On top of the mountain
The walk guides you past steep slopes over the moraine foothills, with mouth-watering views. Dark pine forests are interspersed with lush deciduous trees and sprawling heathland. If you’re lucky, you might spot the rare black grouse. In spring, the males -called greycocks - pull out all the stops to impress the hens, as if they know their survival depends on it. Stop and admire the Rietslenk: the slope of this valley is crammed with ancient and rare juniper shrubs. These berries were essential around 1600 for distillates on board VOC ships.
A trip to Canada
In the middle of all this overwhelming natural splendour, you suddenly find yourself in Canada. Thanks to a gift from the Dutch State, the Canadian Cemetery with almost 1400 war graves is officially Canadian territory. Stop and stand for a while, you will probably feel overwhelmed. Most of these boys were 19 or 20 years old and far, far away from home when they died for our freedom.
For brisk hikers, there is a great day tour of about 14 km. Or you could choose to walk the 16 km that make up leg 11 of the Pieterpad (a Dutch long-distance walking route from north to south). It starts in Hellendoorn and ends at the train station in Holten. There is also a two-day route from Nijverdal or Holten to Olst. Too ambitious? There are plenty more short(er) routes, all amazing and breath-taking. Most of these routes start on the Holterberg, wIth car parking provided.
The Swarte Ruijter is nestled on one of the flanks of the Holterberg. It is a thatched villa with relaxing open-air terraces, unique wines and bitterballen (traditional Dutch round meat ragout croquettes). In winter, there is Woody’s nearby, Complete with animal skins and crackling open fire.