Friday 16 October 2015

Leuven University Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7.15 km (4.4 miles), terrain: flat

If you want to run in a nice green spot while in beautiful Leuven, Belgium, try this out-and-back route along the Dijle River through KU (Catholic University) Leuven's sprawling Arenberg campus.

The modern campus has lots of trees, lawns and sports fields surrounding the buildings, and the little river flows quietly through it all, so the whole route has a feeling of being out in the country.
Running along the Dijle River
There is also an old castle beside the river, and later the route continues through woods, south of the university, putting you into pure countryside.

And, due to the students, the route has a lively flair that you seldom find elsewhere, with runners everywhere, and the athletic fields all busy sports of all types. The university is the largest in the lowands, and has a few campuses, but the Arenberg campus is the biggest.

So, if you're ready to give this nice little run a try, let's head to the start along the south side of the Leuven "Ringweg" road, along the street called Tervuursevest, where an overpass takes the ring over the entrance to the university. The ring bus routes can take you there, getting out at the Heverlee Sportcentrum or Ijzerenmolenstraat stops, at each end of the bridge.
Start of the run: Follow the curve to the left after the round building
The Catholic University entrance is just to the west of the Carrefour supermarket: between it and busy Koning Boudewijnlaan. Head into the university, past the round, white building and follow the street as it turns left.

The street ends in front of Building A, where you continue running along the sidewalk between it and Building B.

At the next cross-street, turn left onto the soft wood-chip-paved running path and follow it, heading eastwards between the tennis courts. You are now entering an area of sports fields. Follow the soft path as it continues to the Dijle River, where it curves to the south and continues along the water (with the river to your left side).
Blurry picture of the soft trail
The trail continues southwestwards between the river and more sports fields and halls on the right side. There are lots of spots with woods and trees, so you don't feel like you're in a big campus at all.

Eventually, the path comes to a little footbridge across the Dijle on the left, just before getting to Arenberg Castle. Cross the bridge, and now follow the little street, continuing southwestwards on the other side.
Approaching the footbridge
You'll run past the castle building, sold to the university 100 years ago. A bit of historical trivia about the castle: more than 200 years ago the world's first manned gas-filled balloon flight took off from here, when a professor tested his invention.
Arenberg Castle: every university should have one!
Right after the castle, you'll run past the watermill.  
Running past the watermill
After that, you come to a cross-street, Celestijnenlaan. Here you need to re-cross the river and then continue following the path on the other side again, still heading southwestwards. You are now getting out into open fields, with the campus buildings visible a long way off to the west. 
Open fields before the woods.
When you run past a little, fenced-off nature reserve and its pond, the trail turns right and leads into the woods. At the first crossing, turn left to continue running southwest, now heading through woods and small clearings. This part of the run is pure nature.
Out in the woods: you can't beat it!
Continue for another kilometer or so, and turn around sometime before coming to the motorway ahead.

So now, just turn back and return to the start, following the same way that you came.

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