Hiking in Belgium Limburg

Bree – and not a Ringwraith in sight

No sign of anything to do with Middle Earth in this place called Bree, but plenty of fresh air, great walks and lovely nature

Today I was in the province of Limburg. I visited my good friend and master wood-carver Patrick Damiaens, to interview him for an article for a newspaper on his latest project: doing some exquisite wood-carving for an abbey in England (more of that later). After an interesting and fun chat with him (and some lekker appeltaart, bedankt Patrick), I made the most of my time in Limburg by visiting the Natuurpunt nature reserve called Sint-Maartensheide in Bree.

How little did I realise when I first read The Lord of the Rings in 1978 that 35 years later I would be following in the footsteps of Frodo Baggins by passing through the village of Bree!

Bree

Well, of course not. Tolkein’s Bree wasn’t even inspired by this Flemish town, but by a village in Buckinghamshire, England called Brill. I do think however that Bree has missed a marketing opportunity. But I guess when you are the birthplace of tennis-star Kim Clijsters and Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois then you don’t need any more fame.

Well, the nature reserve is really an excellent place for a good walk in the nature. You can start in the Mariahof which is open on Sunday afternoons 2-5 pm, and there are a number of walks around the place in varying distances. All the paths are very well tended so it’s an excellent place to bring young children.

Walks are colour coded and well signposted.
Walks are colour coded and well signposted.
There are three bird hides open to the public; children might like the opportunity to see birds from close up
There are three bird hides open to the public; children might like the opportunity to see birds from close up
You can follow the Abeek around the perimeter of the reserve
You can follow the Abeek around the perimeter of the reserve
You can actually throw a stone over the Abeek and it will land in the Netherlands!
You can actually throw a stone over the Abeek and it will land in the Netherlands!

In the spring the area is renowned for its vast numbers of dragonflies of multiple species, as well as the green tree frog, the red-backed shrike and the purple emperor butterly (what a colourful place!).

I was fortunate enough to see a gorgeous kingfisher flash by, and there were hundreds of wild geese grazing in the meadows, which I think I identified as greylag and white-fronted geese, but I’m not a goose expert.

Clever use of half a tree.
Clever use of half a tree.
The other half they used to build giant birdboxes
The other half they used to build giant birdboxes and benches
This is how you know when you've stepped over the border into the Netherlands
This is how you know when you’ve stepped over the border into the Netherlands

P1040739So all in all, a highly recommended area to walk around. Here’s a map of the area with all the footpaths marked on: Sint Maartensheide map

6 comments on “Bree – and not a Ringwraith in sight

  1. Love the post to tell you that you’ve crossed the border. 🙂 We’re working on a trip to visit Belgium in April/May.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My favourite photo here is the tree with the birdhouse. Nicely done, Denzil. I really enjoy reading your posts about beautiful walks. They make me want to pack my bag and head right over. It looks like the trees are just starting to get a hint of green about them too.

    Like

  3. Did you use that log bridge to cross over the water?

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    • To be honest, no, I didn’t have to go that way. Actually, I was quite pleased I didn’t have to. The absence of a handrail, and the slippiness caused by recent rain, would have made me rather nervous Yvonne!

      Liked by 1 person

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