A hoop-necked duck swam by at eye stage, the water rippling beside me with out spilling over the excessive metallic sides of the Biking By way of Water bike path.
This 212-metre concrete path is 1.5 metres deep and slices a pond in two, permitting cyclists to pedal straight via it. From a distance, the place of the trail creates the phantasm of individuals magically gliding via water. I pedalled alongside, steering with one hand, the opposite dipping into the water. Then I almost fell over – a dyspraxic Moses.
Limburg, Flanders, Belgium map
Opened in 2016, Biking By way of Water runs via a pond within the De Wijers nature reserve at Bokrijk-Genk, a small park that’s house to an arboretum (one of many largest plant collections in Belgium), a botanical backyard and kids’s playground, plus an open-air museum with historic buildings from throughout Flanders, displaying conventional rural life within the area.
Half optical phantasm, half bike path, Biking By way of Water has proved to be a success with vacationers and locals, and is about to be adopted by comparable paths across the province of Limburg, together with Biking Underground (presently beneath design), Biking via the Heath (open early 2020) and Biking via Bushes, which opens this July.

Holding manoeuvre … ‘Biking By way of Water’ in Limburg
Biking By way of Bushes performs on Limburg’s mining heritage. Like a canary to gasoline, pinewood was utilized in mining tunnels – cracking beneath stress, it made for a pure alarm bell. Now, towering pines will encompass a 700-metre-long biking cover close to the city of Hechtel-Eksel, 20km from Bokrijk, coiling up from floor stage till guests are 10 metres excessive, biking between the pines.
The morning after my Moses second, a faint scent of cherry blossom crammed the air round 15th-century Colen Abbey, on the outskirts of Borgloon, a small metropolis of round 10,000 individuals. I’d cycled round 2km exterior town with my information, Lydia. Within the distance, grapevines lined the hill and to my proper I noticed a white horse grazing on dewy grass. Within the midst of this pastoral scene was a big wood art work referred to as #Untitled 158 by Scottish artist Aeneas Wilder.
A doughnut-shaped pavilion of wood slats on stilts, #Untitled 158 affords a distinct perspective on the encircling countryside. Mild filtered inside, the quiet of the Limburg countryside interrupted by the creaking sound of my toes on the wooden. Standing subsequent to the vertical slats, the surface world grew to become a pure slideshow as I seemed on the hamlet of Kerniel and the white horse. “It’s a spot that invitations you to meditate on life,” Lydia mentioned.

Untitled #158 by Aeneas Wilder. {Photograph}: Luc Daelemans
#Untitled 158 is a part of the “Pit” undertaking (pit means kernel in Dutch): a sequence of 9 outside artworks designed to make guests have a look at the panorama otherwise, an initiative began in 2011 by Z33, the Home for Modern Artwork in Hasselt, about 17km north of Borgloon. The undertaking, which covers 20km, was designed as a half-day bike tour,or a full day for these travelling on foot.
Wanting on the piece, it appeared like an unusual-but forward-thinking approach of attracting guests to components of the countryside that might in any other case be neglected. Lydia then informed me about Hugo Bollen, a mining engineer who noticed potential within the space when coal mining disappeared within the 1980s, and urged the federal government to repurpose the land for biking.
There are actually virtually 2,000km of numbered cycle paths all through the province, proving massively fashionable with native, Dutch and German guests. Every route is signposted, with cyclists capable of map out their route and swap simply between paths.

Memento by Wesley Meuris. {Photograph}: Luc Daelemans
We spent a couple of minutes within the cobblestone courtyard of Colen Abbey. Courting to 1438, it appeared extremely properly preserved; just a few flecks of peeling blue and white paint on the wood window frames the one proof of decline or decay. We made our approach again to Borgloon, previous a row of pear bushes and in direction of its graveyard, generally known as Central Burial, which is house to the sculpture Memento by Wesley Meuris.
I’d learn the piece was designed for “rumination and reflection” and made my approach contained in the white-steel construction, searching on the panorama via one in every of its openings. The white metal towered over me, although the 2 gaps within the round building allowed mild to bounce in and round its gleaming construction.
Again on the path, the scent of manure and fruit crammed the air because the afternoon warmed up, and walkers and cyclists emerged in higher numbers. My thighs acquired their first actual take a look at as we ascended a hill in direction of the village of Groot-Loon. Right here I discovered Doorkijkkerk (Studying between the strains) by architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh (who collaborate as Gijs Van Vaerenbergh). This “church” is created from 30 tons, and 100 layers, of weathered metal that both dissolves in opposition to the background of the close by village or turns into distinguished – relying on the place the viewer stands.

Doorkijkkerk by Gijs Van Vaerenbergh. {Photograph}: Man van Grinsven
The slatted construction, which seemed deceptively fragile from a distance, asks viewers to contemplate the position of church buildings within the trendy world: as artwork, place of worship, redundant area?
“Individuals talk about the items,” Lydia mentioned, as we walked again to our bikes. “Some locals like them, some don’t, however they discuss it. And in any case, that’s the level of artwork.”
We sat on palette packing containers in a pop-up bar, Bloesem wine bar, sipping Duvel and kriek beers, as Lydia emphasised the enhance the outside art work had given to the area. Bloesem has now closed … however one other, Loonse Loungebar 66, opens on 28 June at one other cycle junction.

Tranendreef by Dré Wapenaar. {Photograph}: Luc Daelemans
After we had dropped the bikes again in Borgloon, Lydia was eager to indicate me another piece. She parked exterior an innocuous-looking wood gate, simply exterior Borgloon the place, inside, rows of bushes have been festooned with 4 pear-shaped “tents”, Tranendreef, by Dutch artist Dré Wapenaar.
Hanging like fruit, the £60-a night time tents have been occupied, so I may solely think about spending the night time cocooned inside. Suitably uncommon lodging for an space the place the strains between artwork and nature are blurred.
• The journey was offered by Go to Limburg
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