Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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LLT: Achouffe

A surprisingly strenuous 16 km hike with the “Lustige Lochtingterters” (LLT) around the village of Achouffe in the Belgian Ardennes. Nice river valleys with plenty of beaver activity and wonderful vistas over the hilly and forested landscape. We see one beaver swimming towards its burrow and later on I also spot a beaver in the thicket. Only of the first sighting I manage to get a (unfortunately very bad) shot.

Quite a chilly day for the end of April, with a high of 8°C and showers of rain and hail.

Pictures > Belgium 2019-04-27: Achouffe

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LLT: Lac de Virelles

This month’s hike with the “Lustige Lochtingterters” (LLT) takes me on a 18 km loop around the lake of Virelles, nearby the historial town of Chimay. The terrain is undulating and partly forested, and especially nice are the ubiquitous beds of early wildflowers. Strangely, the lake itself is hardly visible during the entire walk.

After the hike, I drive to Seloignes and from there hike through meadows and woods to a location where bivouacking is permitted. I pitch my tent and enjoy a cosy campfire until the evening falls. The reason for spending the night in a tent rather than returning home is that tomorrow I am scheduled to go packrafting a section of the nearby Viroin river…

Pictures > Belgium 2019-03-23: Virelles

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LLT: Polders of the River Scheldt

The last hike of the year with the “Lustige Lochtingterters” (LLT) takes us to an interesting area of polders on the southern shores of the river Scheldt, just west of the busy international sea port of Antwerp.

We start in Emmadorp on Dutch soil, cross the border to Belgium and hike through Prosper polder. Prosper polder has been impoldered in 1846, but large parts of it are being returned to the tidal processes of the river. After lunch we again cross the border to the Netherlands and hike through Hedwige polder, which will be entirely unpoldered in the not too distant future, in order to compensate for recent extensions of the port of Antwerp. Finally, we reach the “Verdronken Land van Saeftinghe” (“Drowned Land of Saeftinghe”), which used to be a fertile polder from the 13th until the 16th century, but was taken back by the river through a series of floodings. Four villages and a castle hence disappeared from the face of the earth. The area is currently protected as a nature reserve and is actually quite unique as it is the largest brackish water tidal area in Europe.

Pictures > Belgium 2018-12-22: Scheldepolders

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LLT: Borinage

18.5 km with the “Lustige Lochtingterters” (LLT) through the Borinage region in the province of Hainaut: old mining communities and wooded terrils. The region used to be bustling with activity during the haydays of the coal mining industry, but since the last of the mines were closed in the 1960’s, decline has set in. At this moment the region has the highest unemployment rate in Belgium, and many houses and buildings are in a deplorable state.

The weather is pretty lousy throughout the entire day, with bad visibility, rainfall and relatively low temperatures. At lunch-time we erect a temporary shelter to escape the worst of the rain, and towards the end of the day we reach the UNESCO-listed industrial site of Grand-Hornu.

Due to the bad weather I leave my DSLR camera in the trunk of the car, and shoot a number of low quality cell phone pictures instead.

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LLT: De Wijers

A 21.5 km hike with the “Lustige Lochtingterters” (LLT) through De Wijers, around the open air museum of Bokrijk. Quite a bit of variety with stretches of heath, forests, ponds, mushrooms, sightings of bird species (heron, great egret, buzzard, …) and beautiful autumn colors.

Pictures > Belgium 2018-10-27: De Wijers

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