Cycling in Belgium

Biking amid the blossoms of the Haspengauw

Last September I introduced you to the Haspengouw, an area of Belgium that is renowned for its fruit industry. Every year the region produces around 360,000 tons of pears and 280,000 tons of apples, topped up with significant volumes of cherries, strawberries and soft fruits.

If you remember, I cycled the 70-kilometre “fruitoogstrit” (fruit harvest cycle ride); a super route through the orchards, which at that time of the year were bursting with ripe fruit. You can read my account here. I also mentioned that I was intending to return to this area in Spring, when all the fruit trees are in full bloom.

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Well, that time of the year is here. There’s a useful little web page in Dutch called the “bloesemmeter” or “blossom meter”, which shows the daily progress of the fruit trees as they come into blossom.

Currently the pear trees are in full bloom, with the apple trees just beginning to come out (apple trees blossom about 10 days after pear trees). They reckon that the orchards will be looking their best around 20th April.

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However, today’s sunshine and hot weather (Sunday 9th April = 23°C) has brought out the apple blossom in my local orchard so quickly that the peak could well be before the 20th.

So I am hoping to get on my bike soon and cycle through the wonderfully pink orchards of the Haspengouw.

Where’s the best place to see the Haspengauw blossom?

I could of course repeat the “fruitoogstrit” that I did last September. However, a comment on my blog post from Tom Bastijns suggests that I missed the best part of the Haspengouw: “the “real” Haspengouw is situated between Sint-Truiden and Borgloon. There you can have amazing views after riding up from one hill to the other. The part you did is also beautiful, but flat, and therefore less good for taking pictures.”

How can I resist his suggestion?

So I have done some research and found two recommended cycle routes in the area that Tom suggests.

38 km around Borgloon

The first starts and ends in Borgloon and is a 38 km loop. Below is the map, and you can find the route and the GPX file here on RouteYou.

Borgloon 38 km

46 km around Sint-Truiden

The second starts and ends in Sint-Truiden and is 46 km long. Below is the map, and you can find the GPX file here on RouteYou.

Sint-Truiden 46 km.

90 km around Borgloon and Sint-Truiden

I then decided to combine the two in this 90 km route from Sint-Truiden to Borgloon and back. Below is the map and you can download the GPX file for your device here from RouteYou.

Sint-Truiden Borgloon 90 km

As you can see, all the routes follow the excellent system of numbered junctions that I have written about extensively elsewhere. This means that you can easily shorten (or lengthen!) your route as your energy reserves get unexpectedly depleted (or topped up!).

Good luck!

I hope that you might have the opportunity to cycle one of these routes in the coming days and see the spectacular Haspengouw orchards in full bloom.

I am hoping to find the time to do one of them soon too. Maybe I’ll see you en route?

haspengouw-1

P.S. None of these pictures are mine! I hope to replace them with my own photos once I have actually done one of these routes.

For you Pinterest fans, here’s a pin:

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33 replies »

  1. It all sounds beautiful, like people should flock there to see it as they do to see the cherry blossom in Japan. It must be amazing place to see wildlife too – imagine how many insects could be drawn to all that pollen and nectar. I wonder what apple-blossom honey tastes like….?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know about the orchards and insecticides; that would be something worth checking out. What’s interesting to see Theresa is that I notice more birdboxes going up in these orchards now than a few years ago, which is a good sign of the owner’s environmental friendliness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Denzil,
    This sounds beautiful and the weather there has really warmed up for you quickly. We have similar temps here at the moment too.
    As a bike rider, I can just imagine the peaceful and beautiful scenery of the orchards. A lovely post 🌟🌟

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Denzil, lovely and interesting blog post!

    Last weekend I went to Haspengouw and did 3 bicycle rides of +/- 70 km each.

    It was great to be in the area, it’s so ideal for riding your bike, isn’t it?

    I was there last year too, a week after the infamous storm in June.
    Then a lot of bicycle paths were blocked and in many cases we had to literally crawl over and through fallen trees and bushes with our bicycles. That was quite an adventure too, especially when we were also confronted with a thunderstorm which left us completely soaked! 😀 But, nevertheless I even enjoyed that too! When the conditions are hard during a hike / bicycle ride I always imagine I’m one of the Fellowship of the Ring or even one of the Famous Five who are going through an exciting adventure! That’s my coping mechanism! 😀

    Last weekend I also bought some Loonse Stroop, with apple, bear and bramble, lovely with bread!

    Keep them coming, your great blog posts!

    Liked by 1 person

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