Every season has it's quality and charm in the forests of the National Parks and the private estates at its boundaries. In spring and summer some flowers and blueberries may greet you, in autumn the trees have nicely coloured leaves and you can find mushrooms, winter may find you lucky with catching some snow and icy ponds... And you can meet some wildlife, roe-deer, rabbits, foxes, buzzards and other birds.
Some forests still show there (former) plantation character with mainly pine or fir-trees, and some Douglas. Other have a semi-natural quality with beech, oak and chestnut, or resemble a (village) park, sometimes with some rare or unexpected species. Rhederoord for example was designed in English landscape style, with some special tree-groups and single special trees, for example Sequoias, Cedars and Magnolias.
A nice place for a drink is the teahouse "Koepel de Kaap", alongside the road from De Steeg to the Posbank, one of the focal points in National park Veluwezoom. All year round you can go here for a drink and a snack, though the best time is from March-September when you get a chance to sit outside. If you're lucky enough you may even get some sun in late October, as we have experienced in 2005!
The main season is the late summer, when the heather blossoms in shades of purple, usually around mid August. But also spring can be a nice time to go, with the trees in fresh green leaves and some flowering shrubs.
The athmosphere is one special feature of this place - but also the great organic food! The chef, Eric van Veluwen is starting to become a bit of a celibrity, featuring some tv-shows on special dishes and organic cooking.
He is one of the main Dutch representatives the slow food movement as well as the organic food movement, and also has written several books. Other special features are local dishes, "forgotten food" (food from the past that no longer is used and/or recipes that were "lost"), tapas, self-baked bread, special cheese (which one half of us just loves, the other ... not!). Quite a few dishes are also vegatarian, so there is choice for everyone.
And there are several crash-courses in cooking, for example tapas.
"Problem" here can be, that if you are a party of 2-5, you may have a problem getting in, when there are for example (too) few others, or already a (too) big party. So it's always wise to check in advance. Or just book there for a seminar or overnight stay with your company or private group! (see hotel tip).
Favorite Dish: The wild fowl and deer or boar dishes are great, when it's the season. Also the (Scottish, not local) salmon and Hereford beef (from a local farmer) dishes taste wonderful. Pastries, bread and other "simple dishes" for lunch or breakfast are also worth a try!
Every last sunday of the month is there is the co-called "Supersoul Club", with "soul" food and some lounge music, where you can try several small dishes at the fireplace, go for a walk or just enjoy the scenery and the athmosphere...
Going for a walk and hiking in the area of De Steeg can be anything from a leisurely walk to/from the car in heather or forest, to a day of hiking in the vast 5000 hectares of the National Park. The heather "uplands" (not higher than 100m above sealevel!) provide great views, the forest is quite varied from pine planations to semi-natural beech and oakforest, with blueberries and ferns as undergrowth.
Many cycling routes cross the National Park and the neighbouring forest and riverside landscape. Great cycling, though a bit hilly in places!
Bike rental is available in many nearby villages, for example at the nearby Rheden trainstation.
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In the forest belonging to the nearby Middachten estate, you will find one of the rare ice age relics, a single rock having been carried here from Scandinavia in the last Ice Age.
This particular one is called the Devil's stone, as it has some small round holes which resemble the imprints of (3) fingers that may have lifted it...
As the story goes, in some long gone era there was a strong competition between a priest or religious lord, living on a hill above De Steeg, and the Devil who lived in the nearby city of Doesburg.
Singing songs of praise and delivering sermons from the hill infuriated the devil, and he demanded the priest's songbook. When the priest refused to give the book, he picked up a stone from the riverside to throw at the priest. He missed - and lost his power (and disappeared) because of that.... The grateful priest decided to build a church on the location where the devil disappeared. The (high) churchtower of Doesburg still marks this spot.
Another version tells that the devil was infuriated seeing the churchtower(s) of Doesburg, so he threw the stone, and missed....