In northern Limburg, right on the border with the Dutch province of Brabant, lies Hamont-Achel and its surroundings, a region rich in nature and heritage. And among these, mill heritage occupies a very special place.
MolenNetwerk KempenBroek vzw created a new mill cycling route around Hamont-Achel: the Heggemulderroute. Heggemulder Rein is your companion during this approximately 40 km long cycling tour. He takes you with your smartphone and the ErfgoedApp on a surprising tour through nature and along the mill heritage of Hamont, Sint-Huibrechts-Lille and Budel. Will you hop on your bike and come along?
The phenomenon of the hedge mulcher was well known in the Loonse and the Lage Kempen. It could also be encountered across the border, in eastern Brabant and in the Weerterland in Dutch Limburg. Some mills, such as the Sint-Jan in Stramproy, even had a permanent sleeping place for the heggemulder in the mill shed near the mill.
A hedgemulder was a miller or miller's servant without a "permanent" mill of his own. Thus, a variant of the hedge preacher; the preacher without his own congregation, who traveled from village to village. The hedge mulder moved from mill to mill, staying at a mill where there was temporarily a lot of work for a few days or weeks. Often this mill-wage worker received board and lodging and a small financial compensation in return. Especially in northern Limburg, a region with many grain mills, the heggemulders were welcome guests at the mills. Because of their expertise, their zest for work and the mill news they brought and exchanged.
In the Heggemulderroute, heggemulder Rein takes you on a beautiful tour along the wind and water mills of Hamont, Achel (the former Heerlijkheid Grevenbroek), Sint-Huibrechts-Lille and Budel in the Dutch municipality of Cranendonck. The old village centers of Budel, with its Market Square; Hamont, with its beautiful Teutenhuizen on the Stadsplein and Sint-Huibrechts-Lille are also on Rein's route and well worth a visit. Of each mill or striking place Rein knows how to tell you something interesting and informative along the way via ErfgoedApp . For Rein turns out to be a born storyteller and pleasant travelling companion, who likes to share his knowledge about the mills with you.
Highlights are plentiful along the way. But the mystical tower mill, De Tomp, is the one that makes the most waves. There have always been stories about this historic site in the middle of the vast Beverbeek woods. Even today, the place still raises numerous questions. Was De Tomp formerly a Motte tower, a fortification? Or has the tower always been a mill? Experts are still debating these questions today. Heggemulder Rein knew De Tomp only as a defense tower because in his time the mill had long been out of use. New insights indicate that De Tomp was originally a tower mill built in the 15th century by the Lords of Grevenbroek on a Schans, a fortified piece of land surrounded by water. Near De Tomp also turned the Waagmolen, a standerd or post mill. And 't Meulke, an industrious water mill on the bank of the Warmbeek.
In Sint-Huibrechts-Lille, the Lilse Meule, with a 26.70-meter flight, the largest flight in Belgium, defines the village silhouette. This sturdy bell mill did not always stand on this spot. Until 1908, the sails of Lilse Meule turned on the bank of the Bocholt-Herentals Canal. However, the mill had to make way there for a canal widening and was moved to the Schenkbroek: more than 1 kilometer away in the direction of Sint-Huibrechts-Lille.
Also at the Napoleon Mill, a former gallery mill and now scaffold mill in the middle of Hamont, Rein lets you dismount to visit the mill. This is where Rein used to be a regular guest to grind. For the construction of the mill, a company was founded in 1804 by some influential inhabitants of Hamont. Even today, grain is regularly ground and oil struck at this mill.
Are the mill sails turning or is the gate of the mill open? Then be sure to step inside. The millers will be happy to tell you about their mill and show you how the kollergang crushes the seeds or how the millstones grind the grain. And be sure to take the time to climb the attic and look out over Hamont from the gallery or scaffolding. Or have it explained to you how former millers and servants scratched or carved their names into the walls or wood of the mill.
The three corn mills in Budel, near Hamont but on the Dutch side of the border, are also on the route. Even in the year 2022, they are still turning and grinding here professionally.
This cross-border bicycle tour (plan a day for it) is mapped out on the cycle junction network. You can choose which node to start your tour at. You cross the varied landscape and green countryside between Budel (NL), Hamont, Achel and Sint-Huiberchts-Lille (Pelt) with the Haarterheide, Bevenbeek, Lozerheide and the Langbosch. The route also takes in the Bocholt-Herentals Canal and the Zuid-Willemsvaart, two waterways that cut through the landscape. The typical Kempen heathland will also regularly accompany you during this, also scenically attractive, tour.