Enjoy this fabulous meander through the countries of the Mediterranean in the Geographical Arboretum of Tervuren
(Apologies if you have received this post twice. Soon after publishing it the first time, my site crashed and the article disappeared – and was then re-published!)
The Geographical Arboretum in Tervuren extends over 120 hectares and is a beautiful combination of open parkland, grassy valleys and dense forest. Established in 1902, hundreds of trees and shrubs from the North America, Central & Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East and the Far East of Asia are grouped in sections by region of origin. It is an outstanding place to visit for a walk.
However, it’s not what you might consider a typical formal arboretum, but more a collection of trees growing within an existing forest – in this case the Sonian Forest. This means that it is not easy to identify the arboretum’s trees from the forest trees. The fact that few of the introduced trees are labelled does not make it any easier.
At least this is what I discovered when I went on the Mediterranean Arboretum Walk. I’m going to do the other four regional walks through the arboretum in weeks to come. Maybe the trees in those areas are labelled: we shall see! The Mediterranean Walk is the red trail of 3.2 km. The description on the website of the Geographical Arboretum explains that this walk leads the walker through areas around the Mediterranean Sea, across regions of Southern Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor. Here, the guide says, you will come across trees such as the Black pine, Turkey oak, Hungarian oak, Italian alder and maple, Southern European flowering ash, Serbian spruce, Macedonian pine, Nordmann fir, Cilician fir … and many many more.
Can’t see the trees for the forest!
Unfortunately, picking out these trees from the surrounding and more familiar beeches, oaks, birches, sycamores, Scots pines, larches and spruces is an almost impossible task. The website does provide an interactive map which shows where individual trees or batches of trees are located. I began to use this at the start of the walk. But after realizing I was spending a lot of time scrolling, expanding the map, and peering at my phone, I abandoned this plan and put the phone in my pocket, where it should belong on a country walk. Oh if only the trees were labelled!
So I put aside any attempt to identify specific trees and simply enjoyed a glorious walk in beautiful surroundings.
The walk begins at the southern end of Eikestraat, 3080 Tervuren. Here is a small car park, as well as a place to lock up your bike. By bus, De Lijn bus no. 317 stops at the Tervuren Eikestraat bus stop at the northern end of Eikestraat. You can get there from Kraainem metro station, which is easily accessible from the center of Brussels. From the other direction, bus 317 leaves Leuven station and goes directly to Tervuren Eikestraat. From there it’s a 7 minute (700 m) walk to the starting point.
The map below is basically the red Mediterranean walk but I have extended it to include a nearby lake. It’s now 4.5 km long so is ideal for a couple of hours of gentle strolling. You can download the map as a PDF, or get the GPX track for your device from my RouteYou page. You could also just stick to the Red route (3.2 km) through the forest.
A word of warning, there is also an orange route, and if like me you sometimes have difficulty telling a faded red from orange, you might find yourself on a completely different track!
While the individual trees may not be labelled, each geographical region is:
The walk is well signposted and is suitable for children but not for buggies. However, the broader paths and drives through the arboretum are ideal for buggies.
And the trees of course are the stars!
Interspersed are some lovely areas of mature parkland:
And as I mentioned, my extended walk takes you around a picturesque little lake:
Here and there you’ll find a strategically located bench, although there are plenty of logs and tree trunks to sit on too:
So altogether, this is a delightful walk through part of the Geographical Arboretum. Parts of the arboretum are very popular, especially on a sunny Sunday. The main walk is called the Royal Walk which follows the larger forest drives. This Mediterranean Walk however is slightly off the beaten track so you should find it quite peaceful, even on a sunny weekend.
Let me know how you get on, either in the comments below or by contacting me, also if you have any questions.