Discover the coast with a weekend of walking
Walkers are invited to head to the Flemish coast for two days of hiking, eating, live music and heritage, courtesy of the International Two-Day Walk of Flanders, which sets off from Blankenberge next month
See the other side
Yet every year since 1969, thousands of people have come to Blankenberge to walk. They take part in the International Two-Day Walk of Flanders, which this year takes place on 2 and 3 May.
Aside from enjoying fresh sea air and partaking in exercise, the event will introduce you to the surprising other side of this busy seaside town and the surrounding area. You’ll discover the dunes and the polder nature reserves, the historic site of Lissewegge, the street markets in Zuienkerke, as well as old fishing harbours, windmills, village churches and war memorials.
Authentic cafes will open their doors to you, restaurants and brasseries will entice you with their seafood, local bands will serenade you and thousands of locals will cheer you on, shouting encouragement in their incomprehensible dialect.
So what’s on the programme? You can keep things simple with the gentle 6km family walk, designed for children of all ages. Entertainment is provided on the route with strategically located bouncy castles, face painting, a fun park and a workshop on life in the North Sea.
The 15km route is always popular with youth groups, scouts and schools, and offers time to take a dip in the sea or sit and enjoy the seascape.
Catch the bug
Regular walkers might be attracted by the 24km nature walk. But if you really want to impress your colleagues on Monday morning, the 42km walk will give you something to crow about. Unless you’re at home tending to your blisters, that is.
On either day, you can start whenever you want between 10.00 (8.00 for the 42km route) and 15.00. On Sunday the festivities begin at 15.00 with a musical extravaganza and the award ceremony: Everyone who completes a walk gets a medal.
The Saturday walks take in the villages of Zeebrugge, Lissewegge, Dudzele, Heist and Uitkerke, while on Sunday you can discover Wenduine, De Haan, Vlissegem, Houtave, Meetkerke, Zuienkerke and Uitkerke.
Registration is best done in advance to avoid the queues. However, if you’d rather wait to see what the weather’s like, you can register on the day in the market square. The fee varies according to distance but starts at €5. Several hotels and campsites are offering special deals for the weekend. You can also register through Walk for Think Pink and raise money to support breast cancer research and awareness.
But take care – you might catch the walking bug. If so, you might end up treating Blankenberge as training for the Four Days of the Ijzer, from 18 to 21 August, when you can join 40,000 people walking up to 32km on each of the four days.
million visitors annually