The ideal way to spend a day in the Belgian Hageland: a walk, lunch, and castle visit!
In my last post I introduced you to Horst Castle, which is well worth a visit for an hour or two. But the neighbouring countryside is also worth exploring. So you can make a day of it: a morning walk, lunch, and then a castle visit in the afternoon.
Horst Castle lies in the heart of the Hageland. This is an extensive area of woodland, meadows, streams and marshes, and is criss-crossed with plenty of well-signposted footpaths. As it’s fairly undulating you can get some good views over the countryside from key vantage points.
I frequently go walking in this area, and have devised four recommended walks. They all start from Horst Castle, where there is a large car park. If you’re travelling by public transport, take De Lijn bus 310 from Leuven to the nearby village of Sint-Pieters-Rode and get off at the stop called Sint-Pieters-Rode-Horst. All the walks are circular.
Not surprisingly, from the castle the four walks head off to the north, east, south and west. They follow the numbered signposts of the Hageland walking network. You start/finish all four of them at post no. 143 outside Horst Castle.
1. North to Nieuwrode
You can see that from no. 143 (bottom left) you can head north to the village of Nieuwrode and then through Houwart and back to the castle. Depending on the day and time of day, there are refreshment opportunities in both villages. This walk is 11.6 km.
2. East to Houwart and Winge Golf Club
Again starting from no. 143 at the castle (top left), this pleasant country walk of 12 km takes you east to Houwart village and then south through the Roeselberg woods along the perimeter of the Winge Golf Club. You can stop at the Gempermolen café (no, 237, see below) for refreshments.
3. South to the Gempermolen
This scenic 10.5 km walk, known locally as the Broechem Walk, also enables you to make a pitstop halfway at the Gempermolen café. This is an old watermill that has been recorded in documents dating back to 1229. It serves small snacks and larger meals, and also has a terrace where you are free to eat your packed lunch. The Gempermolen also has a cold drink dispenser which is useful when the café is closed.
Also extremely useful is this automatic vending machine – if you are a cyclist and get a puncture. It dispenses various sizes of inner-tubes for bikes!
4. West to Kortrijk-Dutsel
From no. 143 (far right) you can strike out west through Sint-Pieters-Rode and return through the village of Kortrijk-Dutsel. If you do this walk in the winter, you may need rubber boots as between 147, 146 and 130 the path can get a bit flooded after heavy rain. The total length is 11.8 km.
5. Mix n’ Match!
Of course, the beauty of the hiking network is that you can mix and match to suit your fitness and time available. So you’ll see from the maps that you can simply do a short circle around Horst Castle of 2-3 km. Or you can extend your walk much further.
I hope you enjoy walking in the Hageland. As always, if you have any questions, just drop me a line. Or let me know how you get on.