Upper Mark River: Meerle - Breda (NL) (20 km)

from André Maes

Upper Mark
source: Route66
Belgian (which on black) and Dutch (black on white) junction numbers
The Mark river rises in the open meadows of Koekhoven, between Turnhout and Merksplas. It flows northwesterly to the Hoogstraten area, then northerly to and through Breda before turning west to end at the Volkerak - one of the branches of the Maas estuary. South of the Mark Breda was never navigable with any regularity, but in recent years it has been provided with a bike path from Meer (a village north of Hoogstraten) to Breda (about 20 km).

At Breda the Mark is joined by the Aa. During the 19th century as a flood control measure the river was canalized through and near the city. In 1996 the river in Belgium was straightened and provided with low dams. At the same time a bicycle path was constructed along the river. In recent years fish ladders have been installed, to assist the return of migrating fish. North of the border, the emphasis is now on returning the river to something like its original condition, with curves and wetlands being recreated.

The Mark can be reached from Meer, a village north of Hoogstraten (E19 A1 exit 1 Meer). Several marked cycling routes follow the Mark path from Meer or nearby, including LF 9. Others include markers for the newish Antwerps Kempen network and the connecting Nederlands Baronie network. The junctions are, from south to north, 13 - 14 - 43 - 41 - 36.

The entire route from Meer to Breda is about 20 km. You cycle sometimes on the right bank, sometimes on the left, crossing as indicated by bridges or dams. The whole route is car-free. There are picnic benchs at various places.

SIGHTS ALONG THE WAY

1568 turbine water mill at Meerle

Sign near Galder describing restoration work in the Mark valley

In Meersel-Dreef is one of Belgium's Grottos of Lourdes. Further along in Kapeldreef is the 15the centery Saint Lucia chapel. Her speciality is eye problems.

restoration in progress 2005

fish ladder

river crossing

direction signs, picnic table

countryside

As you approach Breda the large forest to the left (west) is the Mastbos. It is one of the oldest forests in the Netherlands, dating from the 16th century. "Mast" is the Brabant word for pine; "bos" is woods.

Last update 12 October 2005

Copyright Dan Gamber, 1998 - 2006
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