The White Feather Gang

2 hours 25 minutes (43.0 km)

The thrilling story of the White Feather Gang has been told in the De Langstraat region for generations. Experience the cycle route dedicated to this legend. A great adventure near theme park Efteling and National Park the Loon and Drunen Dunes!

The White Feather Gang (Bende van de Witte Veer) cycle route is an exciting 43-kilometre route in the De Langstraat region of Brabant. It will take you past places touched by dangerous gang members, such as the mysterious White Castle in Loon op Zand. The route also passes the beautiful National Park the Loon and Drunen Dunes.

The story of the White Feather Gang 
North Brabant around 1720. The popula…

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The thrilling story of the White Feather Gang has been told in the De Langstraat region for generations. Experience the cycle route dedicated to this legend. A great adventure near theme park Efteling and National Park the Loon and Drunen Dunes!

The White Feather Gang (Bende van de Witte Veer) cycle route is an exciting 43-kilometre route in the De Langstraat region of Brabant. It will take you past places touched by dangerous gang members, such as the mysterious White Castle in Loon op Zand. The route also passes the beautiful National Park the Loon and Drunen Dunes.

The story of the White Feather Gang 
North Brabant around 1720. The population had been suffering under the yoke of Spanish and French occupation for years. Survival was the only thing that mattered. A group of heathens, vagabonds, and deserters formed a wild gang and became the terror of the region. Farms and mansions were not safe from their raiding parties. They sold stolen goods and livestock to local receivers in exchange for clothing, food and weapons. The gang had hidden their camp deep in the impenetrable area between Loon op Zand and 's-Gravenmoer, which at the time was close to the border with Holland. The most notorious and cunning of them all was gang leader Swarte Johannes (Black John). Nobody knew what he really looked like, because Swarte Johannes was a master of disguise. Only the white feather on his hat betrayed that he was a member of the gang.

Gang member Blommerantje was head over heels in love with Swarte Johannes. But he was married to another and Blommerantje, to her anger, had to contend with being his mistress. She secretly made a sandstone head of Swarte Johannes which she carried with her day and night, for those times when he was with his wife or on a rampage. This head now adorns the facade of the Ravensbosch farmhouse (1). You'll discover how it got its place there during this trip.

The gang's crimes went from bad to worse. Otto Juyn was an ambitious drossaard (a government official) who had been sent to the area to put things in order. He started a relentless manhunt for the gang members and their receivers. He and his men found the camp and arrested everyone there. Swarte Johannes managed to escape, but the remaining gang members, including Blommerantje, were put in prison. They were interrogated harshly to get to the truth and most of them ended up on the gallows. The cunning Swarte Johannes evaded arrest by repeatedly crossing the border into Holland. He knew Otto Juyn would not be able to get to him there. Until the night that he made a huge mistake. In the pitch dark, Swarte Johannes stole a pig, loaded it onto a boat and set out to cross stream De Donge (2). But the pig screamed bloody murder. Otto Juyn and his men followed the shrill noises and waited quietly at the border post (3) on the bank. As soon as the boat landed in Brabant, they apprehended Swarte Johannes.

Otto Juyn suspected he was a gang member because of the white feather in his hat, but he could not prove it. Swarte Johannes claimed to have found the pig. In his knapsack they found a crowbar and a pistol, but according to Swarte Johannes these were gifts from blacksmith Adriaan Coenen from Dongen. Otto Juyn visited Adriaan Coenen, who confirmed that he had indeed given the crowbar and the pistol to an unknown man. The drossaard smelled a rat. When his men searched the blacksmith's house, they found all kinds of stolen items. These were stored in the church of Dongen (4) and the blacksmith was locked up. He was later hanged for being a receiver. Swarte Johannes disappeared into the dungeon of the White Castle (6), where he was violently interrogated for a year. He told many a lie and some halftruths. But Otto Juyn had no hard evidence that he belonged to the White Feather Gang. Soon, he would have to release him.

When Blommerantje was transferred to the White Castle, she recognised Swarte Johannes’ voice. Embittered because she never came first for him, Blommerantje grabbed her chance for revenge. In exchange for her own release, she offered Otto Juyn the sandstone head: "If the man you have in there looks like this head, then you know you have Swarte Johannes." And so Blommerantje gained her freedom. Swarte Johannes eventually confessed to sixty crimes. He ended up on the gallows and his corpse was taken to Galgeneind (7). Thus ended the biggest gang that Brabant has ever known. Otto Juyn gave the sandstone head to the farmer from whom the pig was stolen. Because without this pig, Swarte Johannes would never have been caught. And so the head ended up on the façade of the Ravensbosch farmouse (1).

But the stories persisted and still wander around like a memory. Thus, anyone entering the area will hear about The White Feather Gang. It is whispered that the ghosts of Swarte Johannes, Blommerantje, Lucretia de Heydinne, Capiteyn Alewijn Aertappel and Luytenant Peldertje still wander the fields and forests. And if you find a white feather on the trail... well. They may have been very close.

Information about the bicycle route
This cycle route is 43 kilometres long and follows the official cycling junction network. The cycle route starts and ends at The Zwammenberg (Zijstraat 20, De Moer). You can park your car near the restaurant.

Want to meet the gang members?
Enjoy special products and activities at hospitality venues along the cycle route, inspired by the legend of the White Feather Gang. How about a craft beer named after a gang member, a delicious ‘last meal’, guided tours,or a quill-making workshop? For more information, please visit bendevandewitteveer.nl.

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Take a look

Sights on this route

De Zwammenberg

Zijstraat 20
5176 NG De Moer
31 26 07 27

Ravensbosch Farm

Ravenbosch Hoeve
Vaartweg 25
5109 RA 's Gravenmoer
49 48

De Donge

Dongendijk
's Gravenmoer
29

Boundary post

Kerkdijk
's gravenmoer
28 05 08

Dongen Church ruin

Kerkstraat 56
5101 BD Dongen

Tannery Museum De Looierij

Kerkstraat 33
5101 BB Dongen
09 38 31 55 52 32 37

The White Castle

Kasteellaan 17
5175 BC Loon op Zand

Galgeneind

Galgeneind
Loon op Zand
38

De Zwammenberg

Zijstraat 20
5176 NG De Moer

Directions

De Zwammenberg

Zijstraat 20
5176 NG De Moer
  • Ravensbosch Farm
    The White Feather Gang’s camp was hidden in the Ravensbos, near the hamlet of Zandschel, two kilometres east of 's-Gravenmoer. Near the place where the forest would have been at that time, stands a farm called Ravensbosch (Vaartweg 25, 's Gravenmoer). Above the door there is a sandstone head of a gypsy with a luxuriant head of hair, presumably the leader of the White Feather Gang: Swarte Johannes. The house belongs to the company Ravenbosch Farm Solutions.
  • De Donge
    After Swarte Johannes stole the pig, he crossed the Donge with it. This stream turns into a river. 
  • Boundary post
    The village of ‘s-Gravenmoer still has the small dykes which for seven centuries formed the border between the County of Holland and the Duchy of Brabant. To make this old border visible again, nine oak boundary posts bearing the coats of arms of Holland and Brabant were installed in 2010. 
  • Dongen Church ruin
    The Netherlands has only three church ruins, and Brabant has only one. It is located in the Kerkstraat in Dongen. Old cobblestones point the way to this late-Gothic brick church. The tower was built in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. A collapse in 1928 largely destroyed the nave of the church.
  • Tannery Museum De Looierij
    Museum De Looierij is located in a former tannery in Dongen. It shows the process of leather tanning step by step. Fun fact: 150 years ago the village of Dongen housed more than a quarter of all the tanneries in the Netherlands.
  • The White Castle
    On the outskirts of Loon op Zand you will find the White Castle (Het Witte Kasteel) whose history dates back to the end of the 14th century. Many famous figures have visited the castle in the more than six hundred years of its existence. The castle is a national monument and has been listed as a historic country estate since 2002.
  • Galgeneind
    On 19 September 1726, Swarte Johannes, the leader of the White Feather Gang, was sentenced to death. His body was transported by a military escort to the Galgenberg on the Galgeneind in De Moer to prevent it from being stolen. Tip: you can enter Landgoed Huis ter Heide via Galgeneind and the Galgeneindsestraat. Here you will find several beautiful ponds, such as the Leikeven. The names here speak for themselves; Galgeneind means ‘gallows’ end’, Galgenberg means ‘gallows’ hill’, and Leikeven meand ‘corpse pond’.

De Zwammenberg

Zijstraat 20
5176 NG De Moer
31
26
07
27
49
48
29
28
05
08
09
38
31
55
52
32
37
38

Attributes

Trip/route

  • Marked: Yes
  • Type of Route: Recreation