The 9 km Justus Lipsius walk around Overijse is not recommended for young children (or for prams or buggies) but for those who persevere with its gradients and occasionally rough terrain, it’s well worth the effort. It affords stunning views over Overijse and Wavre and leads you alongside some gems of old buildings.
The walk starts and ends at the Justus Lipsiusplein in Overijse, where you can park. The 344 bus goes to Overijse from Brussels Schuman. The circular route is well signposted, with red and white signposts at all major junctions. It’s named after the Belgian humanist who was born in Overijse in 1547. Justus Lipsius has been described as the greatest Renaissance scholar of the Low Countries after Erasmus. His most telling contribution was a series of works designed to revive ancient Stoicism in a form that would be compatible with Christianity.
The walk introduces you to good views of the Kasteel van Ijse and Kasteel Terdek, as well as two huge farmhouses, the Hof te Reutebeek and the Hof ter Geiten, although the latter is admittedly in a shameful state.
In a stand of Scots pine trees I watched a pair of crested tits feeding. In my native UK these delightful birds are rarities, as they are confined to ancient pine forests in the north of Scotland. Yet in Belgium they are fairly common; they even visit my garden and feed on the bird table. This disagrees with the latest and best bird guide available which states categorically that the crested tit “does not visit bird tables.” Obviously the individuals in my garden have not read the book.
The route brings you back to Overijse via the sports centre, where you can burn off any remaining energy on the outdoor Fit-O-Meter. A more realistic suggestion is to visit the Grape Museum on the Justus Lipsiusplein, which will bring you up to date with the history and present status of grape-growing in Overijse.
For the kids – In autumn, see how many different nuts and berries you can collect. I came across acorns, horse chestnuts (conkers), sweet chestnuts, hazel nuts and beech mast, as well as rose hips, blackberries and blackthorn berries (sloes). The website http://www.hainaultforest.co.uk has a useful section on autumn fruits and nuts to help you identify what you bring home.