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Southeast Friesland: between Egypt and France and other beautiful places to walk

by Flitter Fever
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What can you do in the southeast of Friesland? We discovered that this relatively unknown area is dotted with beautiful nature, peace and space. Southeast Friesland turns out to be perfect for a (very affordable) long weekend or week away! Between France and Egypt walking route, Bakkeveen, Drents-Friese Wold National Park and Alde Feanen National Park… I’ll tell you more about them in this article.

It Mandefjild Natura 2000 area Bakkeveen
Natura 2000 area It Mandefjild in Bakkeveen

Friesland is best known to many people for its different language and the Elfstedentocht (traditional natural ice skating route). The 11 picturesque towns that are along this route are located in the western half of the province. This article is about the less well-known southeastern part of Friesland.

Southeast Friesland

Friesland (Fryslân) is home to no less than 4 out of the 20 national parks of The Netherlands and 12 Natura 2000 areas. We discovered Southeast Friesland from Hoornsterzwaag, which lies exactly between two National Parks, namely the Alde Feanen and the Drents-Friese Wold. Moreover, Bakkeveen is close by, where my grandparents from Enkhuizen used to go on holiday. There are numerous walking, cycling and equestrian routes in Southeast Friesland. Ideal for a combination of active, tranquility and nature.

Or discover this water-rich environment Frisian style: by boat. Have you ever heard of skûtsjesilen? A skûtsje (‘boat’) is a wooden or steel Frisian tjalk boat. In the past, this boat type was mainly used to transport manure, potatoes and other goods through the inland waterways of Friesland. Nowadays these authentic boats are mainly used for pleasure. There are also skûtsjesilen competitions (“sailing boat”) in Friesland.

And did you know that Friesland has its own horse breed? So beautiful!

Friesian horses
Friesian horses (photo credits Kobus van Leer)
Those who like sailing can enjoy themselves in Friesland
Sailing in Friesland (photo credits Aline Dassel)

Willemstad and Moscow… in Friesland!

In Friesland the names of villages and towns are often expressed in the two recognized languages: in Frisian and in Dutch. A number of municipalities in Southeast Friesland have humor. They have named a number of streets after cities or countries elsewhere in the world. In Southeast Friesland, for example, you can walk between Egypt and France in one day.

And if you want, you can also visit Moscow, Petersburg, Canada and Willemstad on the same day! Funny, right? Still a little “being abroad” feeling during the COVID-19 crisis. I would say make a nice road trip out of it! Here for instance you can find a description of a route of 68 km along these places, that you can drive by car, motorcycle or scooter.

Between Egypt and France

The walking route Between Egypt and France is highly recommended. It starts at the parking lot next to Café-Restaurant Boszicht at Bovenweg 26 (N351) in the village Nijeberkoop. When facing the road, with your back to the parking lot, turn right towards Landgoed Boschhoeve (estate). See also the brown and white ANWB route sign on the lamppost for direction indication.

The cultural-historical walk Between Egypt and France route combines young nature with old stories. You will pass the disappeared village of Middelburen, the former village street and an old cemetery with a so-called bell chair (large wooden construction with a bell). The walking route crosses France, a road between Nijeberkoop towards Elsloo. Egypt, an old road from Elsloo to Jubbega and partly new land consolidation road, crosses the estate too.

Bosch Hoeve forest Nijeberkoop Southeast Friesland
Bosch Hoeve forest path in Nijeberkoop
Rooting organic pigs at Boschhoeve Estate Nijeberkoop Southeast Friesland
Rooting organic pigs at Boschhoeve Estate

Landgoed Boschhoeve (estate) offers a great diversity, such as avenues, hedgerows, forests, heather and pools. Deer, badgers, moor frogs, the adder and the ring battle live here. The estate is approx. 300 years old and approx. 177 hectares in size, located between the river Linde and the Tjongerkanaal (canal). Cows and pigs are kept organically on the farm. Pigs roam the woods too!

The route Between Egypt and France goes through patches of forest, past farms and extensive meadows and arable land. Put on your waterproof hiking boots, as it can be quite soggy in parts, especially on or after a rainy day. Despite the ANWB signs, the route cannot be found on the ANWB website, but it can be found at RouteYou, but the signs give good direction (no app needed). The information board at Café-Restaurant Boszicht states that the route is 6.5 km (4 mi), but after measuring it turns out to be more around 8.5 km (5.3 miles).

Felida Big Cat Sanctuary

Tip: just off the walking route Between Egypt and France is also the foundation in the village of Nijeberkoop Felida Big Cat Sanctuary. Big cats are taken care of, who are traumatized and rescued abroad. Lions, tigers, etc.

As a VIP animal caretaker for a day, you can help take care of these magnificent animals for € 250. Some data available in July 2021. Just a financial donation is of course also welcome.

Tiger in Felida Big Cat Sanctuary in Nijeberkoop Southeast Friesland
Tigers in Friesland? Yep!

National Park Drents-Friese Wold

National Park Drents-Friese Wold is one of the largest forest and nature areas in The Netherlands. It is located partly in southeastern Friesland and partly in northwestern Drenthe. Personally, I think the Drents-Friese Wold is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the Netherlands, besides National Park Drentsche Aa. And that despite the rain we faced here on a Sunday afternoon in March.

The Drents-Friese Wold National Park is extremely varied. You walk through a colorful variety of landscapes. Winding sandy paths lead past woods, heather, moss, sandy dunes, fens, etc. We parked at the Outdoor center Drents-Friese Wold, west of Appelscha. In addition to the walking routes below, there are also paved cycle paths and horse trails.

Recreation in the Drents-Friese Wold National Park on a winter day
Recreation in the Drents-Friese Wold National Park on a winter day
Terwisscha walk in National Park Drents-Friese Wold Southeast Friesland
Terwisscha walk in National Park Drents-Friese Wold

Hiking trails NP Drents-Friese Wold

  • Terwisscha walk 5.6 km / 3.5 mi (white)
  • De Bult walk 6 km / 3.7 mi (red)
  • Grote bos en duin walk 11 km / 6.8 mi
  • Natte Neuzen route 7,3 km / 4.5 mi
  • Family path 2,2 km / 1.4 mi

We followed the Terwisscha walking route. Signage starts a few hundred meters from the outdoor center. For those who have more time and energy: the Terwisscha route (white) can be combined with the Kale Duinen walking route (red). There are signposts for transfer points on the route. When switching from the Terwisscha route to the Kale Duinen (Aekingerzand) walking route, the total distance will be extended to approx. 10 km (6.2 mi).

Parking, horses & dogs

You could also start the Terwisscha walk from the horse trailer parking lot at the Canada road. Or start the Kale Duinen walk from Parking Canadameer and Aekingerzand (Kale Duinen = Bald Dunes). Enough choice! For a horse ride in National Park Drents-Friese Wold, please contact Manege Recreatie Centrum Appelscha (RCA) or Ludanchelo Hoeve in Wateren. With De Reeënwissel in Hoogersmilde you can camp as well as follow horse riding classes and make trips towards the Drents-Friese Wold National Park.

Part of the area is not allowed for dogs from March 1 to September 1. This is because of the sheep that have lambs and birds that raise their litter. Dogs are not allowed in the grazing area (‘begrazingsgebied’) from March 15 to August 15. This is indicated by signs. Dog owners should walk the Natte Neuzen (Wet Noses) route. Keep at least 25 meters distance from the cows.

Frog shows the way in the Drents Friese Wold National Park family walking route
Frog shows the way in the Drents Friese Wold NP family walking route
Moss hill in Drents Friese Wold National Park Netherlands
Moss hill in Drents Friese Wold National Park

Bakkeveense duinen (dunes)

Bakkeveen is a cozy, centrally located village surrounded by nature. It is not surprising that recreationists know where to find this place. North of the village, between the streets Mjumsterwei and the Nije Drintse wei, are the Bakkefaensterdunen, Frisian for the Bakkeveense dunes.

In this beautiful nature reserve you can walk different routes:

  • Red route 3.5 km – Bakkeveense dunes
  • Blue route 1.5 km – Bakkeveense dunes (wheelchair friendly)
  • Yellow route 4.5 km – Heide fan Allardseach
  • Green route 8 km – combination of above plus the Pûperdobbe

The overall nature reserve is called It Mandefjild. An elongated Natura-2000 area, rich in heaths, forests, sandy plains and so-called dobben (pool or pond). Even on a drizzly day in March, it is a pleasure to walk around here. Although I can imagine that it must be absolutely beautiful here at the end of August, when the heather flowers beautifully purple. We were lucky enough to meet a group of Exmoor ponies though. Drenthe heath sheep also live here.

Bakkeveense dunes - walking between the heath
Bakkeveense dunes – walking between the heath
Exmoor pony near the Bakkeveense dunes It Mandefjild Friesland
Exmoor pony near the Bakkeveense dunes It Mandefjild

Parking Bakkeveense dunes

On the way to the parking lot at the sheepfold, a group of young deer crosses our way halfway the Mjumsterwei. For the red, blue and green walking routes you can also park at the southwest point of the Bakkeveense heide, on the edge of the village.

You will find another parking lot, suitable for the yellow and green routes, next to Restaurant & Camping De Drie Provinciën. This is located right on the border between Friesland and Drenthe and has been nominated for Camping of the Year 2021. On the terrace you can enjoy lunch, dinner or a refreshing drink.

If you see the words It Fryske Gea somewhere around here and think: what is that? This provincial association manages >50 nature areas in Friesland.

The Golden Hour at It Mandefjild Bakkeveen Friesland
The Golden Hour at It Mandefjild
Sunset Bakkeveense dunes It Mandefjild
Sunset Bakkeveense dunes

Guinea Pig Shelter Bakkeveen

The main location of the Stichting Cavia Opvang (Guinea Pig Shelter Foundation). Should you or your kid want a guinea pig, please don’t get one from the pet store or garden ccenter, but from a shelter like this one! My sister also gets her guinea pigs from here. The foundation also serves as a place to stay during the holidays.

National Park Alde Feanen

National Park Alde Feanen is perhaps one of the least known national parks in The Netherlands. Even if it was because many people do not know how to pronounce the name? It can’t be due to size or location; 2,300 ha (5.683 acres) in the middle of Friesland, between Leeuwarden, Heerenveen and Drachten.

In terms of location, Alde Feanen National Park may actually fall officially just a bit outside of Southeast Friesland. It’s more central Friesland. However, when you stay in Hoornsterzwaag or Bakkeveen, this is a place you don’t want to miss out on. Certainly not on a sunny day. The range of flora and fauna is more than worth it, with>100 bird species (including the white-tailed eagle) and roe deer for example. There are a number of birdwatching huts spread around the area. And many traditional windmills! Typically Dutch ehhh… Frisian.

National Park Alde Feanen Friesland
National Park Alde Feanen (photo credits Pieter Musters)

The charm of NP Alde Feanen

Alde Feanen National Park is a Natura 2000 area. Waterways and green lands alternate. In late spring and summer it turns mainly green here, in autumn and winter mainly brown with reed. At sunset you can see beautiful reflection on the water here. You can go cycling and/or walking. In the darker months it can be soggy and bleak, so adjust your clothes and footwear accordingly. Hiking options are best on the east side of the park.

On an (almost) windless, sunny day – preferably by boat, canoe, kayak or SUP – National Park Alde Feanen will conquer your heart with ease. What a hidden gem.

Earnewâld

The visitor center of the Alde Feanen National Park is located in Earnewâld. Park at the parking lot wide (it wiid). On that side of the water are also: camping, holiday park, swim beach and water playground.

Take the small ferry (or reverse) to the other side of the water. For example for a visit to one of the restaurants. Hotel Princenhof is located right on the water side and has a terrace. On this side you will also find Westerdijk and Hollema. There you can rent a (motor) boat, sloop, canoe and bicycles. And there is a small museum.

More hiking in Southeast Friesland

In addition to the before mentioned places, there is certainly more to see in Southeast Friesland and the surrounding area. For our next visit, the following hikes are still on our to-do list:

Near the Drents-Friese Wold National Park lies Appelscha. There are relatively many campsites and there is a lot to do, such as the Laco forest pool (‘bosbad’), climbing the Bosberg tower, (mini) golf, playground, etc. There are also a few nice restaurants in Appelscha (see map). And just across the border Drenthe you have the Experience Path (‘Belevingspad’) Hoogersmilde, which is fun for families.

Super cute sheep at B&B Efkesutfanhuzje in Hoornsterzwaag Southeast Friesland
Super cute sheep at B&B Efkesutfanhuzje

B&B Efkesutfanhuzje

Rarely accommodation has been such a highlight as this time in Southeast Friesland. Rain or sunshine, at B&B Efkesutfanhuzje you will be enjoying yourself. Stone holiday home with private garden and all the trimmings, fireplace on. Kitchen, living room, dining table, bathroom and two bedrooms upstairs. Unobstructed view, super cute sheep, chickens, cats and two dogs. And that for a very friendly price: € 82.50 per night excluding optional breakfast (min. 2 nights), which rate becomes lower when you stay longer. Check out rates.

Fire on, glass of wine, enjoy at Efkesutfanhuzje
Fire on, glass of wine and enjoy!
Dining table with tulips and a view at B&B Efkesutfanhuzje Hoornsterzwaag
Dining table with fresh tulips and landscape view

Monique and Jacques, originally from The Hague, are super sweet owners, who put a lot of love and attention into their B&B. They clearly want to please their guests and like to have a nice chat. Outside there are several garden furniture and the atmosphere inside feels like a warm blanket.

B&B Efkesutfanhuzje is one of the best B&Bs we have ever stayed at in The Netherlands. We will be back for sure!

Fireplace on, sheep figurines and cuddly toys, fresh tulips, fresh eggs from the chickens, muffins on a dish, chocolate Easter eggs, chilled free drinks in the fridge… You will be short on time. Minimum stay 2 nights, in high season only bookable per week (Monday to Monday).

Own piece of garden at Efkesutfanhuzje in Southeast Friesland Hoornsterzwaag
Own piece of garden at Efkesutfanhuzje
The main bedroom upstairs with a view of the sheep
The main bedroom upstairs with a view of the sheep

B&B alternative

Should B&B Efkesutfanhuzje be full on the dates of your choice, or if you are only looking for accommodation for one or a few nights during the high season, then B&B De Winkeljuffer may be an alternative option for you.

This atmospheric B&B is located in the former village bakery in Bakkeveen. 40m2 apartment with kitchen, bathroom, washing machine, dining table, sofa, two single beds, etc. And the price is very reasonable: from € 75 per night excluding breakfast.

Map Southeast Friesland

I hope that you found this article interesting and that it will inspire you to visit and explore Southeast Friesland. Between France and Egypt, Bakkeveen, Drents-Friese Wold National Park and Alde Feanen National Park, all beautiful areas where you can enjoy peace, space and nature. Feel free to leave a comment below this article, also if you have a question or additional tip. I wish you a lot of fun during your visit to Southeast Friesland!

Read more articles about The Netherlands in the Netherlands Blog Archives.

Bakkeveense dunes moss
Bakkeveense dunes moss
The Bakkeveense dunes are pretty any season
The Bakkeveense dunes are pretty any season

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Last Updated on 05/31/2021 by Flitter Fever

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