4 quiet places in nature

4 quiet places in nature

Relax completely in the Flemish Ardennes

Life is hectic, and it isn’t always easy to find a healthy balance between all the expectations and responsibilities every day. We not only ‘must’ have a well-paying and challenging job, but we also have to maintain our circle of friends, eat healthily, exercise enough and, in some cases, raise a family. It is self-evident that one must completely escape from those busy everyday activities every now and then. Just pull the plug, take a step back and quietly get closer to yourself or each other.

It’s a misconception that you have to travel far to get away from that jam-packed agenda. The Flemish Ardennes is the perfect region for a ‘slow down’ holiday. Its unspoilt nature, beautiful greenery, breathtaking views, original places to stay, and silence make it the ideal destination to recharge your batteries and regain some energy. Below you can read all about four quiet places in nature that will give you a wonderful holiday feeling. Want to bet that you’ll return home refreshed?


Raspaille Forest: an enchanting patch of nature

On the flanks of the Bosberg, in the quiet area between the valleys of the Dender and Mark Rivers, it seems as if you are walking into a fairy tale. With its small streams, untouched paths and beautiful flowers, Raspaille Forest is an excellent place to enjoy nature in all its forms without being disturbed. In spring, flowers such as wild daffodils, wood anemone, periwinkle, bluebells and wild garlic form a patchwork of blue, white and yellow. On top of the Bosberg, you have a magnificent view of the Dender and Mark valleys. Breathe deeply and enjoy everything you see around you.

Raspaille Forest has five mapped out routes, good for about 20 km of walking pleasure, and unforgettable mountain bike trails to completely clear your head. Apart from the twittering of thousands of birds, do you hear a piercing shriek every now and then? There’s a good chance that this cry comes from a bird of prey. When they migrate south, the Mark and Dender Rivers are important landmarks. That’s why Raspaille Forest has an active raptor population. You’ll find little owls, buzzards, kestrels and hawks in great numbers here.

Would you like to increase your knowledge of the area and its flora and fauna after a strenuous walk? Then be sure to pop into De Helix, a nature education centre. A visit to the three permanent exhibitions ‘Environment and Health’, ‘Silence and Noise’ and ‘Open map. A close look at the region’ brings you closer to the nature around you. De Helix offers many other activities: more cycling routes and hikes, an educational garden, family activities, themed walks, etc.

Discover this enchanting patch of nature 


Het Burreken: panoramic views in a unique landscape

Admit it, clearing your head is a bit easier when you can enjoy panoramic views in silence. The place to be for this is without doubt Het Burreken nature reserve in Brakel. With its varied landscape of hills and valleys, you are immersed in a unique atmosphere. The highest point is 116 m, a dizzying height by Flemish standards. The inclines are steep and have been appropriately labelled ‘leg killers’. The best view is from the lookout tower in Brakel. Once you have braved the steel construction’s 165 steps, you can see for miles. When the weather is good, you can even see as far as Ghent or spot the cooling towers in Doel. And all that while it’s as quiet as a mouse all around you.

Het Burreken has a lot more to offer than just its panoramas. You can visit a blackberry garden with a collection of 45 native and regional blackberry varieties. More fruit can be found in the orchard at Perreveld, where you can pick an apple. Do you want to become one with nature? Then head to the ‘knuffelbos’ where it’s compulsory to hug the trees. You can even adopt one if you want. Children can romp around safely in the ‘play forest’. Because even the youngest among us occasionally need a break from their everyday activities.

Het Burreken nature reserve is also the right place for beautiful walks. There are several routes ranging from 4 to 26 km. On the Fire Salamander route, you might even manage to spot the yellow-black amphibian. The animal deposits its larvae in small brooks and mainly lives at night or in rainy weather. The nature reserve is also home to dragonflies, various butterfly species, forest birds such as the great and lesser spotted woodpecker, and birds of prey such as buzzards and sparrow hawks. Foxes, weasels, hedgehogs, and polecats also wander around in Het Burreken. In spring, you’ll be overwhelmed by breathtaking carpets of flowers. The sight of celandine, yellow archangel, snowdrops, wood anemones and bluebells instantly makes you happy. The perfect remedy for constant brooding and stress attacks.

Discover Het Burreken’s panoramic views 

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Kaaimeersen: spotting waterfowl on the banks of the Scheldt River

With its marshy ground and swamps, a mystical atmosphere hangs over Kaaimeersen in Zwalm. It’s best to bring boots or sturdy walking shoes for a trip along the banks of the Scheldt River. A large part of the nature reserve is flooded every winter and spring. The wettest parts of the trail, which take you past untouched nature and rare plants, are bridged by wooden corduroy paths. Because of its moist soil, Kaaimeersen is also the ideal wintering and breeding ground for typical but also rare meadow birds and waders, such as the pintail, coot, Canadian goose, grey heron, teal, greenshank, redshank and peewit. All these birds can best be admired from the observation hut. You’ll find it at the end of the path that starts opposite De Kaaihoeve.

Speaking of De Kaaihoeve, this provincial nature education centre is definitely worth a stop. Numerous clubs and schools from the area come here for a day of learning with two feet in nature. They learn about caring for the environment at school and about climate-friendly playgrounds. They also get to know the different inhabitants of the reserve. But a visit with the family or friends is also possible. View the fascinating exhibition and enjoy the lush surroundings. You can replenish your energy thanks to the absolute peace that prevails here in the building and the garden, where you’ll find a water purification system. And it’s free!

The villages near Kaaimeersen are also characterised by a picturesque and peaceful atmosphere. The ‘Past Charming Villages’ walking route takes you past breathtaking landscapes and cosy little squares for 11 km. It’s the perfect mix between villages and nature. The authentic cafés and restaurants along the way are the ideal place to fill your stomach and quench your thirst.

Come and spot some waterfowl in Kaaimeersen 

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Kordaal Forest: a great diversity of trees and plants

Kordaal Forest in Kruishoutem lies in a deep, short dale. With an area of 3 ha, it’s limited in size but you’ll still find a great diversity of plants and animals. Due to its small size, it’s always wonderfully peaceful. The strongly meandering Kordaalbeek, a stream that originates 1 km east of the forest, runs through the centre of the area. As a result, there is a permanently high water level, which is the ideal environment for many plants and animals.

Birds, in particular, love the damp soil and trees of Kordaal Forest. Bird watchers can admire the sparrow hawk, hen harrier, fieldfare, redwing, kestrel, and short-toed tree creeper, among others. It’s also a paradise for some breeding birds like the great spotted woodpecker. And we haven’t even mentioned the pairs of little owls that have their nesting place in the pollard willows at the edge of the forest. In spring, you’ll be overwhelmed by a vast colour palette of giant horsetails, primroses, and yellow marigolds. You’ll also find celandine, wood anemone, Salomon’s seal, yellow archangel, bluebells, and yellow pimpernels. In the most humid places, you may also come across a guelder rose. In higher, drier areas, the landscape is dominated by pedunculate oak, chestnut, poplar, birch, and hazel trees. The whole area is best discovered via the Kordaal walking route, which also takes you past Nokere Castle: a classical water castle from 1727 with several ponds, gardens, and woods. There is also a forest garden – a jungle of edible treats and an abundance of scents, colours, and fluttering butterflies – in the vicinity.

Discover the diversity of Kordaal Forest 

As you can see, the Flemish Ardennes are the perfect region to recharge your batteries in peace and quiet. There are also several places to stay in the middle of nature where you can travel to the land of Nod after a day of pleasant walks or bike rides. Time to put aside your to-do lists and make time only for yourself and those around you. There is only one thing on the agenda in the Flemish Ardennes: enjoying the tranquillity.