Counting sheep | ANWB

6 ways to walk where you can face a flock of sheep

It is a special experience to meet a flock of sheep with a shepherd while you are walking. Such a chat with a shepherd, surrounded by a cloud of woolly ruminants, is unforgettable. Especially if there is a lovable sheep among them who sticks his nose to your knees to raise him. But besides being cute, flocks of sheep are also very useful. After all, they maintain health through their “maintenance work”. You can only run into such a herd on these walking routes.

They’re great lawn mowers: sheep. In many places in the Netherlands, weeds, pipe straw, and delicate seedlings are hidden between the sheep’s jaws, so that the heather bushes can show off their purple wigs in August. There is no problem that sheep occasionally take a bite of the grass itself, so it stimulates the growth of shrubs. This way they actually ensure that health stays young for a little longer. And it’s not just plants that benefit from this maintenance. Butterflies, lizards, and birds such as stonecrops and Woodlark also benefit from it. These animal species need nutrient-poor semi-open areas and dry areas such as desert lands as breeding and habitat.

Cultural Heritage

In Holland there are still about a hundred flocks of sheep that stand on their feet from sunrise to sunset, accompanied by a shepherd and one or two dogs. These are often frontier creatures: hardworking, loyal animals that can float well. The flocks are outside all year round, except for the time of gestation, when you are in the sheepfold. Shepherds know exactly what part of health needs maintenance and whether there is enough food for the flock. They monitor the health of the animals, supervise the lambs, and often take the time to chat with the hikers. Challenging task: wander in nature all day. Even with rain, snow or storm! Unfortunately, many flocks of sheep suffer from government cuts, which makes it difficult for them to make ends meet and survive. This is unfortunate, because “shoveler flocks” (flocks with a shepherd) are part of the cultural heritage of the Netherlands.

Route 1 – Through the history of Drenthe

12.5 km Havilt, Drenthe

A walk in an authentic part of Drenthe. Along the dolmens, burial mounds, mounds and monuments. They tell the story of more than 12,000 years of habitation. But Drenthe wouldn’t be Drenthe without flocks of sheep, shepherds and beautiful nature.
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Route 2 – Rolling Hills

12 km, Nijverdal, Overijssel

Whoever wants to walk through the rolling hills does not have to go to England. Overijssel has the Sallandse Heuvelrug. Powerful and rolling landscapes, hot sandy trails meander over the vast swamp. bewitching! In the coming years, serious work will be done here to return nature to its best condition. And the Tuilhar sheep herd is also working hard on this.

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Route 3 – Peace and Space

17 km, Dwingeloo, Drenthe

Fifty years ago, Dwingelderveld was the perfect location for a radio telescope: a quietness that was essential to space exploration. Now the area has been declared a national park and is still wonderfully quiet. From Dwingeloo you walk into the woods at Lheederzand and on the south side you look at the largest wasteland in the Netherlands, Dwingeloose Heide. You will likely see one of two flocks of sheep grazing here!
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Route 4 – New Nature Maasduinen

16.5 km Well, Limburg

This long walk takes you through De Maasduinen National Park, a 4,500-hectare nature reserve in northern Limburg between the River Maas and the German border: a forest, open plains with wilderness lands, quicksands, villas and the large Reindersmeer. From the sheepfold, the flock crosses the swamp every day.

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Road 5 – Jebelin

10.5 km, Lemele, Overijssel

A wonderful trail on unpaved hiking trails through one of the most beautiful nature reserves in the Vecht Valley: the Archemer & Lemelerberg Nature Reserve. Forest, wilderness, sandy plains, juniper bushes and hills with a view. And with a bit of luck, you’ll also come across a shepherd with a cloud of healthy Veluwe sheep in its wake.

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Route 6 – Kootwijk راديو Radio Tour

12.5 km, Hoog Buurlo, Gelderland

This brisk walk takes you up the undulating Hoog Buurlose Heide with beautiful views for quite some time. Sometimes a flock of sheep roams here. In an ancient beech forest reserve, Hoog Buurlo, the most rustic little village in the Netherlands, awaits. A few kilometers away, the Kootwijk Radio “cathedral” appears, a beautiful and memorable building in a spacious setting.

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