Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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Dode IJzer route

The “Dode IJzer route” is an easy 9 km hiking loop starting in the village of Roesbrugge, in the west of the country. The route crosses the river IJzer and passes by the quaint village of Haringe.

Weather has been unusually cold and rainy during the month of May so far, with little opportunities for walks under dry conditions. We however manage to do our hike without any precipitation, while back home rain showers keep on passing by.

Belgium 2021-05-15: Dode IJzer route


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Packrafting IJzer

On Ascension Day, I make a solo day tour of 33 km by packraft and on foot through the valley of the river IJzer, in the west of the country.

I put in at the beautiful jetty of Roesbrugge around 10 am and paddle upstream in the direction of the French border. The river quickly narrows, is slightly overgrown in places, and leads through an attractive agricultural landscape. At the other side of the border, the river narrows further, becomes less deep and the countercurrent is noticeable. I pass the bridge under road D947, scare an owl out of its nest, pass a number of obstructions of plant residues and eventually arrive at a place about 1 km short of Bambecque where I have to turn around, as the depth of the water becomes insufficient for comfortable paddling. I return to Roesbrugge around 12:30 pm.

Interesting to mention is that on the French part of the river, there are a number of stretches with lush underwater vegetation, surprisingly clean water and plenty of big fish that are easily observable. I’m assuming that these are spawning areas for some of the river IJzer’s fish species.

In the afternoon, I paddle downstream from Roesbrugge to Stavele, and then further until the locks at Fintele. Even though it rains profusely during the entire stretch, I do enjoy it as there is nobody on the water and there is virtually no wind.

While taking out in Fintele, clouds break and it becomes pleasantly sunny. I hike back to Roesbrugge along the river and much enjoy the beautiful landscape and intense colors.

I return to my car in Roesbrugge at 7 pm after 22 km of packrafting and 11 km of hiking. In fact, I have done today’s trip twice before, however this time it was slighter longer than previously, as I managed to get further into France than before, and also managed to paddle until Fintele, instead of Stavele or Elzendamme.


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Packrafting IJzer

A 20 km solo trip on a pretty murky but nevertheless dry December Saturday.

I put in at 9:30 am in Roesbrugge and paddle the river IJzer upstream towards the French border. The river soon narrows, and I spot several bird species such as common cormorant, kingfisher and coot. I meet an obstruction consisting of tree logs, plant residues and – unfortunately – plastic junk, but manage to get through.

I enter into France, meet another manageable obstruction and notice that the counter current substantially increases. I arrive at the bridge under the D947 departmental road, and – contrary to what is mentioned in online reports – do manage to continue. Eventually I however meet another obstruction just before the confluence with Ruisseau d’Houtkerque, decide not to conquer it, and head back.

The downstream paddle back to Roesbrugge is quite a bit less strenuous and quite a bit faster than the upstream paddle. I get back at 12:30 pm, decide not to take a rest, and just continue to Stavele. The river is wider now, but still scenic.

I arrive at the drawbridge in Stavele, and although in principle I still would have time to continue to Elzendamme or even Fintele, I take out since a nasty wind starts blowing. I have lunch, and hike back to Roesbrugge where I arrive at 3:15 pm.

Unfortunately: forgot to take my head strap, so no PoV GoPro footage, only low quality cell phone shots…

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