Drents Friese Wold

The Drents Frisian Woods, indicated as a National Park in 2000, are with their 6100 hectares one of the largest nature reserves of The Netherlands. The territory is characterized by forests, heath and sand dunes. Nature-lovers can enjoy the excellent cycle-paths, horse- en walking-tours to their heartís content.

Nature and landscape

The varied scenery of the Drents Friese Wold, with its woods, plains and surrounding small-scale agriculture was formed through history by the brooks that flow here, sand dispersions and agricultural activities in the area. The park is an important habitat for many animals and particular kinds of vegetation and is being maintained by several nature organizations.

Farmers who let their sheep graze on the heath plains held the landscape open. Where the heath was harvested after some time drift-sands were formed, like the Kale Duinen near Appelscha.

Most of the woods were planted throughout the 19th and 20th century, when the surrounding towns and land were threatened by the drifts-sands. The forests are today one of the main features of the Drents Friese Wold. The differences in height of the old dunes make a varied landscape.

On places where human intervention took place in the landscape, for instance with the cultivation of woods and the harvesting of peat the land has been returned to nature the last years. This causes more variation and is good news to the various animal species and plants that live here. The supervisors of the area strive for a more natural character of the woods.

Culture and settlements

For the first of habitation of the Drents Frisian Wold we must draw back to the Iron Age. Since then various cultures have lived here. One who thinks of Drenthe, thinks of hunebedden (ancient grave structures) and these are indeed present in the region, like at Diever and Vledder.

Typical for this region are the so-called esdorpen. Many towns arose from settlements consisting of a few farms next to each other. In an esdorp, most of the times located near streaming water, farmers held their cows and sheep and grew their crops together. One of the characterizing things of an esdorp that we can still recognize today is the brink, a field where the cattle used to be collected and trees were planted as a building material. In later times, when the town developed around the brink, it also became a place for markets and fairs.


A visit to one of the visitor centers, in Appelscha and Diever, is a good start before exploring the region. The visitor centre in Appelscha is owned by Staatsbosbeheer and offers information and an active acquaintance with the area. In Diever you can find the information centre in the VVV-office.

Holiday and recreation in the Drents Friese Wold

Kaart van NederlandNoord-HollandZuid-HollandZeelandFrieslandNoord-BrabantFlevolandGroningenDrentheUtrechtOverijsselLimburgGelderland