The Hondsrugpad (Netherlands) was declared Hiking Route of the Year 2022 during the online ‘Kick-off of the new cycling and hiking season’. The online event was an initiative of the Fiets en Wandelbeurs and took place on April 9 on Hicleholidays.com, the site that offers active holidays.
The route was chosen from a shortlist of five which were still in the running for the ‘best hiking route of the Benelux’ trophy. The other nominees were the Biesboschpad (Netherlands), Dutch Mountain Trail (Netherlands), La Lesse et La Lomme par les GR (Belgium) and Ons Kloosterpad (Netherlands).
Link between geoparks
The Hondsrugpad (166 km) is the Dutch part of the INTERREG-project Hondsrugpad-Hünenweg (325 km) that links the Hondsrug and TERRA.Vita (Germany) geoparks. It runs from Groningen to Meppen, just over the German border and goes onwards to Osnabrück. The route runs across old pathways, through vast woodlands, heaths, sand drifts and crop fields, past village greens and ‘Hunebedden’, megalithic tombs that are a 5000-year-old testament to earlier peoples. It also traverses the impressive border-crossing peat bogs that show how Drenthe would have looked in prehistoric times.
Combination of the perfect route signage, the great variety of landscapes along the way, the concise route description (in the form of a roadbook of sorts), the large portion of unsurfaced roads and the balanced mix of nature and culture, were the deciding factors for the jury to choose the Hondsrugpad as winner for this year.
Fiets en Wandelbeurs
The contest to find the Hiking Route of the Year, is an initiative of the Fiets en Wandelbeurs, to encourage and stimulate the laying-out of qualitatively good routes. Just as in 2021, the actual live Fair could not go ahead in Ghent and Utrecht, in 2022 because of the Covid pandemic. As an alternative, the organisation opted for an online Kick-off with a programme of readings, master classes and the presentation of the awards for Hiking Route and the Cycle Route of the Year.