New Years Day 2020

from Leuven to Scherpenheuvel


Just like last year, I again decided to try and start the year off well; like an instantly applied New Year’s resolution.

There is a Catholic site of pilgrimage nearby, and I decided to hike the odd 30 km passing some other landmarks. I won’t say whether or not it really affected my lifestyle in 2019, but at the end of the day I was tired and satisfied, save for the few days I spent afterwards as a semi-cripple because I was wearing regular old worn out shoes. So, for 2020 more of the same, and more or less the same basic trajectory. But with adapted boots.

This year, it was extraordinarily foggy.


I started from the Michotte park. This small park was previously a castle domain which since had its castle torn down and its domain gifted to the municipality. From there through Kessel-Lo onto the first landmark, the Vlierbeek Abbey.


Heuvelhof, site of the former town hall of Kessel-Lo, now a borough of Leuven.

Vlierbeek Abbey

Gate of the Vlierbeek abbey

The abbey already ceased to function as an abbey in the 19th century, having not recovered from its abolition under the French revolution in the 18th.

Vlierbeek abbey

Vlierbeek abbey

Vlierbeek abbey

With graveyard.





A nativity scene.



Leaving the abbey and walking towards Holsbeek.

Horse in the fog. This will be a theme..





A little bout of nostalgia.

A 17th century Mary chapel.

A more modern rendition of this ubiquitous Catholic characteristic

I told you horses in the fog would be a theme, didn’t I?

Castle of Horst

Next landmark is the Castle of Horst (Dutch: kasteel van Horst). This castle is also the model for the home base of the comic book character De Rode Ridder (The Red Knight). It’s also a popular destination for school excursions, and one of its taglines seems to be, uh… “a real castle”.

Behind the castle lies a park domain.

Kids don’t pay attention to castles and stories of knights unless there’s a plaque informing you what their hobbies were.


At this point I was basically halfway there, but my battery was running out, so from this point on I’ve only taken a few photos. You’re missing out on a few vinyards for example.


So uh, yeah. When I arrived in Scherpenheuvel my phone’s battery had completely died, but because it felt a bit dumb to not take any photo at all at the destination, I charged and revived the phone at a restaurant and took a shot of the basilica’s façade at night.

The basilica is the most important place of pilgrimage in Belgium, which did play a part in my decision when picking a destination for the New Year’s walk.

It was constructed on the order of the Archduke and Archduchess of Austria, Albrecht and Isabella, who ruled the Southern Netherlands (≈ modern day Belgium) in the name of the Habsburg dynasty and were quite important to its history.

There’s a lot to show inside, with its many interior chapels and rooms, but, well, yeah.