Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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Packrafting Leie

Instant holiday vibes during another packrafting trip on the scenic and meandering river Leie, on a sunny and warm day in June.

I leave home on foot, pass the small nature reserve of Westerplas, and put in at Leiepark Deurle less than 30′ later. After 17 km and about 4.5 hours of relaxed paddling, I take out at Leiepark Sint-Denijs-Westrem, having followed the river through Sint-Martens-Latem, Drongen and Afsnee.

Paddling the river Leie is of course a very different experience from the more adventurous trips I tend to make, but I typically enjoy it nonetheless. Next to its obvious proximity to home, there are the greenery along its shores, the multitude of posh mansions and historic buildings, and the parade of pleasure yachts of various sizes.

Belgium 2021-06-09: Packrafting Leie


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Packrafting Assels & Northern Leie

One day after our first post-lockdown paddling trip, Evert and I again meet up. We are experiencing another gorgeous day, and the plan is to take advantage of it making a loop joining some branches of the river Leie, in close vicinity of the city of Ghent, and basically circumventing areas known as Assels and Blaarmeersen.

We put in at the new river terrace below the old abbey of Drongen (from 1859 in its current state, but originally dating back to the 7th century) and paddle an old river branch to a place called “3 Leien”. From there, we follow the actual river Leie to Afsnee, where we pass its 12th century Romanesque church.

We paddle Rosdambeek upstream a bit, but soon return to the river, which we continue to follow until Muynckhammen. We cross the Ringvaart canal, have a short break at the marina to give Evert the chance to empty his boat (as it seems to be punctured), and continue paddling until Watersportbaan, doing a short 10 m portage in the process.

We cross Watersportbaan and follow the so-called Northern Leie river branch past Malem until the nature reserve of Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen. Unfortunately, but very understandably, paddling is forbidden in the nature reserve, and we therefore embark on a ~1.5 km portage through the reserve with our boats inflated.

The least enjoyable, albeit unavoidable, part of the trip is crossing the bridge across the Ringvaart canal and the R4 motorway, on foot. Luckily, we can again put in at the other side of the bridge, and follow the old Leie river branch back to Drongen, where we arrive after having traveled 12.2 km.

Finally, an 8 km bike ride takes me back home, while the sun is setting.

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Vinderhoutse Bossen

Vinderhoute is a community to the northwest of Ghent that is surrounded by quite a bit of greenery and several castle grounds. The area is currently being developed for outdoor recreation. Last week, the central wooded zone was opened to the public, after having been acquired from a private land owner some time ago.

We make a 36 km family cycling & hiking tour that takes us from home to Vinderhoute and back, passing scenic sections of the Leie river around Drongen. In Vinderhoute, we explore some of the new hiking trails.

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Packrafting Leie

21 km of paddling on the river Leie, from Astene via Sint-Martens-Latem, Drongen and Sint-Denijs-Westrem to the marina at the other side of the Ringvaart. Departure at 9:30 am and arrival at 3:30 pm. No noticeable current but some waves and swell caused by the parade of pleasure yachts that typically starts around 11 am on any sunny Sunday during the summer season…

Fairly strenuous physical exercise, lots of greenery and many older and newer posh riverside dwellings.

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Packrafting Leie and Ringvaart

On an absolutely gorgeous Sunday in May I make an 18 km packrafting trip on the river Leie. I start at the public jetty in Sint-Martens-Latem and paddle downstream to the 3 Leien. Here I take the old branch of the river that leads to the monumental historic abbey of Drongen. Subsequently follows a stretch over the Ringvaart canal in order to rejoin the actual Leie at Krommeham. Finally, it goes via Afsnee and its early medieval church back to the 3 Leien and Sint-Martens-Latem.

I do the first 15 km in the morning (starting at 9:30 and returning at 13:30) and meet my family for a picnic at the picturesque site around the Latem jetty and 17th / 18th century Tempelhof. In the afternoon I do the remaining 3 km with no real purpose except for enjoying the gentle waters and posh pleasure yachts…

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