National Park The Groote Peel

45 minuten rijden

The ‘Groote Peel’ National Park is located on the border of Limburg and North Brabant, in the triangle formed by Meijel, Asten, and Nederweert. Standing in the center of the ‘Groote Peel’, you will notice the church towers of these villages. The area covers 1500 hectares and is one of the few remaining pieces of the vast peat bog that once formed the border between Brabant and Limburg.

Nowadays, it’s an internationally renowned nature reserve, particularly famous for its birdlife. The expansive and water-rich landscape serves as a reminder of the past. Once a place to avoid, now you can wander through it to your heart’s content.

Exploring the ‘Peel’ on foot

There is only one way to explore the ‘Peel’, and that is with sturdy, waterproof hiking boots. The vast majority of the peat bog was excavated by peat cutters and sold as the ‘gold of the Peel.’ Traces of this activity can still be seen everywhere.

Once an impenetrable swamp, now it’s a landscape of water, heathlands, sand ridges, birch trees, and open areas covered with heather. It’s a paradise for nature lovers and hikers. The tranquility of the ‘Groote Peel’ attracts over a hundred species of breeding birds and migratory birds, such as the trumpeting crane. But be careful, don’t just look up. Beneath the surface of the peat moss, there’s sometimes a sizable body of water hiding.

The ‘Groote Peel’ is unlike any other area. It’s not a forest, nor heathland, nor polder. ‘Peel’ means marshy place. And indeed, it’s soggy here. Due to a layer of clay, water couldn’t drain properly. Water and marsh plants hardly decomposed. This led to the formation of peat, which served as the foundation for the abundant growth of sphagnum moss.

Formation of the landscape

Once, the ‘Peel’ was a vast, almost impassable raised bog. However, most of it disappeared as peat – ‘the gold of De Peel’ – into ovens and stoves. The ‘Deurnse Peel’, the ‘Mariapeel’, and the ‘Groote Peel’ remained. The area is internationally recognized as a ‘wetland’. It is of great importance for various marsh and water birds. Since 1993, the ‘Groote Peel’ has been a national park.

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