The Utrecht Hill Ridge is a series of hills that were created during the last glacial period. The southern part of it is protected as the Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park, one of the 21 national parks in the Netherlands. The park consists of mixed forests, moorlands and large estates.
A nearly 2000 year old town constructed as a trading post for a nearby Roman castellum.
|De Bilt |
Home of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and all-round lovely town.
Home of the Ouwehands Dierenpark zoo, which houses the giant panda's loaned from China, as well as the Grebbeberg, a large military cemetery.
|Utrechtse Heuvelrug |
Covering a large part of the region, Utrechtse Heuvelrug contains the National Park of the same name.
A town tucked up to Gelderland that once (2000) was the cycling city of the nation.
|Wijk bij Duurstede |
Town along the Amsterdam-Rijn Kanaal and Nederrijn, known nationally for its Viking history.
Located between Utrecht and Amersfoort, the municipality is best known for the Pyramid of Austerlitz and the Zeist Castle.
The Utrecht Hill Ridge (Dutch: "Utrechtse Heuvelrug") is a region, municipality and national park in the east of Utrecht. It includes such villages as De Bilt, Bilthoven, Zeist, Austerlitz, Maarn, Maarsbergen, Driebergen-Rijsenburg, Doorn, Leersum, Amerongen, Elst and Rhenen. The region is filled with castles and summer residences built in the early nineteenth century and before.
- Pyramide van Austerlitz - Pyramid constructed in honour of Napoléon's victory at the battle of Austerlitz in the modern day Czech Republic, the 36 m (118 ft) tall pyramid, was constructed in 27 days by a general under Napoléon's 18.000-men strong army encamped in Austerlitz. Ninety years after completion, an obelisk was constructed at the top of the pyramid.
- Ouwehands Dierenpark - Perhaps the most visited zoo in the Netherlands as of late. Ouwehands features, among many other animals, the two giant panda's loaned to the Netherlands by China.
- Grebbeberg Military War Cemetery - Militair Ereveld Grebbeberg is a military war cemetery where 800 people that died during the Nazi-German invasion of May 1940, 799 of which being military personnel, one being civilian. The cemetery is built on the Grebbeberg, where more than half of the buried soldiers died during the Battle of the Grebbeberg.
Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park
The Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park is the region's most important attraction. Access to the park is free. No permits are required to enter.
The forests have originally been planted as production forests, but most forests have now developed into interesting ecosystems. With the aging of the woods and specific management a more varied forest appears, both in species as in spatial structure. Dead trees are the habitat and food source of insects, birds, ferns and mushrooms. Indigenous tree species like birch, beech and oak are gaining terrain on the coniferous forests. Birds of prey like the hawk and buzzard are common and in spots ravens can be heard. Woodpeckers, bats, squirrels and pine martens live in cavities of old trees. Roe deer and foxes are permanent residents of the park and the population of badgers is growing steadily. In the herb layer of the forests blueberry and Sorrel can be found. Holly, May lilly and Common Cow-wheat is found the wetter parts of the forests. On the edges of the forests near the flood planes wood anemone, Spindle, Sand leek and blue violets grow.
Besides forests, the national park contains many heaths, fens and shifting sands. Next to the Leersumse Plassen (Pools of Leersum) are wet heaths with heather, wolf's-foot clubmoss, sundew and marsh gentian. In the Kombos (Basin Forest) near Maarsbergen you can find Bog Myrtle with its fragrant buds. On the heaths Woodlarks can be spotted. On the poor soils sand lizards, blind-worms and specialized insects live. At the edges of the shifting sand lichens, sand sedge and bunt grass is found. The fens, wet heaths, pools and the former decoy in the Kombos house amphibians and reptiles. Eight of the fifteen species that live in the Netherlands live in these areas, among them grass snake and natterjack.
Next to the castle of Amerongen are some former cultivated lands that are being grazed. A large part of this area is now transformed to wild river nature. Grazing by horses and oxen and the occasional floods form this terrain. A seepage swamp was created here in 2000. Lately a spectacular bird richness has appeared here. Bluethroat, shoveler, reed warbler and snipe can be spotted. In the western part partridge and corncrake breed. Occasionally an osprey can be seen.
The good way to explore the Utrecht Hill Ridge is by bike. There are many cycle routes in the area, such as:
- Lage Vuursche Royal Cycle Route. Royal palaces and pancakes in the woods. Distance: 20 km.
|Routes through Utrecht Hill Ridge|
|Den Haag ← Gouda ← Utrecht ←||W E||→ Ede → Arnhem → Oberhausen|
|Almere ← Hilversum ←||N Z||→ Nieuwegein → Gorinchem → Breda|
|Utrecht ←||W N||→ Amersfoort → Zwolle → Groningen|
|Den Helder ← Amsterdam ←||N E||→ Arnhem → Nijmegen|
|Utrecht ←||W E||→ Arnhem → Nijmegen|
|(Amsterdam) ← Breukelen ← Utrecht ←||N S||→ Veenendaal → Rhenen|
|Utrecht ←||W N||→ Amersfoort → Zwolle|