Jo Dox from VVV Meerhout dotted the walk especially for the Day of the Slow Road In search of the lost sheep from. “It is very important that we draw attention to the slow roads”, the initiator begins his story. “In Napoleon’s time they were mapped, but the slow roads were pushed aside for decades because many paths were closed. I have been mapping all slow roads in Meerhout for several years now. This is a long-term task, but an important task. All slow roads are given a name, which usually refers to a former resident, an important event or a specificity of the location.”
“Slow roads are not just unpaved roads, by the way. That’s a misconception. They are often church paths or neighborhood roads. Slow roads are paths for non-motorized traffic. Hikers in particular make use of it, but also mountain bikers, cyclists, horse riders, drivers, and so on. Different rules apply to all user groups, which is why it is important to make clear agreements.”
During the walk In search of the lost sheep participants can not only discover slow roads, but also experience a piece of Meerhout history. “VVV-Meerhout, Natuurpunt Het Grote Netewoud and the municipality of Meerhout joined forces for this walk,” continues Jo Dox. “The common thread throughout the walk is the Grote Nete. We travel along new slow roads, through forests, fields and bridges. The departure is planned at the beaver castle at the Grote Netewoud Visitor Center. Via the Totterpad we walk towards Balen-Hulsen and the Brigandstraat, where a historian tells the story of the Boer War. In 1798 a battle took place there, in which two hundred Meerhoutenaars were killed.”
The tour then stops at B&B Het Verloren Schaep on the Molsebaan. “The legend of the lost sheep, as the walk is also called, is explained here,” narrator Jos Beliën continues. “The legend goes back to the Middle Ages, when mainly small farmers lived here. An ox signified prosperity, but everyone had sheep. According to tradition, a lamb was lost from the herd. The lamb was found on the border of Geel and Meerhout and then a dispute arose about who actually owned the lamb.”
Jos Beliën will tell the walkers everything about the derrick at Far West, a former country & western café. “In 1937 and 1938, oil was drilled here. They worked day and night, seven out of seven for seven months, which was not allowed at the time. However, the priest’s permission was given to suspend the obligatory Sunday rest for the workers. In the end, drilling was carried out to a depth of 1008 meters, but oil was never found. Coal is, and perhaps that’s why many people still think that the Meerhout derrick was there for the extraction of coal. The diamond drilling head is still in the ground at a depth of 1008 meters, because the head broke off when the drilling rig was removed.”
A final stop on the walk is the Monnikenhoeve, where culture alderman Jan Melis is the narrator. In addition to the storytellers, the walkers will also be served music on Sunday. “We have three musical guests, who first take a seat along the course and after the walk they also play at the Grote Netewoud Visitor Center. Werner Alix plays a Kempen bagpipe and his music and lyrics are all about the lost sheep. Middle folk duo Krommenaas shed light on the pilgrimage. Their work refers to the book Via Monastica. This walking guide for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela also mentions some Meerhout places where pilgrims can stop or spend the night. Finally, the Three Emmekes, who play in a hut in the woods during the walk, bring poetry and music. Their lyrics are about slow roads, which is of course very appropriate.”
The stroll In search of the lost sheep departs on Sunday 17 October at 1 pm, 1.30 pm, 2 pm and 2.30 pm from the Grote Netewoud Visitor Center. Registration is required.
Arendonk: Walking tour through Arendonk (5km) – Sunday 17/10 13-17h – Departure: Wereldwinkel.
Geel: Country dunes walk in Geel-Bel – Sunday 17/10 14-16.30h – Departure: Kerk Geel-Bel.
Geel: Exploring Ten Aard (9km) – Sunday 17/10 13.30-17u – Departure: Kerk Ten Aard.
Herselt: Silent walk Premonstratensians in the Merode – Saturday 16/10 9.30-12am – Departure: Provincial Green Domain Hertberg.