Looking for tranquillity or adventure? You’ll find them here
Tranquillity alternates with adventure in north Limburg’s nature reserves. Some spots are perfect for quietly enjoying the scenery. Others will have you racing your mountain bike over challenging slopes. We asked forest ranger Andy Liebrand to tell us the best places to enjoy and explore north Limburg’s nature reserves.
The landscape of north Limburg is varied. There is the Maas and its floodplains, there are sandy areas, there are woods and rolling hills, and there are even swamps. North Limburg is also home to badgers, beavers, kingfishers, butterflies, and even a rare species of cricket. And then there are the dunes, in Maasduinen National Park at the top of north Limburg.
Enjoy the tranquillity of the Schuitwater Nature Reserve
No one is more familiar with these many facets of north Limburg than forest ranger Andy Liebrand. What’s his favourite place? ‘That’s a difficult question. It depends on what you want. If you want peace and quiet, then I’d say the Schuitwater Nature Reserve between the villages of Swolgen, Broekhuizervorst and Broekhuizen. The rustic bridge takes you through the swamp forest until you’re right above the water, in the middle of one of the old branches of the Maas. The bridge has a little bench and if you sit there quietly, you might see a beaver swim past.’
Schuitwater Nature Preserve (photo: Lotte Sprenger)
Mountain biking in Schadijkse Woods
And where can more adventurous types explore the scenery of north Limburg? ‘Schadijkse Woods, at Horst aan de Maas, is a fantastic place for adventure sports. It has one of the most highly regarded mountain bike routes in the Netherlands, 19 kilometres across very challenging terrain. Don’t be fooled by the initial flat stretch. The sand dunes are an especially tricky uphill!’
On Napoleon’s trail in Vlakbroek
For those who enjoy combining the tranquillity of nature with a bit of history, north Limburg has a number of hidden gems. Vlakbroek, near Koningslust, is one. ‘We know that Napoleon was in that area. He first tried to turn the swamp into farmland. Then, when he was trying to construct the Noordervaart Canal, he had to straighten a winding stream there. The canal was never completed. Later, there were several attempts to improve the land for farming, but they all failed. Nature triumphed over man,’ Andy says.
Horseback riding in Berger Wood
If you enjoy getting out on horseback, then Berger Wood, northeast of Afferden, is the perfect destination. ‘It’s a popular area for hacking out with your horse and for horse-drawn carriage rides. There are plans to extend and improve the network of riding trails in north Limburg and Berger Wood over the next few years.’
The bridge has a little bench and if you sit there quietly, you might see a beaver swim past.
Coffee in a woodland brasserie
From mountain biking to walking to quiet enjoyment, there’s something for everyone in north Limburg’s nature reserves. You can even stop for a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of vlaai, if you know where to go: the woodland brasserie In de Sluis, on Bosser Moor in Well. In short, north Limburg’s nature reserves are surprisingly versatile!