Glory of Green
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Stories from the Great Outdoors

 

If you read my last post, you might recognise the Horst Castle, not far from Leuven. This hike starts at same lovely vantage point but follows a new route.  Last trip went to the Gempemolen and back – but then I found there was a former mill serving food on the western side of the castle as well – the Blauwmolen. Maybe this is our new Belgian activity, lunching in mills. We’ve already done the one in Doel, and I guess the Netherlands has a few as well.

Horst Castle

Over: The fairytale Horst Castle 

Under: the Blauwmolen seen from the canal behind the mill

Blauwmolen

The ponds – and about not swimming in Belgium

I’ve already written about the myths and history of the Horst Castle – going back to medieval times and involving a ghost and a cartoon. This time we spent more time on the castle grounds, as the Blauwmolen mill lies a bit closer to the castle than the Gempemolen.

We started out hiking the path surrounding the pond to the east of the caste – people fishing at the bank, Alma (10) climbing trees and sun shining down it was a nice start. I almost felt like jumping in. 

Open air water in Belgium is almost never for swimming, though, but testing has been done to identify six locations in Brussels will be open for six weeks in July-August this summer. According to the Bulletin, three areas are expected to open permanently. What a great step in the right direction! I’m not sure the ponds of the Castle Horst will ever qualify, but in the vicinity of a fairy tale castle I’m allowed to dream…

To Blauwmolen – and back

The route to Blauwmolen was quite straightforward, although extremely muddy – also, the weather changed, and we had a bit of dramatic skies and thunder. Put on water proof shoes if you go here during winter or spring. I saw a guy in black-turned-brown leather loafers. Not sure if they will ever be the same again…

Blauwmolen itself is a nice area with fishing ponds, possibility for camping, wide lawns for playing, ducks and a park-like feeling. We ordered ice cream, cheese and fries and stayed inside during a heavy rainfall – perfectly timed. Over all this is a nice and down-to-earth place, although the brasserie at the old mill itself is not as charming as the one at the Gempemolen. No stuffed animals on the walls however…


The route back turned out very interesting, as we hiked mainly on direction and google maps, trying to make a circular path while struggling with small canals criss-crossing the landscape and thorny raspberry bushes. 

The path we chose took us to see sheep with four horns sprouting out of their foreheads (one actually had five) and a spooky old caravan, it tested our suppleness jumping over a narrow canal and had us exploring an old mansion surrounded be an over grown magical pond. We didn’t see another person until we were back on the hiking trails – just a lot of greenery. Cleansing!

Under: Forget about tossing your coins in a fountain - this is where the good witch and her fairies live...

On the case BADASS sheep

I can’t remember having seen sheep with four or five horns before. A bit of googling told me that what we’d seen was Hebridean sheep – a hardy and small Scottish breed. As the horns of cattle are no longer in wide spread commercial use (we’ve probably found great plastic alternatives to ruin the planet with), the farmers prefer the cattle to have less horns.

Less horns and more docile cattle cause less injuries to people, but it also makes them poor or unable to defend themselves towards predators – a test in Norway shows that the ordinary white docile sheep don’t even have the wits to properly run away from a threat. They will just prance a few steps away and wait for the wolf to come and attack them. Mom is not home!

To a modern eye the sheep we encountered looked like atomic radiation had happened to them when quite contrary, they are natures answer to fending off predators. Although a bit nervous, luckily, they weren’t too afraid to come over and chat. We took lots of photos for our eldest daughter, who played a handball match while we were hiking, knowing that she would have loved to see this.

Practical stuff

This is an easy hike, but don’t bring a stroller. Be prepared for hiking in thick mud and straying from the paths. Park at the Horst Castle and follow the map below. Refreshments can be found both at the castle and at Blauwmolen.