In the north of Limburg, on the border with Dutch Limburg, between Maaseik and the Dutch city of Weert, lies a beautifully varied nature reserve. A region that is not so well known and not so quick to appear on the wish list of favourite holiday destinations in your own country. And that is a shame and unjustified. Because this area, the Border Park Kempen~Broek, deserves to be known and appreciated much more widely. In Kempen~Broek people, nature, culture and heritage go hand in hand.
Key on the gate
GrensPark Kempen~Broek is a somewhat peculiar nature reserve full of surprises and variation. You will find dry and wet nature reserves, sand drifts and marshy forests, meadows, coniferous forests, heaths, marshes, streams, fens and many lovely villages and towns that invite to be discovered. And, above all, there are many windmills.
GrensPark Kempen~Broek is proud that the region still has 47 windmills and watermills. And that is precisely where MolenNetwerk KempenBroek and ErfgoedApp come in. The MolenNetwerk KempenBroek makes this extraordinary mill heritage accessible via various cycle routes with the aid of ErfgoedApp . One of these is the Water Mill Route.
"Use the ErfgoedApp as a key on the gate of the mill": with this slogan the MolenNetwerk invites you to cycle the Watermolenroute. This 45-kilometre bike ride takes you along the Bosbeek and Itterbeek in the surroundings of Maaseik and Bree. Make sure you plan a whole day for it, because there is plenty to discover along the way. You will 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 over quiet country roads with here and there a steep climb. Along the way, the ErfgoedApp tells you about the landscape and about old farms or striking little roadside chapels that invite you to take a break.
While cycling, you pass the real stars in the landscape: the twelve water mills. When you see one of them, be sure to put on your brakes as soon as you see the water wheel turning. The miller is present and will be pleased to tell you everything about 'his' mill and about turning and grinding. But even when the mill is not running and the gate is locked, it is good to stop and listen to the stories in ErfgoedApp . And there are many and varied stories: from old films and photos of the past to impressive animations about the working of a fulling mill, grain mill, sawmill or oil mill. As the icing on the cake, short films at many mills allow you to take a real look 'behind the gates' of the mill.
The Klaaskensmolen, a special mill
Although every mill is worth a visit, there is a special mention for the Klaaskensmolen in Neeroeteren. You have to search for it, but the mill is located near junction 47 of the Knooppuntennetwerk.
The Klaaskensmolen is not just any water-powered mill. It is the only active water-powered sawmill in Flanders. Miller Lucas Ceelen operates the impressive sawing mechanism with great skill and love. The sawing machine that was installed during the First World War, with a horizontally placed saw blade, is a real old thing that should be treated with respect. The mill volunteers enthusiastically explain how the impressive machine cuts through thick tree trunks.
And be sure to ask the millers about the story of the OLS bölkes. The OLS is a large traditional marksmen's festival in which about 130 marksmen from both Limbourgs participate. We will not reveal what bölkes are and what the Klaaskensmolen has to do with them. The millers of the Klaaskensmolen can tell you that story much better!