The most fabulous flood plains along the river Scheldt
Sigma areas that should not be missed
Water has always played an essential role in shaping the landscape. Where water flows, the rest must make way. Today too, we are only too familiar with the power of water. Not only in the lapping of rivers and streams, but also in the impact of flooding.
Sigma: defence against water
In the Sigma plan, the natural basins along the Scheldt and its tributaries are being improved. New floods areas have been created. And nature has found new areas to conquer, far from human intervention.
The result: breathtaking natural areas which have dramatically reshaped the design of the Scheldt valley. The Sigma nature, as this nature is known, is a treat for nature lovers, cyclists and walkers at any time of year.
A sense of nature to fill the senses
The Sigma areas were also designed with all the senses in mind. Cycling and walking paths have been laid, and sensory paths provided. Walking routes and cycling routes will show you the way.
You'll find bird huts, woods with playgrounds and boardwalks all over the region. Here and there you'll even see some art growing. After all, landscape artists have let their creative spirit loose in several places. They have created artwork in the landscape, made with materials from the local environment.
Lose your heart and your way in the Sigma areas
Time to take a close look at the Sigma landscape. Join us on the banks of the Scheldt and be amazed by the abundance of natural beauty along a single river.
Kalkense Meersen, Paardebroek and Paardeweide in Laarne, Wichelen and Berlare
The Kalkense Meersen are the perfect habitat for dragonflies, frogs, fish and toads. The wetlands that have emerged here are the ideal breeding ground for the lapwing and black-tailed godwit. Furthermore: it is one of the last locations that suits these beautiful species. The grasslands hold on to the surplus water in the area, allowing it to trickle back into the river when the time is right.
Careful management of mowing means that the hay and grass meadows are regularly filled with colourful flowers, which blossom on the marshy soil. Once a year the area is under water – the rest of the time, the area is accessible.
The region is a paradise for cycling and walking! Using the walking network Kalkense Meersen-Donkmeer you can even map out your own route. Prefer the safe hands of the Waterlanden walking guide? Then you have a selection of 6 different routes. The Scheldevallei cycling guide takes you on a tour on two wheels through the landscape. The choice is yours!
Vlassenbroekse polder in Dendermonde
Vlassenbroek is a picturesque hamlet near Dendermonde. Each year, the hilly dykes attract plenty of cyclists and walkers. The new nature created by the Sigma plan is catching people's attention. The panorama points established here and there provide a unique insight into the lush world of fauna and flora.
The walking network In Het Land Van Stille Waters gives you the chance to map out your favourite walk for yourself. The Scheldevallei Cycling Guide contains some off-the-shelf cycling routes for you.
Tip: don't forget to stop in Vlassenbroek itself. As a vibrant artistic village it's certainly well worth a visit.
Lippenbroek, Wal-Zwijn and the Bunt in Hamme
The Lippenbroek is a lively area, serving an abundance of plants, birds and fish. This natural water purification system is not accessible to visitors, however, there is plenty to do in the area. Cycling (check the Palingroute!), walking, bird-spotting,... There is also an interesting educational path, divulging the secrets of the local nature. Highly recommended!
Extra tip: check the times of the tide in Hamme before your visit. When the tide rises, you see the water rushing through the lock. A wonderful sight.
Wal-Zwijn, a little further along, is also a controlled flood area connected to Lippenbroek. De Bunt welcomes walkers and cyclists, treating them to lookout points, plus a woodland playground to delight young visitors. If you are planning a walk, you can use the walking network map 'In het land van Stille Waters'. Don't miss it!
Oudbroek-Shelland polder in Bornem
Once or twice a year, the Oudbroek-Scheldelland polder in Bornem serves as a basin for surplus water from the Scheldt. The storm tide fills up the plains, protecting the residential areas further along from flooding.
The monotonous poplar woods from the past have meanwhile made way for marshland forest, filled with alders and willows. A delightful oasis for wetland nature. Still not peaceful enough for you? In Hingene, the village nearby, you will find a recognised quiet sanctuary. You can easily cycle there – as you'll see in the Bever Route in the Scheldevallei cycling guide! – or wander along the route you personally mapped out using the walking network 'In het land van Stille Waters'.
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