Nature walks in Belgium: Tervuren
Denzil Walton leads you through the forest of Tervuren, telling tales of saints, wild boar and upside down birds.
The Tervuren walk
Cross the road and walk up to the chapel along the footpath. The second building that survived the demolition of Tervuren Castle is the Saint Hubertus Chapel. Hubertus was born in the year 656, probably in Toulouse, the eldest son of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine. He was addicted to hunting.
In 682 he married Floribanne, daughter of Dagobert, Count of Leuven. Unfortunately, Floribanne died during childbirth, and Hubertus retreated into the forests of the Ardennes to devote himself to hunting.
According to the legend, one Good Friday Hubertus was chasing a magnificent stag when the animal turned and Hubertus saw a crucifix between its antlers. At the same time he heard a voice saying: “Hubertus, unless you turn to the Lord and lead a holy life you shall quickly go down into hell”. He immediately went to see Lambertus, Bishop of Maastricht, who encouraged Hubertus to renounce his honours and birthright, and distribute his personal wealth to the poor.
Hubertus then studied for the priesthood, was ordained, and later became Bishop of Liège. He died in 727 and was first buried in Liège before his remains were exhumed and moved to the Benedictine Abbey of present-day Saint-Hubert in Belgium. It is believed that his heart was buried in Tervuren.
Follow the Wildezwijnenweg, which is marked with blue-tipped wooden posts. This footpath is named after the wild boar, which is the ancestor of the farmyard pig. It was common through much of Belgium and can still be found in the Ardennes. Wild boar weigh up to 200kg and can become aggressive when defending their piglets. But don’t worry; they are not found here. What you can find here are woodland birds such as the great spotted woodpecker, jay, sparrowhawk and nuthatch.
If you see a small bird climbing down a tree trunk head-first, it will probably be a nuthatch, as nuthatches are the only birds that regularly do this. They are named from their habit of wedging nuts in crevices and hammering them open with their bill.
Nature Walks / Denzil Walton / Expatica
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