Our first trip in the van to Belgium was most definitely a success and we will be heading back, even just as a beautiful stop off on the way to farther destinations. Belgium was actually our first experience of vanning outside of the UK and we didn’t know how locals elsewhere were going to react to it – there is no denying that campers divide opinion! But, all in all we had an awesome time, and there was no shortage of beautiful ‘out of the way’ spots to park up for the night and enjoy rural Belgium.
We spent most of our days exploring the towns and cities, driving away from the built up areas to camp, this worked perfectly for us and meant we enjoyed a real good mix of what the country had to offer without parking up in built up, residential areas. If there is one thing we do not want to be, is the people who are happy camping on someone’s doorstep!
Vanning in Belgium for us was all about canals, countryside and castle ruins.
In West Belgium we spent most of our time driving big straight roads running alongside a canal. I especially loved the roads which ran down the middle of two perfectly parallel canals. We found tiny tracks which lead us away from the main roads, along the waterways. We stumbled across gaps in trees the perfect size for our van. We felt out of the way and barely saw a soul, not to mention awesome peaceful mornings surrounded by avenues of trees and twinkling water!
Our journey took us through South Belgium, the central part of the southern belt offered up camping spots alongside more canals. These seemed less man-made, slightly more natural – wider bodies of water with more wildlife. We got to enjoy cuckoos in the evenings, herons fishing in the shallows and small flighty birds swooping and chirruping around us. We got to enjoy a long sunny evening spent relaxing and a morning watching the giant (absolutely bloody huge!) carpe flitting and splashing between the reeds.
We also got to enjoy some areas of mature oaks, their crooked limbs reaching almost to the ground. The long grass beneath shivered in the breeze and ox-eye daisies and a sprinkling of other small flowers offered a subtle splash of colour to the carpet of green. And, if beautiful trees and wildflowers weren’t enough a heard of friendly cows made our acquaintance in the morning!
Heading further west and into the Ardennes the scenery changed somewhat, those flat plains turned into rolling hills and diverse woodland. Here we found small parking areas at the end of tiny bumpy tracks. These are never my favourite spots but actually, due to their secluded nature when we were there, they were pretty good! Big stones to cook breakfast on and grassy areas to enjoy the evenings sat out in the fading sunshine, watching the transition from birds to bats, and the stars slowly brightening against an ever darkening sky.
We even got a spot with a castle ruin just a 5 minute walk away – being able to explore a piece of history whilst also enjoying beautiful river views during the golden hour is awesome.