Monday, 2 April 2018

Visiting the Duinengordel dune belt nature area, Limburg, Belgium

Visiting Duinengordel, Limburg, Belgium

We have recently returned from our third holiday to Center Parcs Erperheide in Belgium, and for the first time we ventured out to explore the nearby Duinengordel nature area. I'm not sure why we had not heard of it before as we've definitely been missing out!

Duinengordel parking at Oudsberg Heidedal

The Duinengordel is about a half hour drive away from Center Parcs Erperheide and it's an easy drive through a couple of small, quiet towns. You can find out lots of information on the website here - Duinengordel - although most of the information that I could find when planning our trip was in Dutch. I found this part of the website most helpful - Duinengordel walking network - and we decided that we would visit the Oudsberg network as this seemed to be closest to the dunes. The website lists some of the main starting points and car parks, but from looking at the map we realised that many of them start a few kilometres away from the actual dunes which was a bit too far for us with the children. So we parked just by the Heidedal campsite (Kampplaats Heidedal). 

From here there are two short circular signposted walks - one at 1km takes you around the edge of one of the large dunes, the other is slightly longer at 2km and takes you beyond the dune a short way into the forest before you return to the car park. We ended up taking the slightly longer walk. There are no facilities here at the starting point, just the noticeboard with a map. The car park itself is quite small but there is plenty of space to park along the road.

Walking entrance to Duinengordel at Oudsberg

It only takes a couple of minutes to walk from the car park to the dunes down a sandy path. The route was quite easy to follow, and there is a large clearly marked area in the centre which is the 'Speelplaats' or play area. This is a huge sandy dune which you can play in and run up and down. We visited on a sunny day and the colour of the sand really was beautiful and golden, and despite it being a warm day at the end of March we had it almost to ourselves.

Visiting the Duinengordel, Oudsberg, Belgium

We followed the path around the edge of the large dune, and stopped for quite a while so that the children could play in the sand and climb the twisty trees. A group of horse riders passed us, and there are many paths through the dunes which are marked out as bridleways. There are also marked areas which have restricted access to protect them.

Visiting Duinengordel from Erperheide, Oudsberg, Belgium

Walking through the forest back to the car was really peaceful with bright yellow butterflies fluttering past. The walk was the perfect length for us, it was quite hard going at first but that was masked by the excitement of climbing through the sand, then nice and level back through the forest. It was a lovely trip out for a couple of hours, we'll definitely be visiting again if we find ourselves back in the area!

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