Flemish Brabant Tourism is doing an excellent job in producing material in English – in print form or to download – describing walks and cycle routes around the province.
If you live in the province of Flemish Brabant or are planning to visit it, you will now never be lost for a walk or cycle route. And if you go on one, you will (or should) never be lost!
The tourism department of the province has really excelled itself to promote its walking and cycling routes. So let’s start with walking.
It has produced an attractive, informative and functional 30-page guidebook describing 24 walks of varying distance and distributed evenly across the province. You can order it for free (with 2.76 EUR postage) or you can download it from their website. Let’s look at it in more detail.
An overview of the walks
You can see that wherever you are in the province, you are not far from a local walk. And if you live in Brussels (the white hole, center-left) you don’t have to travel far to reach one of the walks on the outskirts of the city.
Most of the walks are around 9 km in length. The shortest is 5.3 and the longest is 11.7. So most can be completed in a morning or afternoon, although the longer ones can easily be stretched out into a leisurely day’s stroll. They are all circular.
The address of the starting point of each walk is indicated. As I am a keen user of public transport, I would have liked to seen an indication of the nearest bus stop or railway station, but that’s fairly easy to look up on Google Maps. If you need to know how to reach the start by public transport from your own home, you can always ask me.
Pull-out or print-out individual routes
The booklet has 24 of what they call Fact Sheets. Each is perforated so you can easily tear one out of the booklet and take it with you.
The front of each fact sheet has the full-colour map of the route and the distance.
The back gives a short description of the route, the departure point, the relief (so you can see the ups and downs), the numbers of the nodes to follow, and a short description of the main point of interest along the route, such as a castle, brewery, tower, viewpoint etc.
If you have downloaded the booklet from their website, you can easily print out the relevant fact sheet.
Note that on the downloadable pdf, when you select a (double) page to print, you will get the back of one walk and the front of the next walk, so you will have to be smart with your printing!
You can also download the GPX file for each route for your Garmin or other device.
Print from online
However, there is a solution to that printing challenge! On their website, you can also download each route map separately. And when you do, lo and behold, the front and back of the relevant fact sheet are now side-by-side!
There is a minor glitch in the system which they will probably iron out. When you download the individual fact sheets you will get the Dutch version and not the English. For the map it’s no problem. For the description: well, it will give you the chance to practice your Dutch.
The walking node network
I’m frequently mentioning this excellent invention in my posts because it’s an easy way to plan your route and then follow it without getting lost. Many of the 24 walking routes in the booklet use this network.
However, if you don’t want to be restricted to these particular 24 routes and want to go “off piste”, on their website here you have access to the complete network online so you can plan your own route in your chosen location, with the starting point that suits you best, and the distance of your preference.
Cycling is well covered in Flemish Brabant too
Cycling doesn’t have its own booklet of routes. Maybe they will make one; maybe not. But what they have done is produce 34 cycling routes in the province that are described in English. You can download each route as a PDF. Or as a GPX file to upload to your Garmin or whatever device you use.
You will notice that it’s also node-based. This is because the cycling network in much of Flanders has its own nodes, numbered differently to the walking network nodes.
Visit their website for much more
There’s a lot more on the Tourism Flemish Brabant website in English that is really well prepared and presented. In addition to Walking and Cycling, you can see what’s listed under Nature & Recreation, Culture & Heritage, and Accommodation. And under Discover they list all kinds of events, traditions, local produce, trips to breweries and vineyards, and much more.
They have also produced an informative overall brochure along with a Bucket List which I have already described in another post.
And that’s about it. Well done Tourism Flemish Brabant. I am sure it’s been a team effort, but I know two people in particular who have been driving this work for a number of years: Head of Tourism Monique Swinnen and Tourism Expert Kristien Petrlic. You are really doing a lot to promote the province to non-Belgians, and producing all this material in English is extremely useful for anyone wanting to explore the province.
Other provinces in Belgium have English-language material available covering walking and cycling, but so far I haven’t seen anything as detailed as that described above. Please correct me if I am wrong.