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A Hiking Paradise

by J L Putman, M Soenen, & W Willems

A visit to the child friendly Het Heuvelland Visitor Centre is an excellent start to any hike in this region. Here the landscape on and around the Kemmelberg is presented in an atmospheric way.

From the Belvédère lookout tower at the top of the Kemmelberg one can enjoy a fantastic panorama and agree that the Kemmelberg and its surroundings are extremely suitable for hiking. Eight picturesque villages - Dranouter, Kemmel, Loker, Nieuwkerke, De Klijte, Westouter, Wijtschate, and Wulvergem - were merged in 1977 to form the municipality of Heuvelland. Even on foot they are worth a voyage of discovery.

Belvédère lookout tower
Photo © Philippe Vercoutter

Belvédère lookout tower.

This originally-wooden tower was built in 1888. It was one of the first tourist attractions within what is now the municipality of Heuvelland. The fact that a bear lived in a cage at the bottom of the tower was of course viewed at the time as an extra asset. The First World War saw the tower being razed to the ground. Six years after the end of the war, the current stone tower was erected in its place.

The scenic variety on and around the Kemmelberg is sufficiently large within a relatively short distance. The panoramas which can be witnessed along the way can best be admired whilst walking.

Kemmelberg scenery
Photo © Philippe Vercoutter

Kemmelberg scenery.

The Heuvelland hiking network is very extensive. This numbered junction system consists of 270km of sloping roads along the West Flemish hills, and the network also crosses part of French Flanders. The network map allows walkers to plan their own route 'à la carte'.

You can walk around the Kemmelberg via an eight kilometre-long walking trail which is popular with hikers. The path starts at the town hall in Heuvelland (at Kemmel-Warande Park), and proceeds via the Kemmelberg's south flank, taking you through young forests, orchards, and vineyards.

Then you will be able to explore the Monteberg and ascend to the French 'Ossuaire' (the military cemetery). From there the Lokerdreef leads you to the Kattenkerkhofstraat, the play forest, and then back to the starting point.

Lokerdreef, Kemmelberg
Photo © Philippe Vercoutter

Lokerdreef, Kemmelberg.

Are there mountain gnomes on the Kemmelberg? Come and explore, and play, on a trip of three kilometres along the Kabouterpad ('Gnome Path') in the Warande park. Wooden gnomes and animals show you the way: ideal for families with children of up to eight years old.

Sculpture of mountain gnome
Photo © William Willems

Sculpture of mountain gnome.



Text copyright © Archeo Kemmelberg. An original feature for the History Files: Kemmelberg.