The power of nature only reveals itself when all the noise dies down. When only rustling leaves, babbling brooks and the sound of a frog croaking in the distance are all you can hear. This is why Flanders’ quiet areas are the perfect setting for a truly relaxing walk.
Speech is silver, silence is gold. According to that saying, Flanders would score highly at the flora and fauna Olympics. For the full enjoyment of nature, look for the quiet areas that can be found throughout Flanders. These are zones in natural areas which have special properties when it comes to peace and quiet. Does that mean that your decibel meter is at zero? No. Silence here does not mean the total absence of sound, but rather a pleasant and harmonious collection of natural tones. No traffic, industry or activity to notice. Only flora and fauna have their say, making these quiet areas a pleasant environment in which to relax. Here are some tips to inspire you.
A weekend in Antwerp has untold extras. The capital of cool offers you a vibrant city life, but sometimes you also want to escape the hustle and bustle. If that’s the case, then the Kalmthoutse Heide is a wonderful chance to escape. After an hour and a half train journey, you will arrive at the edge of this impressive nature park. The area is made up of some 60 km² (37 square miles) of heathland, marsh, forests and inland dunes. Thanks to this diversity, the area feels limitless. Look out on a breath-taking panoramic view from the 42-metre-high fire and watchtower and discover the vast area of silence. An area where you can lose yourself in the untouched nature; a place with an almost medicinal effect on mind and body.
If a river is the lifeline of the area through which it flows, then Dender-Mark effervesces and bubbles like no other. This quiet area is actually sandwiched between two rivers. This monument to serenity covers some 28 km² (17 square miles) of untouched nature. One part runs over the Flemish Ardennes, the region known as the backdrop for the spring cycling classics. The second covers a stretch of the Pajottenland, home to our famous lambic and geuze beers. Two wonderful expressions of our culture, although you will not run into them in this quiet area. Here you will find only peace and quiet. Surrender to nature for a wonderful walk that you hope will never end.
In the Kempen, a region in the north-east of Flanders, people have both feet on the ground. You won't find anyone making noise here. Kempen-Broek cements that feeling, the surroundings are a succession of nature areas: marshes and brook valleys, fens and forests, heath- and meadowlands, pastures and fields. You can find many rare flora and fauna here, as well as a generous dose of peace and quiet. The Flemish part of Kempen-Broek – the area is also partly in the Netherlands – also has a quiet area. Your walk there is accompanied by a whispering soundscape of natural sounds.
A long list
In our minds, we have already visited three places of almost sacred tranquillity. But the list does not end here. The possibilities are endless. About 25 minutes from Mechelen, you can find the banks of the Schelde in Bornem. In the Kempen – which we discussed earlier – there is landscape De Liereman, one of the oldest recognised nature reserves in Flanders. In Limburg, you also have the old springs area Zwartput, and the forest of Gerhagen.
You have already been introduced to some wonderful places here. We hope you come to visit them soon. Enjoy the experience, but don’t forget to do it quietly, and with reverence. Respect for Mother Nature is all that matters.