Roaming through nature and purple gold

If you think of a hilly landscape in the Netherlands, Limburg may be the first place that comes to mind. There are plenty of hills in the east of the country, however. The Sallandse Heuvelrug has a lovely hilly landscape shaped by glaciers some 150,000 years ago. Knowing that makes visiting Sallandse Heuvelrug National Park even more special I think (Ellen van den Doel, photographer).

Sallandse Heuvelrug-1-Ellen van den Doel (20)
Foto: Ellen van den Doel
Sallandse Heuvelrug-1-Ellen van den Doel (17)
Foto: Ellen van den Doel

Purple gold

Every season has its charm here but August may be the most special of all. It is when the heather is in flower. Imagine the gently undulating hills with a fantastic purple glow. Photographers also call it purple gold; it makes for a fairytale-like ambiance. Hikers, cyclists, mountain bikers and horse riders enjoy the natural beauty, each in their own way and at their own pace. It is nice that there are paved and unpaved paths in this region so everyone can use what they prefer. There is a viewing point at Noetselerberg, where I go hiking with my camera at the ready. At night, I go for a walk in the area of the Holterberg, encountering a few cyclists of fellow hikers. I enjoy the peace and quiet. Far off, a thunderstorm is rumbling, painting stunning structures in the sky.

Layered landscape disappearing in the distance

Something that shouldn’t be missed when visiting this region is a hike to the viewing point on Lemelerberg. I found it incredibly impressive. A varied landscape through a forest, on narrow meandering paths, ends in a vast heath field with the odd tree here and there. It is stunning, particularly at dawn when a fog drifts in the lower areas. The landscape consists of layers disappearing into nothing. If the sun manages to shine through for a moment, it is even more beautiful. I am not the only one enjoying the view. There are several photographers, as well as a bunch or runners who stop at the top for a quick shot with their smartphones.

Impressive history

After all of the natural beauty, it is time for a visit to the Canadian military cemetery, one of the biggest military cemeteries in the Netherlands. Here you’ll find 1394 graves of mainly Canadians who died in WWII. The place exudes a serene quiet, the flowers are beautiful and the cemetery is carefully maintained. It makes for a stark contrast with what those young men must have gone through at the time. How did they die? They sacrificed their lives for our freedom. It is an impressive place to walk around and learn more about this piece of history.

An airy afternoon on the Regge

Time for something less heavy. The Regge is a river meandering through a landscape which is fantastic for cycling and walking but even more fun to enjoy from the water, weather permitting. You can rent a variety of boats, such as electric boats and canoes, which are very popular. Boating through the green landscape, enjoying the peace and quiet, and watching the beauty of nature. Bring a nice lunch and a wonderful day is assured.

Sallandse Heuvelrug-1-Ellen van den Doel (14)
Foto: Ellen van den Doel

The stories of the landscape

Clearly this area has a lot of history, which is emphasized on a walk through the Borkeld with its burial mounds like bumps in the landscape. They may not look very exciting but their story and history is all the more so. These burial mounds are 4000 to 6000 years old.

You can easily spend a week here

Clearly a few days are too short to explore this region properly. You can easily spend a week here, with so much to see and so many ways to see it. I’m putting this place on my to-do list to revisit in the future, perhaps in fall when the fall colors will make it look very different again.