Celebrating 40 years of the Pieterpad – The Netherlands’ most popular long-distance walking trail

NOS News

  • Sophie Feenstra

    interior editor

  • Susan DeVries

    Editor online

  • Sophie Feenstra

    interior editor

  • Susan DeVries

    Editor online

Exactly 40 years old today, but still far from dusty: the more than 500 kilometers long Pieterpad, which runs from Pieterburen in Groningen to Sint-Pietersberg in Maastricht, is still widely used. Tens of thousands of people take the plunge every year, often in stages. This includes more and more young people: “The path is more fun than an all-inclusive holiday”.

Hiking friends Toos Goorhuis-Tjalsma and Bertje Jens described the route of the Pieterpad between 1978 and 1983 out of dissatisfaction with the lack of long-distance hiking trails in the Netherlands.

“I saw the path emerge at my mother’s kitchen table,” says Maarten Goorhuis. “At that time I hated walking, as teenagers often do.” It was therefore not self-evident that he would later become director of the Pieterpad Foundation. “But when I started walking around the age of eighteen, it turned out to be addictive.”

Together with 40 volunteers, he has been taking care of the route for years. The original path was 460 kilometers, so a lot has been added in those 40 years. “The walking path moves with the changes in the environment and the landscape,” explains Goorhuis.

Not everyone understands that it should be possible to walk on unpaved paths as much as possible. “The worst thing people can say to me is: then you just walk a bit on the cycle path, don’t you?”

Not just gray and bald

Goorhuis estimates that millions of walkers have walked the path over the past 40 years. With corona, that number has exploded: sales of the Pieterpad guides doubled.

Sometimes it was almost impossible to book an overnight stay along the route. “We were often completely full at that time, and often still are,” says Yvonne te Braake, who has been running a B&B along the path in Braamt in Gelderland with her husband Willem for thirteen years.

“After the corona period, the public has become much more diverse. We no longer see only gray and bald walkers. Young couples who see it as a honeymoon or two boys who were actually going to Albania suddenly came along. stayed happy.”

Unique experience

The three friends Wils (26), Reinier (24) and Rick (25) can also be found regularly on the Pieterpad. “We started it in corona time, but we still do it. You quickly forget an all-inclusive holiday. The walks on the Pieterpad really stay with you. You remember it better because it is a unique experience, we never expected that in the Netherlands so much nature is that is so beautiful.”

  • Private photo

    Ellen Kooiman during her trip on the Pieterpad
  • Private photo

    Rick, Wils and Reinier during a moment of rest on the Pieterpad

Maarten Goorhuis agrees that word of mouth is the cause of the path’s popularity. “We have never advertised ourselves. Walking is contagious.”

Ellen Kooiman (23) started her journey over the Pieterpad last October. A journey that she will take in stages, just like the group of friends, but then alone. “Sitting still a lot reduces my physical and mental health. Walking improves my health.”

Ellen’s girlfriends sometimes join a walk in the neighbourhood: “More people go for a walk because of me, I infect people.” She also notices that people who follow her journey on social media also go for a walk.

More than just nature

A walk on the path consists of more than walking. Like the group of friends, Ellen visits restaurants, museums and churches on the route. They often book an overnight stay along the route and plan activities in the area. “We have looked at rivers and caves. But we also often drink beers.”

Maarten Goorhuis thinks that his mother, who devised the path 40 years ago, would have thought it was fantastic that many people still use it. “She was completely overwhelmed by the success of the route at the time, she was very proud of that. If she saw that it is even more popular now than then, it would have filled her with pride.”

2023-06-04 08:56:03

#years #Pieterpad #longer #gray #bald #walkers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick