Haspengouw – Cycling through the fruit region

In spring Haspengouw comes into bloom as this is a region of orchard farms, which finds itself as its most beautiful from April – May with a wash of gorgeous cherry, apple, or pear blossom. Although we cannot predict exactly when they will flower, if you are lucky enough to see them it will be an experience not worth missing. However, fear not if you can’t make it in spring as Haspengouw is delightful all year round. This route serves low lying-hills, charming castles, luscious agricultural land, woodlands, historical towns, and of course the previously mentioned orchards. This is the largest centre of fruit production in Western Europe due to the moist and fertile soil. For part of the trip, you will see some strikingly different scenery in the Campine Region, an area of marshland and 1001 ponds! Discover the beautiful university town of Hasselt and other towns such as Diest, Sint Truiden and Tienen. If you fancy a taste of beer, you can also visit Hoegaarden brewery! Finally, once in Flanders don’t miss out on “Carbonnade”, a beef and onion stew braised with beer.

Calender 8 days

Difficulty: Leisurely

From £940.00 P/P

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Itinerary

After making your own way to Hasselt, make your first impressions of this diverse, progressive, and welcoming city; whose ambition is aimed at environmental sustainability. There’s an array of activities for you to do such as the new Town Hall “’t Scheep”, the fashion museum or visit a 19th century liquor distillery in the National Jenever Museum. If you have an interest in contemporary art and design, you can head for Z33. If you fancy some peace before setting off on your adventure, check out the Japanese garden.

It’s time to set off from Hasselt and head towards Alken via the valley of the River Mombeek. Before reaching your destination of Sint-Truiden, you’ll make a diversion towards the park of Vinne, which is special for homing the only natural lake in Flanders. Not only does it boast this title, but it’s also on a major bird migration route with an array of birds including the Red-Rumped Swallow, Squacco Heron and Little Bittern. Cycling and birdwatching can be thirsty work, so now is the perfect time for a drink at the alcohol distillery of Wilderen. After your on-route activities, arrive at your stay for the night in Sint Truiden. This town is not shy of religious buildings and monuments from years gone by and it’s the ideal location to eat some fresh fruit in the abundance of shops selling it.

Kick off the day energetically by climbing the 196 steps to the top of Trudo’s Abbey tour, which provides excellent views of the town. Then it’s time to get back onto the pedals and head onto the rolling roads of Haspengouw, which provide views of the gorgeous fruit-growing region. After lunch you’ll reach Hoegaarden renowned for its brewery, we highly recommend a visit to the interactive visitors’ centre. Before reaching Tienen, we will alter the route slightly to avoid some painful cobbled paths. Enjoy an evening in Tienen.

Time to depart Tienen and head somewhere with different scenery. You’ll head through wooded country estates and in Tielt-Winge where you’ll visit a very curious viewpoint. This is called Vlooybergtoren, its rusty stairs and precarious angle make it appear it will tumble any given time. As you continue there’s an amazing castle vineyard on the way. You’ll next stop in Scherpenheuvel, which is Belgium’s most important pilgrimage site, and is home to the oldest central-plan domed church in the Low Countries. After day already filled with delights, you’ll achieve one more when you arrive in Dienst. This is considered one of travellers’ best kept secrets as it is yet to be hit by mass tourism. There is a gorgeous and open main square accompanied by cute side roads and alleys. Look at the courtyard beguinage which is one of the oldest, most stunning and intact ones in Europe. The River Demer flows through the town and there are copious ways to enjoy it; the boardwalk, cycling path, steps, and seating. This is a true delight to enjoy as it was previously covered up.

It’s time to head through a location that was once visited and resided by very few people due to its boggy and bleak landscape. Today it’s a great tranquil getaway, it is called the Campine region (Kempen). In Zichem climb the 14th-century tower to get a great view of the area from above. Settle down for a small break at Averbode Abbey and then head through Helschot Woods, you may find yourself inspired just as the well-loved Flemish author Wille Elsschot (1882 – 1960) used to be here. Finally, take a stroll in Tichelbroek nature reserve, which is characterised by a lake, marshes, hayfields and woods.

Spend the whole day in spitting distance from the Grote Nete River that winds through the Campine region. Once past Meerhout, you will lose some distance from the river and enter the mining region of Limburg. Mining completely characterises the landscape here and you can learn more about the history in the mining museum of Beringen. Next, it’s time to head between the trees in Heusden-Zolder and Houthalen-Helchteren. For a last taste of the gorgeous nature around here, discover the land of 1001 Ponds which is the Wijers. Wander around the ponds appreciating the reflections and vibrant plants. After this you will head to your destination of Hasselt.

Enjoy one last breakfast and then make your way home.

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Route overview

Start point: Hasselt

End: Hasselt

Distance: approx. 268km

Mostly flat route with some gentle gradients, low in traffic.

What’s included

  • Double room with private facilities
  • Standard Bike Hire
  • Breakfast and dinner when half board supplement is paid
  • Luggage Transfer
  • English roadbook + map
  • Handy roadbook holder
  • VAT
  • Booking costs

Not included

  • Flights to/from the start and finish
  • Evening meals (unless stated)
  • Local daily taxes (Payable at the hotel)
  • Helmets
  • Water Bottles
  • Travel Insurance
  • Bike Insurance (unless stated)
  • Welcome Meetings (unless stated)
  • Transfers (unless included)
Whats included

Check Availability

We have put together a fantastic selection of self-guided cycling holidays throughout Europe. All prices shown are per person and exclude flights.

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