It is August (2021), I am still on my holiday and the Migration birds trail cannot be missed in my hiking series. The heather season (heather in bloom) has just started and the next part of the Migration birds trail goes over the heatherlands near Hilversum! So, the choice for a hike is easily made. Today, I walk a bit over the Bussumer heide (Bussumer heatherlands), but also over the Westerheide (Western heatherlands) and the Zuiderheide (Southern heatherlands). After that, the trail goes through the forest and over the Groeneveld estate towards Baarn.

Hiking map Migration birds trail Hilversum Mediapark - Baarn
Hiking map Migration birds trail Hilversum Mediapark – Baarn

Heather, heather and more heather

From Hilversum Mediapark train station, I go to the Bussumer heatherlands via a marked approach trail to the point I stopped last time. The last time I was here, the heather looked a bit bare. Now it is beautifully in bloom. Unfortunately, it is a cloudy day. I first walk back the path I came from last time. I take many photos of the heather. What a splendour of colours! Not only the purple and pink of the heather, but also the green and yellow of the grass and even the red berries on the rowan trees make it a colourful picture. The highland cattle from last time are not around.

I am soon on the original Migration birds trail and walk across an avenue of trees with a view over the Bussumer heatherlands on the left. The forest path is brief, because the next heather region is already on its way: the Western heatherlands.

This heather looks different immediately. On the Bussumer heatherlands, there are still a few trees here and there. On the Western heatherlands, there are very little trees, with the exception of a solitary birch. This gives a great panoramic view. I sit down on a bench and let the surroundings sink in.

I cross the heatherlands via a wide sandy path. In the distance, I do see the highland cattle, but way too far away to take a photograph of them. The heather is coming to an end. There are more trees here as well. I turn right around a corner and walk towards a busy road. What a world of difference. In the verge, I see more purple, this time from cute little flowers.

I cross the road and dive into the forest. The trail markings are now on trees, so I have to be very careful no to miss one. And of course, it soon goes wrong. Where have the markings gone? I must have overlooked a tree again. I do know that I am in the right direction: I am at the Southern heatherlands.

This heathland is quite a different sight from the previous two. The heather shrubs are now mixed with sandy plains and groups of trees and bushes. It’s nice that the heatherlands are so different, which adds a lot of variety to the hike.

In a group of trees, I see a bird hopping from branch to branch. Finally, a bird! I have seen few of them today. It is a jay.

Eurasian jay
The Eurasian jay is a crow-like bird. Its body is beige-brown, it has black and white on the hind wings and tail, a black beard stripe and striking blue feathers on the side. The jay is mostly found in the forest, but nowadays also in urban areas. They are very good at imitating other birds and sounds. The jay nests from mid-April to June and has one clutch of 5 to 7 eggs.

Eurasian jay

Source (in Dutch): Vogelbescherming

First I walk across the heathlands and I have found the markings again. Just before some sand hills I turn left. Further on is a camping site and there I turn right into the forest.


Mushrooms in the Bluk forest

I am in the Bluk forest. It’s lovely to walk in the forest. After three times heather, the purple becomes a bit monotonous. Now it is green’s turn. I walk along wide beech avenues, but also along narrow sandy paths.

As often, I do not go very fast through the forest. This time I do not look up constantly to discover birds. As I said, there are few birds to be seen, with the exception of a few great tits. I do look at the ground a lot, because I find beautiful mushrooms everywhere. A different species every time.

At the end of a wide forest path, I come to the public road. I come across another mushroom, it’s a huge turkey tails mushroom. In Dutch they are called fairy benches. I can almost sit on it myself!

Really big turkey tails mushroom
Really big turkey tails mushroom

I cross the road, then turn left on the cycle path and go under an overpass. I am back in the forest. Unfortunately, I don’t see many mushrooms or birds anymore. But this way I can hurry up for once.


Groeneveld estate and castle

Not much later, I cross another road and I am at Groeneveld Estate. Here, I have a completely different view. I look out over fields and meadows; a piece of polder between the forest. There is clearly a horse ranch nearby, there are lots of horses.

In the woods and on the heatherlands, I met an occasional hiker or cyclist, but on the Groeneveld estate, it is a busy place. I see cyclists and hikers everywhere, with or without a dog. Landgoed Groeneveld is a park-like woodland (or a woodland park, you name it) with lots of landscaped greenery in the English landscape style. There are different kinds of trees and shrubs, and ponds with nice bridges. You can see from the signs that there are different trails on the estate.

Groeneveld Castle is the centre point of the estate. I first walk along the side of Groeneveld Castle and then along the front. The castle is open for visits and houses a Grand café. There is also a country fair every 2nd Sunday of the month (between March and September). For more information see the website of Groeneveld Castle.

I won’t linger too long at the castle; I have to walk on to Baarn. Not only the castle, but also the ice cellar and the oxen stable are beautiful buildings on the estate.

Ox stable on Groeneveld estate
Ox stable on Groeneveld estate

After a short distance along a field, I am back in the forest again. This time it is the Baarnse forest. The finish line is not far away. This forest has denser foliage, making it a little darker. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any birds or mushrooms.

Below is the checklist of birds I encountered today. There were only ten of them! That is not a lot.

Birds seen between Hilversum Mediapark and Baarn
✔ Barn swallow✔ Common wood pigeon✔ European robin
✔ Carrion crow✔ Eurasian jay✔ Great tit
✔ Common blackbird✔ Eurasian magpie✔ House martin
✔ Common starling

For a while, the path goes along a train track and a little further, I go to the other side of the track via a foot and bicycle bridge. This part of the Migration birds trail is now finished. The trail goes to the right, but I turn left towards the railway station of Baarn. Next time, a nice walk in the woods is on the menu.


Final thoughts

Despite the cloudy day, this part of the Migrations birds trail was super. It is a diverse hike through three heatherland regions, each one slightly different, through the forest and over a beautiful estate. The only drawback is that the civilised world is never far away. After every piece of nature reserve, there is a busy road that you have to cross.

Especially in August/September, when the heather is in bloom, it is a great hike.

Trail: Section 8 and Section 9 Long distance trail 2: Migration birds trail
Where: from Hilversum Mediapark station to Baarn, Noord-Holland and Utrecht, the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 16 km
Hiking date: 19 August 2021
Materials used in illustrations: coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for the other illustrations
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Trail booklet:

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