Autumn is the season for a healthy, invigorating walk through a wood or forest, to enjoy the crisp air, the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet, and the beautiful colours at this time of the year. If that’s not enough, then you might fancy a bit of Forest Bathing, the benefits of which I explain here on my other blog.
But where to wander? In recent posts I have been extolling the wonders of the forests of Wallonia, so I thought it would good to focus on Flanders. It doesn’t have the huge expanses of forests that you can get lost in, that Wallonia does, but it does have a number of smaller woods that are worth exploring and enjoying. Here are Ten Woodland Walks in Flanders; two per province, so wherever you are, there’s one near you.
Averbode Woods and Heath
From Averbode’s famous abbey there are paths leading off in all directions, not just through the woods but also covering the heaths, grasslands, marshes, and even a few lakes. You can start here and follow the routes on Walking around Averbode.
Situated in the pretty area of Hageland, this small wooded area is on an iron-sandstone hill, from where you can explore the IJsbeek valley and the Schollenkot. A good starting point is the Domein Tienbunders; and here is a map of the Tienbunderbos.
Variety is the spice of life, so a walk through the Munsterbos will certainly spice up your life. It has a bit of everything: old oak forests, birch coppices, ponds and pastures, with a few picturesque chapels thrown in too. You can start from the village of Munsterbilzen and then follow the routes on this Munsterbos map.
I love the Voerstreek; one of the most picturesque regions of Flanders. I guarantee that you will also love this area too, with its pretty villages, undulating fields, peace and quiet, and miles and miles of footpaths and cycle routes. Start from the village of ‘s Gravenvoeren and pop this map into your back pocket.
This little wooded area can be a bit muddy, so take your boots, but walking through the Molenbeek valley with its winding stream, marsh vegetation and willow trees is worth the effort. Start here and follow Lovenhoek.
The remains of a much larger woodland, the Waverwoud is now cut up into smaller woods. There are many starting points, such as from the Markt in Sint-Katelijne-Waver, but as you can see from this map of Waverwoud, you can start elsewhere to cover different areas of it.
If you don’t know the Flemish Ardennes, you could be in for a bit of surprise. In contrast to the flatness of many other places in Flanders, it has gentle slopes, as well as some steep climbs. Enjoy the dense forests of the Raspaillebos, broken up by some scenic views over the surrounding countryside. Start from the De Helix nature centre, and you won’t get lost with this map of the Raspaillebos.
Another walk to enjoy the hills of the Flemish Ardennes, and even the steep edge of the Scheldt valley. Bos t’Ename is an attractive forest, made even better by some outstanding views over the valley. You can start your walk from the village of Ename and continue along this footpath.
If you thought that West Flanders was totally flat, a walk through the woods of the Heuvelland will make you think again; the well-known Kemmelberg (Mount Kemmel) is at 156 metres one of the highest spots in Flanders, from where you can enjoy views of Flanders Fields. Start from Westouter; here’s a map of the Heuvelland.
All these walks are through Natuurpunt nature reserves (the Flemish nature conservation organisation), who also made the maps.