There is a big nature area in the East of the Netherlands that is called ‘De Veluwe’. It is about 1000 square Kilometres and it is an official Nature Reserve, protected by law and so nature can pretty much do as she pleases. The official website of the Veluwe proudly boasts about the Big Five you can encounter there: wild boar, deer, stag, fox and Scottish Highlander! Indeed a fearsome five to look out for. What I love about this nature area is the diversity – sand dunes, heather fields, woods and moors – all to be found there and roam around in. The Netherlands is not a big country, so having this major nature reserve is very special. I realised that when I recently moved back from the UK to be near my parents who live in Epe, Gelderland, a tourist town on the Veluwe. They have lived there for a long time and I have visited often, but I never took the time to really explore the area and when I did, I was pleasantly surprised.
I went on a bike ride on the moors and discovered a magical little lake, called Pluizenmeer. I was captivated by the energy and it was so peaceful being there. Then there is the ‘Schaapskooi’ (Sheeps Barn) and if you are lucky, you can meet the local shepherd herding his flock of sheep walking the moors. Not far from the moors, is a place called The Sprengen – which are small streams of water flowing through the forests which were dug especially for the paper mills in the 16th and 17th century. But my most exciting discovery, are the burial mounds that are located on the Veluwe. There are in total 700 burial mounds on the Veluwe alone, 400 in the area of Epe and 4000 in total inthe Netherlands. These burial mounds were created between 5000 and 2500 years B.C. I had moved to the UK to be near ancient sacred sites, but it seems that they are also right here in the Netherlands.
Park De Hoge Veluwe
My lovely daughter treated me not long ago to a stay in a Wellness Lodge in one of the holiday parks on the Veluwe. We stayed near the village of Otterlo, which has one of the entrances to a special park called De Hoge Veluwe (The High Veluwe). It was a fantastic opportunity to visit and so we went on the free white bikes that this park offers and explored. You do have to pay an entrance fee to get into the park, either by car, bike or just walking. It is worth it though – so much to see and not just nature.
The famous ‘Kröller-Müller Museum’ and the ‘Jachthuis St. Hubertus ‘ are two historical buildings that will impress you. De Jachthuis (Hunting Lodge) was designed by a famous Dutch architect Berlage for a couple called Kröller-Müller who set up this cultural heritage Park in the beginning 1900’s. The museum nowadays has an impressive collection of world famous artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso Mondriaan and more. All in all, a worthwhile visit.
The Veluwe does not only offer lots of nature, but it also has quaint little villages and it is surrounded by ‘Hanzesteden‘. They are old trading towns that were connected in the Middle Ages by the (German based) ‘Hanze Agreement’ to ensure power and prestige for trading in their area. These towns are Hattem, Elburg, Doesburg, Zutphen, Hasselt, Hardewijk, Kampen, Zwolle and Deventer. All of them have beautiful historical centres and walking there takes you back in time. We went to visit Doesburg, one of the smaller Hanzesteden outside of the Veluwe, and walked around in this lovely historical town. It made me feel like a real tourist in my own country.
These are just a few examples of what the Veluwe has to offer – many places and sites that are beautiful and peaceful – something we need in our busy lives. Enjoy!