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 Leie

The first after-work packrafting trip of this year on nearby river Leie takes me from Leiepark Deurle to the public jetty in Sint-Martens-Latem + return on foot. About 16 km in all: 10 km paddling and 6 km walking.

I call it a day at work at 5 pm and a half hour later, I am already on the water. The evening is quiet, sunny and almost windless. The month of April has been unusually chilly thus far, but today temperatures are pleasant.

A bit before 8 pm, I reach the jetty in Sint-Martens-Latem, start walking, and by 9 pm get back to my car, just in time to witness the last bit of sunlight over the meandering river.


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Kayaking Leie – bis

Two days after my previous after-work solo kayaking trip on the river Leie, I again take to the water and paddle 12 km from the public jetty of Sint-Martens-Latem to the entrance to the Bourgoyen nature reserve, on the outskirts of Gent, passing Afsnee and Sint-Denijs-Westrem in the process. Weather is as beautiful as last time, and the atmosphere is still of a southern riviera.

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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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Packrafting the Ghent Waterways

An after-work evening paddle with Glen and Evert through the historic center of the city of Ghent.

We put in at Korenlei, first paddle back and forth to Rabot, and then make a counterclockwise circumvention of the heart of the city. We pass through the vaults below Laurent square, descend the slide at the Scaldis locks and regain the 1.20 m height difference by portaging the St-Joris locks. Sun sets and the nicely lit historic buildings add an extra dimension to the trip…

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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 & Hiking the Leie Region

A bit of a strange impromptu packrafting and hiking trip in the Leie region on Sunday, 30.2 km in all. I first paddle from the Astene drawbridge to the public jetty in Sint-Martens-Latem, subsequently hike home for lunch, hike back to the jetty, and finally hike all the way to where my car is parked in Astene.

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