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De Deelen Nature Reserve


The De Deelen nature reserve was a peat mining area. Today the land is a mosaic of water, reed beds, patches of swamp forest and narrow strips of grassland. This wetland area is home to many species of birds. There is also unique industrial heritage here.

A century ago peat labourers shed blood, sweat and tears as they worked to strip peat from the land. Their hard work resulted in cartloads of turf for the stove. And just north of the town of Heerenveen it created a richly textured landscape, leaving a mosaic of water, reed beds, patches of swamp forest and narrow strips of grassland.   The Turf Boating Route runs through this beautiful wetland.    De Deelen is a typical peatland area. From the Middle Ages onwards, our ancestors took on the arduous task of excavating peat and creating farmland. Fascinating traces of this early human habitation are still being found to this day. Excavations show that in the early Middle Ages De Deelen was a busy centre. Production of turf on such a large-scale presumably brought trade and prosperity to the area.   The nature reserve is a recognised wetland: thousands of ducks and geese arrive here in the autumn and winter. Rare species of birds such as the black tern, the purple heron and the Western marsh harrier also make their homes in the area.    As you explore the De Deelen nature reserve you may come across a large piece of rusty machinery. This was the last peat cutting machine in Friesland and was last used in 1968. It stands several metres high and is an important piece industrial heritage.   Sail more of the Turf Boating Route...

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