Here’s an invigorating circular walk of 10 km on the farmland plateau above the pretty little village of Mélin.
Mélin is a small village in Brabant Wallon and has been voted as one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie (The Most Beautiful Villages of Wallonia). It’s certainly pretty enough and well worth a bit of an exploration. But don’t expect anything like some of the stunningly gorgeous villages of the Ardennes.
The walk starts on the Place de Mélin where there is nearby car parking space and the Mélin Eglise bus stop. I notice that buses 18 and 362 stop here, from nearby Jodoigne as well as from Leuven and Tienen. As always, you can save/print the map below. The GPX track for your device is on my RouteYou page.
You might like to spend some time pottering around the village. I wandered around a little but was itching to get into the surrounding countryside. However, I did see these sights:
So, there’s enough here to occupy you for an hour if you like exploring villages. But I wanted to get on with the walk. The route soon leads you out of the village and onto the plateau above Mélin.
I was lucky in that the day was about the only gorgeous day we’ve had for a couple of weeks. So it was quite exhilarating to be out in the open under the sun. Mind you, there was a chilly Arctic wind!
The walk is signposted with green arrows; for the most part pretty clearly.
You’ll see on the map there is a short extension in the far north-east corner of the route. It’s so you can pay a visit to Wahenges Farm. Apparently on this site there used to be a Gallo-Roman villa. The farm that you can see was built between 1718 and 1784. It didn’t seem to be inhabited, but it looks in good condition and it would be a shame if it wasn’t put to some good use.
In a field directly opposite the farm was this strange one-room construction. Inside it was a table and a couple of chairs, and the remains of a small fireplace. From the look of it, it’s been lived in, but who would choose to live there and for what purpose is beyond me. Does anyone know?
Another mystery was in the field beyond this dwelling place. Fifity or so wooden cable drums. They looked as if they’d been arranged in a circle rather than just dumped there. Again, if anyone can enlighten me, please do so!
Past the tiny hamlet of Sart-Mélin is this, which I can explain!
The KW line was a Belgian anti-tank barrier installed between Koningshooikt in the province of Antwerp, and nearby Wavre (hence the name KW). It was basically a 60-km defensive line against the German invasion at the start of World War II. It was built between September 1939 and May 1940. The fortifications consisted of a series of bunkers, anti-tank ditches, and steel structures. You probably don’t need me to tell you if it worked or not.
Around the southern leg of the walk you can enjoy more great views over the surrounding countryside.
So there you are. A very pleasant country walk and a good dose of fresh air.
Some parts are quite muddy. Mud in Belgium is like snow in the Himalayas or sand in the Sahara. It should come as no surprise. Much of Brabant-Wallon, and elsewhere in Belgium, is flat, low-lying, and is blessed with a heavy clay-like soil. Add the fact that Belgium gets a lot of rain – especially recently – and you can imagine what the country paths are like. Especially after a few massive John Deeres or Massey Fergusons have passed through!
On this route, there is one particularly wet and muddy section, just after the 2 km mark on the map. On the map you can see that you need to turn left. This stretch is currently (mid-December) waterlogged and looks like it will remain so for the rest of the winter. I advise getting up onto the surrounding farmland and walking along the edge of the field.
I hope you enjoy this walk. Any questions, add them below or contact me. And if you have not yet subscribed to Discovering Belgium, now’s your chance:
Many thanks to Ignace Clarysse from the nearby Enchanted Garden in Jodoigne. He explains that both the little hut and the cable drums are the work of Julos Beaucarne, a Belgian poet, actor, writer, singer and sculptor. He was born in 1936 and died just three months ago, in September 2021. In the 2000s, Julos made a sculpture with recovered industrial cable drums. He then exhibited them in this field near Wahenges Farm. What you can see in the photo above is what remains. Here’s a photo of them in their prime:
More on Wahenges Farm
Discovering Belgium reader Jacques Willems, who is also a skilled amateur photographer, contacted me with more insights into Wahenges Farm. In his capacity as a volunteer heritage photographer he visited the farm last year and talked with the owner, who lives there, Muriel de Peñaranda. Her late husband Philippe de Peñaranda, used to run the farm. He got permission to explore the farm, enter the courtyard and take some pictures. They are well worth a visit:
He also shared some lovely photos of the church in Mélin: Notre Dame de la Visitation.
More on Mélin
Finally, Jacques pointed me to this in-depth article on Mélin by local nature guide and historian Ernst Gülcher. It’s in Dutch and extremely long (8000+ words!) but flicking through the photographs will give you a good overview of what you can see in the village.
Thanks for the great tips Jacques, and as ever it’s a joy to look at your excellent photos!