Holiday parks are usually the domain of families who mainly spend their time in the park. But a holiday park also functions as a base for activities in the area. Certainly in the present time. Center Parcs de Kempervennen is a good example of this.
The semi-detached bungalows, built from creamy white bricks, are classics. Today they are called cottages. Most parks from center Parcs they are not an unknown sight. Pine cones at the front door. Hundreds of these classics has the Kempervennen on the extensive grounds under the smoke of the lovely Valkenswaard. Fences and a waste container reveal that the cottages are being renovated. It looks classic from the outside. You could say old shit. General manager Kees Luijbregts explains: ‘It was time for innovation. But demolition is a shame if it can be done differently. ‘ Behind the front door it becomes fresh and contemporary again. New interior and furniture. The cottages look neat.
Only the otters are allowed to swim
The park from the eighties is getting a makeover. Aquamundo, the subtropical swimming pool, and the Marketdome with its shops and restaurants will be tackled after the summer. Precisely the places where guests used to spend a lot of time. And have been locked for a number of months. Ottie and Lottie try hard but can’t fill the gaping hole. Every day at least 20 people watch how these two playful otters eat their fish at half past one in the afternoon. Visitors’ gaze is now more focused on outdoor activities. Because more is possible there. Especially if you like to be active. Waterskiing and diving. Or climbing. And of course mountain biking, which has become very popular in the past year.
Fat tires through the forest
The doorman opens the barrier with a wink. Immediately take the first left into the forest and I’m on the mountain bike route Valkenswaard. In addition to the hundreds of regular bicycles in the Cycle Center, there are a dozen fat bikes. A little further on, the Focus mountain bikes painted in red are waiting. Don’t expect top quality. A short single track turns into a wide forest path up to the Eurocircuit. Then it is kilometers of asphalt to Valkenswaard. A flock of geese blocks the way to the monumental Venberg watermill and forces me to slalom. Only at the Leenderbos does the buzzing of wide tires on the asphalt stop. Woodcutters have been relentlessly busy here. Bare plains full of tree trunks create an almost otherworldly appearance. It is part of a larger plan to remedy the desiccation of the forest and to introduce new tree species. In the distance I see a white gate hidden between a row of trees. The green sign with the triangle points to the right. I go right and in a flash I see two flags painted on the road surface and I cycle straight into Belgium. Behind the gate with a statue of Our Lady lies the Achelse Kluis, an ancient abbey.
Schaft and Borkel are two cute villages that the route crosses. Borkel is the southern gateway to the Malpie. Apparently the least attractive part of the Malpie. Dull wide and also muddy forest paths are out of proportion to the beauty of this area. After crossing the N69, the route meanders for a few more kilometers through the forest along the Kempervennen. I take stock of the barrier for the barrier. Just over 35 kilometers and almost no vertical meters. Technically, the route has never been a moment and is therefore excellent for inexperienced riders. It is a partly unpaved recreation tour to explore the surroundings and nature south of Valkenswaard.
The four loops of Waalre
Secretly, the province of Noord-Brabant is a mountain bike paradise with no fewer than 53 fixed routes. Many routes are linked together with connecting loops. The route Waalre is linked to the Valkenswaard route with black signs. From the Kempervennen it is a ten-kilometer trip straight through Valkenswaard to the starting point in Waalre. This route actually consists of four loops that can also be ridden separately from each other. The joint distance is just over 40 kilometers. East of Waalre to the A67 in the north, the Old Railway Route winds its way through the woods and pieces of residential area. The track has long since disappeared and been replaced by a wide cycle path that connects Valkenswaard with Eindhoven. The junction with the Aalster Hut Route is located halfway through the 13-kilometer loop. The promise that this is the best loop of the four is not a lie. Nice single tracks and a few climbs occasionally provide a nice flow in a beautiful environment. The bicycle bridge over the A2 leads to the other two loops; the Groote Heideroute and the Heezervenroute. The junction is located near the famous Hut van Mie Pils café. The combination of the four loops guarantees a few hours of wonderful pedaling through the varied Brabant countryside.
An eight in eight kilometers
De Malpie nature reserve is part of the De Groote Heide nature border park. The provincial road separates the nature reserve from the Kempervennen. Fens in the middle of heaths and tall grasses give the area a special appearance. This also applies to the residents. Rare plants such as the carnivorous sundew and the bell gentian hide in the nature reserve. And special animals such as the viviparous lizard, a hawk or kingfisher. The area is crossed by a cycle path that is part of the cycle junction routes. Walking is actually a much better way to find the most beautiful spots in the nature reserve. Getting lost is impossible with the numbered hiking nodes. About eight kilometers is the Malpie walking route that winds through the area like a figure eight. Trail runners can also indulge themselves in the Malpie with climbs, wooden platforms, loose sand and wide forest paths.
Unwind in nature
Traditionally, the parks themselves are also very green. This has been partly thought about with a forest vision and a planting plan. Not about the special inhabitants of the wild. Center Parcs het Meerdal has its deer, the Kempervennen has ‘Big Momma’, an oversized catfish that lives in the diving pond. With a group of Canada geese, two storks and two otters and the usual population of the petting zoo, there are plenty of animals. Even before the rooster wakes up and announces this loudly, the fresh rolls are already at the front door. Today we sleep in after such an active weekend.