Wij gaan niet ver weg

I remember a song from a children’s show, singing the merits of holidaying close to home. A talking bobtail dog and his owner describe the beauties of the Belgian coastline (see the video  for a lovely nostalgia trip) and, as an another viewer commented, the complete absence of the immense crowds that normally hoard our beaches and dunes.

But I give credit for the bobtail for encouraging the discovery of whatever is closeby. I didn’t have much hope for finding a ‘pure’ camping spot, because Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg are some of the only European countries where free camping is a big no-no.

Boy! Was I happy to see that just two years ago, three spots opened for something called ‘pole camping’. There’s a groundwater pump, and within 10 meters it’s a-okay to pitch a tent. Lovely!

So off we are, to the region of the Kempen, close to the Dutch border. To get into a holiday mood, I asked mister GPS to avoid the highways and take the most economic route. From little town to even smaller town, untill I finally drive unto the little dirt road where you are supposed to leave the car and hike to the campground.

In size the place doesn’t measure up to the Canadian wilds, but what it lacks in volume it sure made up in sheer charm. A lovely combination of pine and leaf forest, little bit of heath and some pasture land take turns. From the camping spot there’s not a single noise from cars (pretty unique in the north of Belgium)

The region is the home of an old gang of bandits called the Bokkenrijders (buck goat riders), but my main concern are the killer mosquitos that make the forest their home.

The place is also home to a large flock of sheep, and a project has started to restore the old farm building and use the sheep for large ‘natural lawn mowing’ projects.

I share the camping spot with a young guy from the Netherlands. He just returned from a nine day trip on Scotland’s West Highland Trail, and needed something to extend the magic. Although he seems sturdy, he underestimated the effects of hiking 30 kms on asphalt road. He can’t move any more than a few meters, and he’ll have to return another time to actually explore the nature reserve.

I on the other hand get to enjoy it twice. Once as a long evening hike, and once as a morning run. It seems a lot of trails are horse friendly, and the campsite itself seems to welcome horseback campers too. Now if that’s doesn’t start your imagination to go wild, what would?

After dropping off the still cripple Dutchman at the train station of Tilburg, it’s time for a superslow drive home. Just one night out, and it feels like a week’s holiday!

On to the next bit of fun 🙂

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