In the north of Limburg, on the border with Dutch Limburg, between Maaseik and the Dutch town of Weert lies a beautifully varied nature reserve. A region that is not so well known and also not so quickly on the wish list of favorite vacation destinations at home. And that is a shame and unjustified. Because this area, the GrensPark Kempen~Broek, deserves to be much more widely known. In Kempen~Broek, people, nature, culture & heritage go hand in hand.
Key on the gate
GrensPark Kempen~Broek is a somewhat quirky nature reserve full of surprises and variety. You will find dry and wet nature reserves, sand drifts and forests, meadows, pine forests, heathlands, marshes, streams, fens and many lovely villages and towns that invite you to explore. And, above all, you will find many windmills.
GrensPark Kempen~Broek is proud that the region still has 47 windmills and watermills. And that is exactly where MolenNetwerk KempenBroek and the ErfgoedApp come into play. Because the MolenNetwerk KempenBroek makes this special mill heritage accessible via various bicycle routes with the help of ErfgoedApp . One of these is the Watermolenroute.
"Use the ErfgoedApp as a key on the gate of the mill": with that slogan, the MolenNetwerk invites you to cycle the Watermolenroute. This more than 45 kilometer long bicycle tour takes you along the Bosbeek and the Itterbeek in the vicinity of Maaseik and Bree. Take a whole day for it, because there is a lot to discover along the way. You cycle through lovely villages such as Tongerlo, Opitter, Opoeteren, Neeroeteren or Wurfeld and get to know the beautiful nature of this region. Almost the entire route takes you along quiet country roads with a steep climb here and there. Along the way, the ErfgoedApp tells you about the landscape and about old farms or striking roadside chapels that invite you to take a break.
While cycling you pass by the real stars in the landscape: the twelve water mills. Be sure to squeeze the brakes on one of these mills when you see the water wheel turning. The miller is present and will be happy to tell you everything about 'his' mill and about the turning and grinding. But even when the mill is not running and the gate is locked, it is good to get off and listen and watch the stories in the ErfgoedApp . And that's a lot and very varied: from old videos and photos of the past to impressive animations about the workings of a fulling mill, grain mill, sawmill or oil storage mill. As icing on the cake, short films also allow you to take a real "look behind the gate" at many mills.
The Klaaskensmolen, a special mill
Although every mill is more than worth a visit, a special mention goes to the Klaaskensmolen in Neeroeteren. You have to look for it, but the mill is close to node 47 of the Knooppuntennetwerk.
The Klaaskensmolen is not just another water-powered mill. It is the only still active water-powered wood sawmill in Flanders. Miller Lucas Ceelen operates the impressive sawing mechanism with great skill and love. The sawing machine installed during World War I, with a horizontally placed saw blade, is therefore a real oldie that should be treated with respect. The mill volunteers enthusiastically explain how the impressive machine cuts through the thick tree trunks.
And be sure to ask the millers about the story of the OLS bölkes. The OLS is a large traditional archery festival in which about 130 archers from both Limburgs participate. We won't give away what bölkes are and what the Klaaskensmolen had to do with them. Because the millers of the Klaaskensmolen can tell you that story much better!