned" to nature. This entire area is intended for recreation with a large campsite and a bungalow park. After the crossing of the A72 motorway to Germany, a fascinating landscape follows, full of variety with the special nature reserve Het Quin, beautiful heathland. At Afferden you cross the Maas and you are in a distant corner of the province of Noord-Brabant. The landscape of the Maasheggen is unique. The hedges, also wicker hedges, were planted before the use of barbed wire at the end of the 19th century. Now the area up to Vierlingsbeek is a precious landscape monument. Especially in spring, when hawthorn blooms, meadows full of flowers and birds can be heard everywhere, you will have lasting memories here.
The Pieterpad remains west of the Maas until Grubbenvorst. The river formed the landscape. After Vierlingsbeek the route follows the Molenbeek, a former Maas bed.After the hamlet of Holthees, the provincial border with Limburg is at Smakt. This is a well-known pilgrimage site around the Saint Joseph Chapel. The path then runs alongside the north-south railway line and bends into the nature of the Boschhuizerbergen with a large population of juniper berries. This reserve is adjacent to Landgoed Geysteren with a water mill and the Sint Willibrordus chapel. Then the path again follows an old Maas bed to Wanssum, a "harbor town" with container transhipment on the Maas.After this, villages string together from Meerlo along the Grote Molenbeek to Tienray. Through the forest you reach Swolgen, where peace prevails.
From Swolgen you walk into the forest. At first they are overgrown drifting dunes with heather remnants and then a bit lower you walk along another old Maasarm. Over platforms along still water and inaccessible swampy forests; a flat jungle where the beaver now has a nice place to live. You follow the former river bend to the meadows around Zwaanenheike. It is completely rural again with tree and shrub nurseries and especially roses. This is the rose region of our country with Lottum as the center. In the direction of Grubbenvorst you walk between asparagus fields. Grubbenvorst is the center of Limburg's "white gold" with annual competitions asparagus disputes. You cross the Maas here to Velden and then, surprisingly, you walk through the floodplains close to the river to the center of Venlo. There is a dry alternative at high tide in the Maas.
Venlo owes its existence to its location on the Maas. The city was the transfer point for goods that were transported over the poorly navigable Maas to Maastricht and Liège with other, smaller ships than those that sailed from Holland to Venlo. Now a new marina determines the face of the city. The center of Venlo, in 1944 on the Maas front between Gennep and Susteren, suffered badly from war violence.The walker stays on the east bank of the Maas to Maastricht. From Venlo the route runs right up to Swalmen and along the border with Germany. In the beginning quite high on the deposits of the Rhine. In Tegelen, there have always been sand and clay pits for brickyards. The Maas created its own valley next to the Rhine. The steep edge is the border. Slowly walk down to the Maas valley and you stay close to the border, also through the German forest. Inhabited world is remote. Once at the Swalm you walk along this river to Swalmen, where it ends in the Maas.
For the time being the route runs through landscape formed by the Maas. Next to Swalmen is the proud Castle Hillenraedt. Everything here has to do with this castle, including the village of Boukoul and the farm Zuidewijk Spick, a little further on. Here the Pieterpad follows the old river courses of the Maas again to the place where the path crosses the disused railway line the "Iron Rhine". Roermond is far away due to the construction of highways. Now the route via Melick seeks the valley of the winding Rur to Sint Odiliënberg with the high abbey; what a beautiful picture. You reach Montfort through forests on up river dunes and the valley of the Vlootbeek. Along the way you will pass places where traces from Roman times have been found, including coin treasures. Montfort was hit by a bombing raid in 1944. The mass grave in the cemetery is testimony to this. The reconstruction church with the separate tower is built in a sober style from Maas stones.
The ruin of Montfort Castle was once a mighty fortress on the edge of a large swamp. This was mined in the last century. In addition to intensive agriculture, nature development now has more opportunities. This is a region where many well-known vegetables, leeks, carrots, beans, are grown "in the open ground". On mostly unpaved field roads you walk through quiet small villages along Susteren and the IJzerenbos. Close by is the place where the Netherlands is the narrowest. The Pieterpad diverts here to Germany; suddenly everything is quiet. Through Isenbruch you reach Millen and you are back in the Netherlands. Walk along the Roode Beek and further along the Geleenbeek to the center of Sittard, still surrounded by an old rampart.
The Pieterpad starts to rise from the Medieval Market in Sittard. Beyond the ring road, the climb to the Kollenberg starts seven footfalls up to the Saint Rosa Chapel. On top of the plateau there is a beautiful view of the German hills. Then it goes down considerably and up again steeply to Windraak. Then the steep slopes of the Wanenberg and the Puthberg lie in front of you. They are not long climbs, and there are beautiful views from every high point. This is South Limburg! Beyond Spaubeek, hamlet of Hegge, a grubbe, actually a dry mountain stream, awaits to the plateau at Schimmert. Descending again, you walk through Terstraten, the most painted half-timbered village in Limburg, and then on a special path along the deep-lying Platsbeek and a pasture path of the "Angry Mother". Schimmert's water tower is like a beacon. Past the impressive farm Bockhof you descend into the valley of the Ravensbeek next to a sloping forest to Strabeek, a part of Valkenburg; there is plenty to do.
From Strabeek and Valkenburg the Pieterpad follows the Geul along a very beautiful "wild" stretch. The river can run its course; banks collapse, trees fall over in the water. The walkway along the river is elevated with the current far below you. Then again you walk low, next to the water, followed by a climb up, Berg. Just before Terblijt you can see an open abandoned deep marl quarry, quarry Blom; what a hole! The long descent through the Bemelergrubbe takes you past small marl caves and along the foot of the Bemelerberg. From above you have a view over the Maasdal and Maastricht.You will soon be walking through the streets of the outskirts of Maastricht. The old town starts past the station and the medieval town lies over the old bridge on the west bank of the Maas.Only a few more kilometers, up the last mountain past Fort Sint-Pieter to the top! There is the end point of the Pieterpad; Congrats! This is a great achievement: walking through your own country! In addition to the performance, the reward is also the impressive image of the quarry and the GR5 that passes through it. Who knows, may have arisen earlier or the desire to continue, to go further, into that wide walking world arises here.