We love to ask the locals about their all-time favourite walking or cycling route
in Flemish Brabant. Our guide today is Vital, who recently retired
from a career as a politician and PR officer.
Born & raised in Flemish Brabant, Vital knows his region by heart!
Discover Vital’s favourite walk:
Why is this your favourite walk?
[Vital:] Because it’s just like an ‘all-in’ package − the perfect combination of nature, heritage, and hospitality. Plus, the walk starts at a unique Bed & Breakfast, located in the Neerijse Castle’s former carriage house. A beautiful estate!
I once nominated the Margijs Walking Trail for a ‘most beautiful walk in Flanders’ contest, and I believe it finished in a very worthy 4th place.
Please briefly describe the walk...
[Vital:] The walk starts along a lovely lane lined by Japanese flowering cherries on both sides. It is absolutely worth a trip in early spring when the pink blossoms brighten up the landscape. The walk continues into the historic Margijs Forest, where you can see the old Loonbeek Watermill between junctions 216 and 219. Once out of the forest, you’re treated to several beautiful panoramas right in the middle of the rolling landscape. The junctions lead you further into the Dyle Valley, where the pathway can get quite soggy from time to time. Lastly, you cross through the Doode Bemde nature reserve − a real highlight for nature lovers, thanks to the corduroy path and the bird observation huts! I always finish my walk in the Barons Brasserie (300 metres from the point of departure/arrival): a beautifully renovated farmhouse, where you can stop for a bite to eat and something to drink.
Do you have a fun anecdote or interesting facts about the Margijs walk that you’d like to share?
[Vital:] Oh my, I’ve had so many great experiences on my many walks…
I remember how really charmed I was by the square farmhouse on the Lindenhoflaan, at the start of the walk. It’s been turned into a horse retirement home, where old horses are housed and taken care of. Unfortunately, it’s no longer open to the public… I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit it once. The building’s architecture is impressive, and the arched roof, in particular, really made an impression on me.
Be sure to take a close look at the trees along the Dyle River in the Doode Bemde nature reserve: you can see clear traces of nocturnal visitors − the beavers!
One last fact for the road: there are various legends about why the church in Neerijse has two towers. According to one legend, the money to build the church was donated by two noblewomen. But because they both donated equal amounts, they each wanted their own tower. Another legend says that the church had to serve both Huldenberg and Neerijse, and each community demanded its own tower. The least plausible − but the funniest − hypothesis is that one tower wasn’t enough to house all the owls!
What’s the best time of year to take this walk?
[Vital:] It’s so hard to choose… But I’d say Autumn, when the colours in the Margijs Forest are so beautiful. Early spring is a great time to see the pink blossoms along the lane at the start of the walk. Late spring is the best time to see the bluebells that carpet some of the slopes of the Margijs Forest floor. Actually, you can enjoy this region − and the Margijs Walking Trail − at any time of year!
Inspired by Vital and ready to discover the Margijs Walking Trail yourself?
Check this page for more information!