The European Ramblers Association has bestowed the certificate of "Leading Quality Trail - Best of Europe" upon the Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir, the president of the NP Hoge Kempen board, this afternoon.
The trail only opened at Pentecost this year (on 5 June). At that moment, it replaced a 75-km walk. Now, six months later, it gets a European recognition. "I am very proud", Zuhal Demir told Radio 2. "This National Park is the pride of Limburg. We receive over a million people here every year. (...) This label is quite unique for Flanders and the Netherlands: our Dutch colleagues don't have one."
The landscapes need to change, and the trail should include some nice panoramas
In order to get a label, walking trails have to meet a whole list of criteria. These apply to the ramble as a whole, to day routes and also to shorter distances. "Each 4 km should have enough to offer ramblers. At least 80 percent of the trail should be unpaved and only 5 percent can pass through urbanised areas", explains Johan Vandebosch, the NP Coordinator.
Noise levels should remain low, landscapes need to change and they should include nice panoramas. "If you can meet these criteria, you can be proud. We have put a lot of effort in this", says Vandebosch.
The label is valid for three years. The trail has been divided into four parts:
- from Kattevennen in Genk to Pietersheim in Lanaken
- to Terhills in Eisden-Lanklaar
- to the Duinengordel in Oudsbergen
- to the Thorpark in Waterschei (Genk)