Campspace blogger Kirsten visited a secluded tiny house in the UNESCO World Heritage site Frederiksoord (the Colonies of Benevolence) in Drenthe. Read about her cosy winter stay!
It sounds like a dream – sleeping in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in a unique and sustainably-built tiny house on wheels, surrounded by countless fruit trees. In fact, this is a reality in Frederiksoord, in the Dutch province of Drenthe. During my recent stay at this charming campspace, I fell head-over-heels in love with this special corner of the Netherlands. No rush and no people around you, just the freedom to enjoy peace, simplicity, nature, crackling fires and swinging in a hanging chair by the open doors of your home for the night.
My name is Kirsten and I am a photographer and the person behind the Dutch travel blog Where She Goes. Where She Goes is a travel blog for everyone who loves the outdoors, camping trips and unique places to sleep in nature. I am often on the road exploring and photographing all kinds of dream spots and unique (sustainable) accommodations, such as forest cabins and treehouses. You can expect articles from me, as a Campspace columnist, with handy camping tips and articles about the coolest camping and glamping spots.
Manilde’s campspace is not only a unique tiny house, but also a place steeped in history. The tiny house on wheels is located on the edge of the Fruithof in Frederiksoord. Here you’ll find countless orchards with a total of about 800 fruit trees, of which produce 550 (!) different fruit varieties. 550! I didn’t even know that there were so many varieties of apples, pears and plums in existence. At the Fruithof, dedicated volunteers put an enormous amount of time and energy into preventing old and rare apple and pear varieties from disappearing. In this way, the Fruithof also serves the crucial purpose of a large gene bank.
If you stay in the tiny house on Wednesdays, there’s a good chance you’ll meet the volunteers. On other days it’s possible to walk through the Fruithof (the orchards are open for visitors during the day), weigh your own fruit and pay for it in the self-service shop.
From the parking lot, you can walk past the fruit trees of the Fruithof to the tiny house in just a few minutes. You’re the only guest in the Fruithof and that’s what makes staying at Manilde’s campspace such a unique experience!
Manilde’s one-of-a-kind tiny house on the edge of the Fruithof isn’t all there is to see at this location in Frederiksoord! During your stay, you’ll also find yourself situated on a bona fide UNESCO World Heritage Site! Since 2021, the Colonies of Benevolence (in the Netherlands Veenhuizen, Frederiksoord and Wilhelminaoord) have been proudly listed on the World Heritage List.
These Colonies of Benevolence tell a special story. In 1818, the first ‘Colony of Benevolence’ was founded in Frederiksoord by Johannes van de Bosch. Aiming to reduce the poverty that prevailed in the Netherlands. In the experimental colony of Frederiksoord poor families (the so-called paupers) were given a new perspective and the chance to build a new ‘beneficial’ life. They each received a house and work, and were taught disciplines. They moved into one of the 430 colony houses in the surroundings – small farms with a living areas at the front and stables in the wooden back houses. The piece of land around a colony house was used for agriculture while children were sent to school. It was in fact a social experiment that turned out to be the beginning of the Dutch welfare state.
About 50 colony houses have been preserved, 14 of which are on the National Monuments List. When you walk, drive or cycle though Frederiksoord and Wilhelminaoord, you can see how this has influenced the surroundings. The history is still visible. In Museum de Proefkolonie, which is located on the other side of the meadow – opposite the tiny house – the story of the first Colony of Benevolence is told.
I really love tiny houses and have stayed in a lot of them, but Manilde’s is really a one of kind tiny house. When I park the car at the Fruithof I can already see the house in the distance between the trees. With its characteristic shape, the light blue color and the round windows, it’s a huge eye-catcher that looks like a fairytale house. How excited to be spending the night here!
When I arrive I am welcomed by co-host Janneke. Janneke tells me that the tiny house is a co-creation of her and a couple called Manilde and Martin, who run Tralaluna Casita on Wheels (think of roadtrips with cool oldtimer buses and one of a kind places to sleep in nature). With her company Even BijKomen, Janneke focuses on burnout guidance and prevention. Manilde and Martin from Tralaluna focus on distinctive accommodations. This turned out to be a match made in heaven.
In the tiny house in Frederiksoord both partners’ focuses come together very nicely. The tiny house has become a place where both the tourist guests and Janneke’s care guests can relax and get inspired. What all these guests have in common is a love for nature, unique places and lighting fires.
It goes without saying that the tiny house in the Fruithof – built by Manilde and Martin – was inspired by the historic colony houses in the surrounding area. Reusing materials, creativity and sustainability are key to the concept of this house. A lot of recycled materials have been used during the construction, from the thatch on the roof to the characteristic round windows. All the materials together make a wonderfully sustainable and cosy house. A place to just be and enjoy the simplicity. I really loved the experience.
The tiny house can accommodate either one or two people. Together or alone it’s a lovely place to stay all year round thanks to the floor heating and the wood stove. You’ll find everything you need in the little house; from a sitting area by the stove to an equipped kitchen, dining area and bedroom. An ingenious idea is the hanging chair which you can while the day away in. From bed you can enjoy watching the stars or clouds through the large roof window. The nights are really dark in this part of Drenthe. I myself stayed in the tiny house in November and while one moment I saw a sky full of stars, the next moment the rain came splashing down on the window roof. Outside you can breakfast on a picnic table and light a campfire in the fire barrel for a cosy end to the night.
To use the sanitary facilities at Manilde’s campspace, you do need to go outside. Next to the tiny house there is a sanitary house. Also on wheels! There’s a (compost) toilet on one side and a shower on the other side.
When showering you look up to the sky through the roof windows. A photo print on the walls of the greenhouse of the former horticultural school gives you the feeling of showering amongst lush greenery. The water from the shower is collected in helophyte containers, after which it is drained to the ground and filtered by plants.
The same happens with the off-grid compost toilet, which is also connected to a helophyte filer. You don’t flush the toilet, but cover up your business with a bit of sawdust.
It’s lovely to discover the most beautiful places of the Colony of Benevolence Fredersiksoord. You can explore by foot or rent a bicycle or e-bike across the sheep meadow. There are various walking and cycling routes that lead you past the colony houses, a colony church, through the Sterrebos and past the former Horticultural School.
Plus, the tiny house is surrounded by three National Parks: Dwingelderveld, Drents-Friese Wold and Weerribben. You won’t get bored easily here with all this beautiful nature surrounding you.
At Tramhalteplein in Noordwolde – about 6km from the tiny house – you will find a cool place to have lunch or a high tea. If you’re near the Dwingelderveld, don’t skip the Bospub in Dwingeloo for a cup of hot chocolate and apple pie.
You can already stay in the tiny house from one night. But I would advise you to stay at least two nights. This way you have more time to rest and enjoy your stay. Do you want to bring your dog? That’s possible! Dogs are allowed in the tiny house. The tiny house can be booked though Campspace.
Would you like to read more about my camping and glamping adventures and about the best (nature) campsites? Please take a look at my website Where She Goes and my Instagram page.
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