This route takes you around the Achelse Kluis and leads you through the vast nature of the border region through special areas such as De Malpie. Along the way you can enjoy delicious Trappist beer.
After a nice piece of cycling through the woods, it is soon time for a snack and a drink. In the inn of St. Benedict's Abbey, better known as the Achelse Kluis, tempting things are on the menu. Achelse Trappist of course, but also Trappist ice cream with real butter. From the inn you can look through a large window at the spacious stainless steel tanks in the brewery. We work with the recipes of Broeder Thomas, who earned his spurs in the Trappist monasteries Westmalle, Westvleteren and Orval. Sounding names for beer lovers - Westvleteren may be less known to most people, but a few years ago it was voted the best beer in the world. Broeder Thomas knew exactly what it had to be for the Achelse Kluis: a light and thirst-quenching beer that still tastes characteristic enough. A pure beer, in keeping with the simple character of the abbey, without artificial flavors or sugar. The land on which the abbey stands has been a religious site for centuries. In 1656 a border chapel was built near here. It was the aftermath of the religious wars. Catholics from the Protestant Netherlands were allowed to hold their worship services here, just across the border. In the 17th century, Petrus van Eijnatten from Eindhoven founded a community of hermits: the Achelse Kluis. In 1846, the Trappist monks of Westmalle founded St. Benedict's Abbey on this site. The small community of monks that remains today is now dependent for its income on the sale of the Achels Trappist beer. The abbey cannot be visited and the church is only accessible to attend the celebrations. The beautiful reception chapel next to the entrance of the guest house in the forecourt is accessible. Take a look before you leave. The Achelse Kluis is located on the border between the Netherlands and Belgium, the border line runs right across the driveway. The abbey is in a remote corner, as befits hermits. You will find extensive nature reserves all around. We only have to cross the road and we drive straight into the Leenderbos, a large forest and heathland area that extends all the way from the abbey to the road between Leende and Valkenswaard, 7 kilometers away. Until the 1970s, the Achelse Kluis was a large agricultural company that employed about 100 monks, who provided a good income. When that turned out to be increasingly unprofitable, the brewery was founded to create new sources of income. Most agricultural lands were sold at the end of the twentieth century to the Flemish Region and Staatsbosbeheer, depending on the country where the land was located. The old agricultural lands were largely returned to nature. For example, the canalized river Tongelreep has been filled in to make way for a naturally meandering stream. But in the Leenderbos you can still find a number of old 'kampkes': the former fields on the heath, surrounded by walls of oak that were supposed to protect the crops against cattle and shifting sand. The Malpie nature reserve is very different from the Leenderbos, much more humid and sloping. The sand ridges date from the Ice Age. The wind then blew the sand away in some places, only to blow it into a heap further on. In this way a whole series of small mounds was created, with beautiful fens in the bowls. Meandering over the cycle paths you always have a different view of it. You drive back to the starting point along Neerpelt.