Trip to Europe Day 8 – De Groote Peel

Trip to Europe Day 8 – De Groote Peel
Listen to this article

We woke up to the sound of rain – the first rain we have had on our trip. We had planned to go to The Peel (De Groote Peel Nationaal Park), so we donned our coats and Ria took us out there.

De Peel is a region in the southeast of the Netherlands. It straddles the border between North Brabant and Limburg. The region is best known for the extraction of peat for fuel, which had been done since the Middle Ages (but isn’t done anymore).

An area that has remained partly untouched by the peat-cutting was turned into a national park. It is one of the most bird-rich areas in Western Europe (my worst fear) but we didn’t see too many (and none up too close).

The terrain is varied with inaccessible peat swamps, lakes, heath land and sand ridges. The present swamp and some of the lakes were created by the cutting of peat.

Where the National Park is now, is only a couple of kilometres from the house my mum was born in.

Ulick and I went for a 2 kilometre walk around the site – which as actually more like 3.5 kilometres. We saw some goats which was nice.

People already lived in the Peel region during the Stone Age, with the discovery of items made of bone and wood showing that the inhabitants mainly lived off hunting and fishing.

Peat had been cut since the 13th century and used as fuel, with most of it removed from the area between 1850-1930. It was an important fuel source as wood was a scarcity.

After our visit to De Groote Peel, we headed back into Asten for a visit to the catholic church – Heilige Maria Presentatiekerk

The Catholic Church dates back to 1479 in Asten, however this church as built in 1901. Its tower is 75 metres tall, and contains a carillon of 57 bells – with the bells cast by the local Asten bell foundry.

It is a beautiful church, and I was glad to see it. It would have been the place of my grandparent’s funerals (Grandpa’s parents) in 1950 and 1963.

We returned to Ria’s for lunch, and then put in a load of washing so we can continue our journey tomorrow with a fresh set of clothes in our rucksacks.

Another delicious meal prepared by Ria, including Salmon with white asparagus and a dessert vanilla vla (custard) with speculaas in it ?


Sara Napier