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A first time for everything

About six months ago I got called by Yanick, a friend of mine and active member at Hiking Advisor NPO. Nothing special as we speak each other regularly on the phone, but this time he had a special request.
He wanted to know if I would be interested in organising a two-day hiking trip in the context of Slow Roads Day*.

Stage fright

In the past, I had been on a couple of hikes with Hiking Advisor, and last spring I assisted Sofie during a trip in the Volcanic Eifel region. However, this time it was a whole other story.

It’s strange, that after I committed myself, the questions raised. I knew fairly quickly that I wanted to go to the southernmost region of West Flanders, Heuvelland (tr. Land of Hills), where the mountains are hills, and the hills are called mountains.
After a couple of day hikes in the area, I mapped a trail that suited my needs. Still, I felt somewhat insecure. Maybe some kind of stage fright? Guess there is a first time for everything, and maybe that was all part of it.

* Trage Wegen vzw, literally translated Slow Roads, is a Flemish non-profit organisation that is trying to promote and preserve Belgium’s footpaths and bridleways. Every year, in autumn, they organise a campaign weekend called “Slow Roads Day” where several associations participate in showcasing our countries low-traffic streets and footpaths. Whether it’s on foot, on a horse or on a bike, it happens in a pleasant and safe way.

With a little imagination, it feels like being on holiday in Tuscany. Great weather, endless views, rolling hills and even vineyards.
– Filip D.

A splendid atmosphere

It was around 8:45 am when the first participants arrived in Nieuwkerke, the rendezvous point of our two-day adventure. During the introduction of each and everyone, it turned out very soon that this was going to be a fantastic group to guide.
As we strolled along broad farmland, the questions I had about the chosen route quickly disappeared. Everybody seemed to like the scenery of the Flemish rolling hills. By the time we reached the slopes of Red & Black Mountain, Filip, one of the participants, compared this region with Tuscany. Maybe I didn’t show how it felt when hearing that, but I must confess that I was a bit proud.

As the group consisted of 12 people it was also easier for them, and for myself, to learn to know each other a little better. This also benefited the atmosphere, reaching a climax at the end of the first day shortly after pitching our tents at the campground. Lieve, who came up with the idea of cooking together, and the campfire afterwards made it perfect. It was impressive to see everyone getting into the spirit of the day. Maybe,  the fact that the campsite owners had their fridge filled with some local Belgian Trappist beers helped a bit, but even without this golden juice, the mood couldn’t be better.

The second day our journey continued towards Kemmelberg, merely 156m high and the highest point of the province. As we wandered through several nature reserves, tips and tricks about multi-day hikes were shared, and future plans were made as our micro adventure advanced.

It tastes like more

At the end of our journey, we covered 47 kilometres in beautiful Heuvelland. A local pub was the place to be for a last drink together. With great satisfaction, we looked back at two days hiking and a bunch of new friends. It’s clear that all the questions I had before starting this trip had been answered in the best possible way.

Thank you Delfien, Lieve, Lynn, Nina, Cristopher, Davy, Filip, Karel, Marc, Paul & Tuur. I couldn’t have imagined a better team.

16 comments

natuurfreak

Pracht initiatief en jij was er de geschikte man om dit uit te bouwen.

    Wandering David

    Dankjewel Marylou.

Sonny Lapeire

David, dit is nog maar het begin ! Doe zo voort, en jaag uw dromen verder na.

    Wandering David

    Wie weet. Hou alvast de nieuwsbrief van Hiking Advisor (5 Nov.) in de gaten. 😉

leen

Goed gedaan .nog veel plezier met je tochten !

    Wandering David

    Dankjewel Leen. Na deze meer dan geslaagde tocht komen er zeker nog meer.

Hans Koster

Hallo David, waar is dit precies?

    Wandering David

    Het heuvelland in de westhoek. De grensstreek met Frankrijk in het zuidwesten van West Vlaanderen.

Debbie Sanders

Fantastisch op zo’n enthousiast verslag te lezen. Ook Hiking Advisor vzw kijkt uit naar je volgende bivaktochten. 😉

    Wandering David

    Merci Debbie. Een volgende komt zeker in orde 😉

Annelies

Je eerste blog die ik lees en net toevallig heb ik dit weekend de streek-GR Heuvelland afgerond. Nog heel veel succes met de organisatie van verdere bivaktochten

    Wandering David

    Dankjewel Annelies.

Holly Ann Kurt

Beautiful! I’ve never been hiking but would love to try it one day! <3

    Wandering David

    Hi Ann,
    First of all thank you for visiting the blog.
    Concerning going on a hiking trip, whether it’s a day hike or for several days, I can only encourage it.
    For me it’s an escape of the daily commuting and stress. I can clear my mind and enjoy the outdoors with whoever I go walking. And most of all if you have kids, and take them outdoors it is so great to see them enjoy themselves with all basic things we encounter. From a small stone that they bounce in the river or a rock they try to climb.
    So if you get an opportunity to bind your hiking shoes, don’t hesitate.
    Greetings David

Fallen Saint

Wow, really fabulous photos and writing form. Impressed! -Fallen

    Wandering David

    Thank you very much for these nice words.

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