More biking routes: “Hidden Gems in Bruges – Discover Bruges by bike 1“
Another great route is the road from Bruges to the picturesque little town of Damme, 5 kilometres outside of Bruges. The first part is the same as the route described in my previous post: the circular road around Bruges:
If you have rented a bike at Bauhaus or De Ketting, just continue to the canal and start following the route along the canal direction North. (if you turn your back to the city, turn left.)
If you start from “De Ketting”, you get to the canal at the Ghentpoort (one of the city gates) The Ghentpoort is a gate that can be visited on the inside. Take the walking-biking route to the left, and follow the route parallel to the water.
You first cross a little iron bridge, the Conzettbridge (that can be lifted if pleasure boats need to pass), and enjoy the little harbour on your left. The bridge is designed by the Swiss architect Jurg Conzett. It is a very picturesque place, and you can see many of the towers of Bruges from here. Continuing the road goes a little uphill and then back down till you get to the next two bridges at the Kruispoort (next city gate).
This is the gate where you will start if you have rented your bike at “The Bauhaus”.
Enjoy the bridges going up when boats need to pass( locals lose a lot of time waiting in front of these bridges!). Continue and here you pass two windmills, the second windmill can be visited. (Sint-Janshuismolen en Koeleweimolen, (3 euro or free with a Bruges city card) Climb the hills of the windmills and enjoy the view of the city from up here. In front of the first windmill you see an area where people still practice archery.
Continue the bike road parallel with the canal to the left and you will pass a third and fourth windmill on your left hand side. On your right you see some old barges that have been renovated into modern living places on the water.
Continuing your way you come to the next two bridges at the Dampoort ( where the old gates have disappeared). Here you can choose to take the biking route to Damme. There are two bridges close to one another. Coming from the windmills you should cross the main road at the second bridge. Just cross the main road and continue straight (into Noorweegse Kaai).
Just after the first bridge over the canal to Damme, you can take a bike road just next to the water (Damse Vaart), continue there, away from the road that makes a turn to the left. Here you can drive car free all the way to Damme. The road follows the water that is lined with large trees. On the canal you can also take a boat to Damme. (Lamme Goedzak) (the pier to get on the boat is just at the beginning of the bike route)
Just before you reach Damme you pass the windmill (Schellemolen) which can also be visited. After the windmill you cross the first bridge to your right and drive straight onto the main square of Damme. Damme is only a very small village containing of mainly one main road, bordered by bars and restaurants.
If you travel with children do not forget to visit the smallest candy shop in Belgium, here in Damme. The shop is located in the old civil guard house, turn left after crossing the bridge, it is just a few metres further. (only open in summer until October)
If you turn right you can buy bread or pastries for an impromptu picnic moment. Het “Dam’s Broodhuisje” also has a terrace to enjoy a coffee with your pastry.
In Damme you should not forget to look up, because every spring storks nest close to the centre of the town. This year (2016), a couple storks had four little ones! Their nest was just a few metres away from the entrance of the town. (ask the shopowner of the candy shop where the nest is)
If you want to stop for a drink or a meal, the “Damse Poort” (on the right hand side) is an excellent choice for both a drink, an ice-cream or a meal. They have a large garden terrace where it is nice to sit and enjoy the good weather. They also serve a typical beer from Damme: Damse Pater, a sweet beer.
After a refreshing moment continue further on the main road, and at the end of the village you can visit the church, the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, the oldest parts dates back to 1225, the church used to be a lot bigger but has been partly torn down, to save money in 1725. You can climb up in the tower and have a view of the surroundings and of the 7 pointed star shaped old walls of the town.
If you continue in the same direction away from the centre, and cross the small bridge, you can take a small forest road on your right (on the right side of a small creek).
You can drive your bike, just beware of other people walking the same route, and when you reach the small wooden bridge on your left, cross it and continue till you reach the asphalted road. You cross a small area of protected nature here. On the asphalted road take a turn right and continue on the small road winding between rural fields. Look at the trees on your right and see how they all have bended in the same direction by the wind.
Just after you passed the horse riding school on your left, and before the road takes a sharp turn to the left, cross the stone bridge on your right and continue on the bike road next to the water in the direction of Bruges (turn left coming from the bridge)
You will see you are now driving on the other side of the canal, and you will reach the main road around Bruges and the two bridges (Dampoort) at the end again. Cross the main road and return to the starting point by turning left in the direction of the windmills, following the bike road next to the canal.