The landscape of the Doode Beemde is quite different from anywhere else in Belgium.
The River Dijle meanders sluggishly between waterlogged fields where little grows except poplars and reeds.
After crossing a railway line, you can follow two marked trails (blue or red) through this ancient desolate landscape. A short detour off the blue route leads to a secluded bird hide on the edge of a small lake.
You may be wondering if there is anywhere for lunch. Look out for the large church with two Romanesque towers on a hill to the south of the nature reserve.
It stands in the village of Neerijse, where the village brewery De Kroon has been revived by a professor from Leuven University. It’s the perfect spot to stop for a Flemish stoverij (stew) and a De Kroon beer.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.