Hiking in Belgium

Walking around the Schulensmeer

Enjoy a short or longer walk around the Schulensmeer – Flanders’ largest man-made lake. It’s a fine way to spend a couple of hours or a whole day.

In this post I introduce you to the Schulensmeer (Schulen Lake), which I visited recently. It’s the largest man-made lake in Flanders. I describe some of the activities you can enjoy there. And I give the details of a short 6k walk around the lake, and a longer 13k walk that takes in the surrounding countryside.

Walking around the Schulensmeer

The area used to be a huge flood plain that was under water several times a year. In the 1970s it was converted into an actual lake as a back-up water basin to collect excess water from the River Demer. Over the years it’s developed into quite a multi-activity site, with something for everyone.

WATERSPORTS

The Schulensmeer is a popular location for various water sports. You can bring your own equipment to surf, sail, kayak or row, or rent something on site.

Boating on the Schulensmeer
Boating on the Schulensmeer

FISHING

The perimeter is ringed by anglers, although registration is necessary. Some of them take to the water in a variety of boats.

Fishing on the Schulensmeer
Fishing on the Schulensmeer
These are some of the species of fish they are hoping to catch

CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES

Sports and nature camps are regularly organized for children during the school holidays, always in Dutch as far as I can see.

NATURE RESERVE

The lake and surrounding fields form one of the largest nature reserves in Flanders. It’s therefore a top location for birdwatchers. In Spring some of the paths are closed to walkers to give the breeding birds some peace and quiet. But at other times you can walk through the reserve and often come face to face with geese.

Birdwatching around the Schulensmeer

No fewer than 250 different bird species have been spotted on and around the Schulensmeer, and in the surrounding Schulensbroek nature reserve.

Ducks and geese on the Schulensmeer
The goose at the bottom of the picture has clearly found a good sunny spot to sunbathe!

BRASSERIE T’VLOOT

After your chosen activity you can always retire to Brasserie t’Vloot and enjoy a drink or something to eat. In fine weather you’ll want to sit on the large terrace and enjoy the view over the lake.

Schulensmeer from the terrace
View from the terrace over the lake
Brasserie t'Vloot
View of t’Vloot from the opposite bank of the lake

HOW TO REACH THE SCHULENSMEER

The Schulensmeer is located in the west of the province of Limburg, in the triangle formed by the municipalities of Herk-de-Stad, Lummen and Halen.

By car it’s accessible via the E314 and the E313. Head towards Halen and then Linkhout and then follow the signposts indicating “Schulensmeer”. By train, the nearest station is Schulen. From there it’s a 3.7 km walk to the visitor centre. But this walk can be incorporated into the longer hike I mention below that goes all around the lake and back to the station. By bus, De Lijn buses 92 from Diest and 35 from Hasselt stop at Linkhout Schansstraat. From there it’s just a 5-minute walk down Schansstraat to the visitor centre.

A SHORT WALK AROUND THE SCHULENSMEER

Several signposted footpaths depart from the visitor centre. It’s easy to choose a route of the distance you can manage. For example, you can start at the car park/Brasserie t’Vloot and walk around the perimeter of the lake. This is a distance of 6.8 km.

Short walk around Schulensmeer

The path is broad and flat, and would be suitable for a baby buggy. There’s no chance of a child falling into the water as there’s a bit of distance between the path and the lake itself. You can even take your dog as long as it’s on a lead.

Walking around the Schulensmeer

There are a couple of benches en route. And you can get some lovely views from wherever you are.

Walking around the Schulensmeer
A walk around the Schulensmeer

And you might meet the well-known Schulensmeer sheep:

A LONGER WALK AROUND THE SCHULENSMEER

If you want to stretch your legs, here is a 13k walk. You could start and finish at the car park/Brasserie t’Vloot. Or, as indicated on the map below, you could start from the Schulen railway station. This is therefore ideal if you’re arriving by train. You’ll also notice that you can make a short-cut from the 8 km mark to shorten the route a little.

A longer 13k walk around the Schulensmeer

The whole 13k route thus takes you around the Schulensmeer, through part of the adjoining Schulensbroek nature reserve, and touches on the village of Schulen. You can also make a diversion into the village where you can find a café. (For example, Brasserie ‘t Krievelkuut at Kiezelweg 99). You can download the GPX file of this 13k route from my page at RouteYou.

Walk through the Schulensbroek nature reserve
Enjoy your walk around the Schulensmeer and the Schulensbroek nature reserve
Father and baby enjoying the view!
Or you could just sit and enjoy the view

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Finally, my friend Dieter The Photographer has been up in the air with his drone camera over the Schulensmeer. Here’s his end result:

13 replies »

    • Thanks Henry, I guess you are entering a Colombian winter. Although looking at my weather app, it looks like it’s fairly mild at the moment.

  1. It’s good that they’ve created such a great recreational resource around the lake, Denzil. It just takes a little thought and planning. 🙂 🙂

  2. On the map, the lake looks manmade, but in your photos, it looks natural and lovely. And it certainly supports quite a variety of fish!
    I’ve been meaning to mention, later this summer I hope to finally visit the Green Bay, Wisconsin area, a little over 100 miles north of here. I was interested in the Oneida reservation there (a NY tribe, that moved here in the 1800’s), and kind of overlooked the other famous residents – – that area also attracted Belgians, there’s villages called Brussels, Rosieres, etc.

    • Let’s keep in touch about this one Robert. I sense an interesting story on early Belgian pioneers and their settlements in that area

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