Western Flanders – Bruges, the coast and ‘Flanders Fields’

Discover an area rich with WW2 history and of where famous war-time poems have been written, for example by John McCrae in 1915. One of the favourites of this tour is the delightful town of Bruges, the town has a wonderful medieval look due to a perfect mixture of preservation and renovation.

You’ll also be able to see the cobbles Belgium is so famous for, and the beautiful swan lake making you feel that you are in a true fairy tale. Enjoy the highlights of Ypres too, which was resorted after WW2 and now tells the story of the town’s cloth production in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Calender 8 days

Difficulty: Leisurely

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Highlights large icon

Itinerary

After making your own way to Veurne, it’s time to acquaint yourself with the awe-inspiring beauty of this quaint old town. The main market square is considered one of the most beautiful in Belgium.

It’s time for your first day on the pedals, head up the North Sea Coast. For art lovers there is an opportunity to visit a museum dedicated to painter Paul Delvaux (1897 – 1994). As you go further you will reach the famous beach resort of Koksijde, where you can find the biggest dune on the coast, which was a vital guide for sailors at sea. Then head along to Nieuwpoort, where a well-known battle took place in 1600 AD between a Spanish and Dutch army, which included English and Scottish regiments. You can also pay a visit to Went Front visitors’ centre to learn about the events here between 1914 – 1918. Round off your day with a gorgeous sunset in the beach resort Oostende!

You will want plenty of time to explore Bruges, so we have planned a short journey to get there. On route a great spot to take a break is the village of Stalhille. Below the church tower you will find Antonie Demonie, a master of many trades, glassblower, basket weaver, beekeeper. Soak in the views of the polders, enjoy a cup of honey tea or a glass of honey beer. After this you can stroll through a calm nature reserve called the Meetkerse Moeren. This is a low-lying, open wetland characterised by free growing wildflowers and meadows. Here Marilandicsa poplars are being reintroduced to provide refuge for bats and birds. After these sites, it’s time to head to finish off the day in Bruges! This truly is a town to admire during the day and at night.

Today’s trail takes you through the leafy Houtland region. It is sprinkled with gorgeous castles and country estates. Near Oostkamp you can admire Pecsteen, Raepenburgh and Lakebos castles. Before arriving in Roeselaere stop off in Torhout, Gitsberg and Hooglede.

Enjoy the gorgeous Rhodesgoed woods, a project created in 1995 with the planting of poplar, willow, and later slow-growing oak, ash, cherry, and beech. Today it’s also mingled with a wildflower meadow. The area is home to many types of species of plants and animals, including water animals thanks to the ponds and Rhodebeek brook. Afterwards take a short stop in the town of Izegem, famous for shoes – those with a keen eye for them will enjoy the halls of Eperon d’Or museum. Here you can check out the finest “Chaussure d’Iseghem,” shoes and the process of shoe production, giving you a glimpse into the town’s industrial heritage. Next is time to go through the open-plan landscape of West Flanders onto Kortrijk on the River Leie (Lys). Enjoy a wander around the town, catching the Belfry, Town hall, beguinage and Gravenkapel, a chapel and mausoleum for the Counts of Flanders. See the medieval Broel towers which were previously part of the town’s fortifications and protected the stone bridge over the river. If you’re lucky and catch St. Anthony’s church of the Passionist Fathers, it’s worth a visit due to its spectacular array of colours.

Time to leave town via the River Leie and go to the border town of Menen (Menin). Here there is a rich history, with a wonderful museum displaying the town’s military history, and in Menen War Cemetery you can pay respect to the 48,000 German soldiers who are buried there. There is more history in your next location of Dadizele and Zonnebeke with the ‘Passchendaele 1917’ Memorial Museum, devoted to the battle of Passchendaele. Continue your journey on foot to the Tyne Cot Cemetery, which lies 3-km away. Here lay nearly 12,000 commonwealth graves and a list of a further 35,000 soldiers with no known grave. You’ll also see Polygon woods which were the site of the First, Second and Third Battles of Ypres. Also find two British war cemeteries as well as memorials for soldiers from Australia and New Zealand in the pinewoods. The day is rounded off in Ypres, where there’s a free app available to help navigate. Here you can visit the ‘In Flanders Fields’ museum in the Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall) right on the main Market Square. Enjoy a daily ceremony that takes place every day at 8pm under the Memin Gate memorial to pay homage to all the soldiers who lost their lives in the trenches and whose graves remain unnamed.

Learn the stories of Allies wounded in Ypres who were transported to Lijssenthoek, just outside of Poperinge. From 1915 lay four large British field hospitals with 4000 beds, 97% of the patients recovered and went on. However, the names of 11,000 soldiers with varying nationalities who sadly lost their lives in Lijssenthoek Millitary Cemetery. The visitors’ centre is a work in progress as they gather more and more photographs and stories. Now to some more light-hearted cycling to Poperinge, a town that boasts a Gothic Town Hall and three gothic churches. You can also visit the Hop Museum where vibrant characters tell you about Belgian beer and hop culture. You’ll later pass St. Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren, where monks prey, read, and do manual work in the brewery! This is one of six Belgian abbeys that brew Trappist beer. It’s then time to head for your end point of Veurne via the meandering roads of West Flanders, passing glimmering streams, dotted villages and copious cropfields.

Enjoy one last breakfast and then make your way home

Route large icon

Route overview

Start point: Veurne (Fumes)

End: Veurne

Distance: approx. 268km

Very well signposted route, cycling-by-numbers system. Goes along country lanes, forest and cycling paths. You’ll pass curved streams, straight canals, go behind sand dunes and past the sea. Views will include gorgeous meadows and numerous crop fields.

What’s included

  • Overnight in 3 and 4 star hotels
  • Breakfast (buffet)
  • Route description and maps
  • Luggage Transfer
  • Tourist Tax

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

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