Notes for using this guide
This guide should be used with a map. While more detailed maps are available, I find the GeoCart 1:100,000 cycling maps (fietskaarten/cartes cyclotouriste) to be quite adequate for country riding. Beware however that the depiction of bike paths is incomplete and in some cases inaccurate. Cities and towns virtually always have detailed street maps posted in prominent locations.
The order of presentation is arbitrary, although around major points such as Gent the routes are usually described in clockwise order. The page divisions are likewise arbitrary, with pages being subdivided from time to time to keep any one page from being too large.
This is a hypertext document. I am trying to cross link all places where routes connect. The links are usually shown as blue or green text.
Distances are metric and unless otherwise noted from my bicycle odometer. (I have calibrated the odometer on straight highways.) The distances are often somewhat longer than the official length of the waterway because of required detours and crossings.
For trips in the Brussels region, bicycles can be taken on the Metro on weekends at no cost. You must obtain a velo/fiets pass at one of the main MIVB/STIB ticket offices (I use Rogier) - cost BEF 50, no photo required.
Bicycles can supposedly be taken on any train in Belgium, except Thalys, TGV and Eurostar, for an additional charge. Many of the older trains have luggage compartments with doors marked for bicycles. If you decide to take the train, make sure you purchase a ticket for the bike in advance. Tickets can be purchased on the train, but at a higher cost.
In the Flemish region, you can expect to get to the towpath at any place a road crosses or runs along the canal or river. For crossing canals, there are often also pedestrian paths on railway bridges and sometimes motorway bridges. This is not the case in Wallonia. Highway bridges there often have no access to the canals except by scrambling up/down a steep slope.
At most locks you can cross over, either by a bridge or over the top of the closed gates.
While I mention occasional sights of interest, this is not intended to be a guide to anything but the waterways. For some of the towns I have found web sites (most English language) with interesting information and pictures, and include links. Before setting out, check your guidebook(s) for things of interest along the way. And stop to look at things that seem interesting. There are many old churches and chateaux that are not mentioned in the guides.
Names are generally either in English or in the official language of the commune concerned. Canal names are often given in two versions, as they have changed through the centuries. In the Flemish region, bridges usually have name signs - the name ending in "brug" (bridge). Where there are such signs, I quote them as a navigation aid.
"Canal" is "canal" in French, and in Flemish "kanaal" or "vaart." Lock is "sluis" or "sas" in Flemish, and in French "écluse".
Terminology: "Bike path" is used to denote something physically separate from a road. "Bike lane" is used when you are on the road (stripes denoting lane) or beside it with no physical separation (pink path, cement, or cobblestone). "Service road" means a road, typically 3 m wide, along the canal. Service roads have no traffic except for occasional canal service vehicles and fishermen.
"Right bank" and "left bank" refer to the sides of a river as you face down stream, regardless of the direction you are traveling. I do not use these terms for canals.
"km" is used throughout for kilometer, and "m" for meter. "KM" or "KP" denotes a distance marker showing the number of kilometers to/from one end of a canal or road.
last update 8 October 2000
Copyright Dan Gamber, 1998 - 2004
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