For me, one enjoyable aspect of walking in the countryside is the possibility of the unexpected. This walk, which starts from the Château de Rixensart, certainly gave me a few surprises.
With your back to the castle, turn left, walk up the road, take the first left into 1ère Avenue and walk through Beau Site. On the Square de la Resistance, just stand back and admire the five magnificent oak trees.
Continue along Avenue de la Resistance until the main road, turn left and follow the track that runs alongside house no.11. On your left is the Bois de Rixensart; on your right is the Bois de Limal. I had a big surprise here; a black woodpecker leisurely flew overhead. Black woodpeckers are more likely to be seen in the Ardennes than 100 metres from a busy road on the outskirts of Brussels.
Continue along this track (another surprise – so many wild strawberries) until a T-junction where a house is being built. Turn left and then take the left fork down into the woods. (If you want a longer walk, turn right and explore the lakes and reed beds in the Lasne valley).
Another unexpected sight will soon greet you: a World War Two bunker. Apparently this bunker was never used during the war. The closest it came to action was after liberation when British troops tested their anti-tank shells on it.
Just past the bunker, fork slightly right so that the open field is on your left. In the distance on your left you can see the château. On your right is an ancient orchard. Carry straight on and turn left along Avenue de la Rochefoucauld. Follow this winding road back to your starting point.
For the kids – Look out for red squirrels in the woods. On the forest floor, search for the remains of pine cones that have been stripped by squirrels so they can reach the seeds. A single squirrel can eat the seeds from 20,000 cones in a year. Squirrels can also tell whether nuts are good or bad by shaking them.