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Stay on track with walking routes in the countryside this summer
While we wouldn’t say no to a brisk autumn or winter walk in the countryside, Flemish Brabant really comes into its own in the summer. The green belt surrounding Brussels is all fields, flowers and fresh-smelling forests. Take a jaunt of a few kilometres, and you will find yourself stopping short, with a pond on one side and cows grazing on the other, and thinking: Well, that’s pretty idyllic, all right.
The good news is that the province makes it easier for us city folk to find a walk and not get lost. There are two options: A signposted walk or the node-to-node network. The first kind is mapped out for you, and you just find the start and follow the signs. The walk will always bring you back where you started.
The Ruusbroec Walk, for instance begins in Hoeilaart, just over the border with Watermael-Boitsfort. It guides you through the Sonian Forest and the Groenendaal arboretum, home to about 400 species of trees. Or you could try the Zenne Walk, a tad to the west in Beersel, where you wander around the famous Beersel Castle, taking in views across the Zenne valley, with Brussels in the distance.
Flemish Brabant details these and more signposted walks on its website in English. You simply drive or bike (or walk!) to the address indicated as the start of the walk, then follow the signs.
This same website suggests routes on the node-to-node network, a wonderfully organised series of numbered signposts. You start at one signpost and follow the indicated direction to the next numbered signpost. Should the trek in-between be a bit long, no worries – mediary signposts keep you on the right path.
Say you want to walk in the Vollezele area, home to the famous Brabant draft horse. Flemish Brabant offers a suggested node-to-node route and even tells you how to get to the first node of your journey. The province has named this route Brilliant (after the 19th-century prize-winning Brabant stallion), but don’t get confused: There are no signposts that say Brilliant. Node-to-node routes are created by the user, so you follow numbers, not titles.
Flemish Brabant’s suggested routes on the node-to-node network are super convenient, but you can also create your own walk on the network at its dedicated website. Just click on the area you want to walk in and start creating a route. This is slightly trickier, as you have to determine where your walk starts on your own, but there are endless combinations.
Flemish Brabant has also published a walking guide in English with 20 node-to-node walks, including some themed routes. Like beer? Choose the Margijs Walk to visit the Kroon Brewery. More interested in getting lost in a forest? The Bertem Forest or Schavaai Walk are the way to go. The walking guide can be ordered or downloaded for free.
The province even tapped locals to guide you along their favourite walking and cycling routes. So while singer and poet Walter will introduce you to three cute villages on the node-to-node network, Mia will show you the diversity of the Gete River Valley from her bike.
Photos: Lander Loeckx