Langemark-Poelkapelle has been profiling itself for many years as the village where you have to be for a walk or cycling. And you can be sure: The innumerable off-roads tracks provide surprising places to discover with breath-taking views. The offer is now limited to nine signposted walking routes. This offer will be further expanded in the future.
Bakelandt trail - 10.5 km - Start Vijverpark Langemark
At the end of the 18th century, Flanders groaned under the occupation of French troops. Religious persecutions were unleashed in which all ecclesiastical goods were confiscated and priests, who refused to swear the oath of allegiance to the French Republic, had to go into hiding. The occupiers seize the crops and cattle, and draw lots for young men to serve in the Napoleonic army. This is the proverbial drop and becomes the direct cause of the Boerenkrijg
It is in these times of political and social unquiet times, of poverty and oppression that the notorious gang leader Ludovicus Bakelandt makes our region unsafe with ruthless robberies and brutal murders. At least that is how the folk tales of Father Huys, Vandijck and Contich want us to believe. The same Bakelandt is also the main character in Hec Leemans' comic strips. On the basis of the judicial records, Professor Stefaan Top investigated for his doctoral dissertation who this Bakelandt really had been and came to the staggering conclusion that he was in fact nothing more than a follower, who only could be charged of one murder (which today could perhaps be catalogued as involuntary manslaughter). Nevertheless, he was beheaded together with 23 other so-called gang members on the Market Square of Bruges on the 2nd of November 1803. With this atrocity the French occupiers wanted to set a clear example to the rebellious 'indigenous' population.
Today the figure of Bakelandt is linked to the municipality of Langemark.
Red Zita trail - 11.7 km - Start Vijverpark Langemark
The women were also well represented in the Bakelandt Gang. In the Bakelandt comics, by Hec Leemans, Red Zita is a enigmatic figure and is presented as "the brave, smart friend of Bakelandt. But whether she is also his sweetheart... is not always clear ! Zita has a big heart: she loves everyone, and everyone loves her. Sometimes she is brave and intelligent, but she can also be quite vain or stubborn. " In the harsh male world of this cartoon series, she brings a slightly erotic touch.”
In the 18th century, several women were also involved in Bakelandt's gang, which sometimes cost them dearly. Of the 25 men and 8 women accused, 21 men and 3 women lost their heads, while the others received lighter sentences.
Probably Red Zita is a character based on two people. There was a certain Anne-Catherine Busschaert of whom it became known from the trial documents that she was engaged to Bakelandt. On "Roosebeke ommegang" she went to her uncle Pierre Cloet in Passchendaele to announce her marriage with Bakelandt.. Isabelle Vanmaele, also known as Black Belle, seems to have been more of a source of inspiration for Hec Leemans, although in the comic series a Black Belle appears sporadically next to Red Zita. She lived with several men and Bakelandt was also one of her lovers ... She paid her love with the highest price because she too was beheaded.
Bakelandt's first comic book was written in 1975 by Daniel Janssen and Hec Leemans. From 1980 Hec Leemans took care of the drawings as well as the story and lyrics. In addition to the main characters of Louis Bakelandt and Red Zita, Pier den Bult (the hunchbacked spy of the gang), Pé Bruneel (Bakelandt's friend and lieutenant and in love with Red Zita) and Raoul de Crevecoeur (Bakelandts sworn enemy) always provide a new surprising story.
Beeuwsaertmill trail - 7.5 km - Start Beeuwsaertmill Bikschote
Guynemer trail - 10.5 km - Start Guynemer square Poelkapelle
The 'unknown soldier' is connected to every war. Hundreds of thousands disappeared in the First World War as nameless victims of violence. But some of them live on in history. One of them is the legendary French pilot Georges Guynemer. That name has become a household name for the French and that is why the airbase in Salon de Provence, where the pilots are trained, was dedicated to their hero.
Georges Guynemer was born on December 24, 1894 in Paris. His father, a former officer, let his son first study in Compiègne, before continuing his studies at the polytechnic in Paris. His poor health forced him to interrupt his studies in 1914. When war broke out in August 1914, Guynemer had only one goal: to enlist. He enlisted in the army up to five times, but was rejected each time for medical reasons. Finally, on November 23, 1914, he was admitted to the flying school in Pau as a student mechanic. But it was the life as a pilot that attracted him.
On January 26, 1915 he became an apprentice pilot and in the following months he won one victory after another at the famous 3rd 'Escadrille des Cigognes'. Less than 23 years old, Guynemer was Captain and Officer of the 'Légion d'Honneur'. France speaks about Capitain Guynemer! He becomes the hero of the nation and of his allied soldiers in the trenches.
In mid-July 1917, the "escadrilles" moved to the northern French town of Saint-Pol sur Mer. On September 11, 1917, he took off for the last time aboard his Spad XIII (the "Vieux Charles"), accompanied by Lieutenant Bozon-Verduraz. Above Poelkapelle, the lieutenant lost sight of his comrade and Guynemer ... never returned.
Guynemer's death remains a mystery to this day. His plane and body were never found, despite the many searches and contemporary technology. Especially in the sixties many stories came out, but the dozens of contradictory explanations were then either uncontrollable or led to a much bigger mystery.
Captain Guynemer is happy to take you on a walk through Poelkapelle where not only the memory of the First World War is present, but where you can also enjoy the local landscape.
Seasonal Workers Trail - 7.5 km - Start Church Madonna -
This walking route explores the flat and rural surroundings of the parish of Madonna. Until 1936 there was neither a church nor a village here. The population here went to work as a seasonal worker In Frane. For months the seasonal workers were away from home and the region was deserted. Along quiet country roads and small paths you will follow in their footsteps. The town council opened this route on the 24th of May 1987. The entire route has been reconstruct and opened for the first time on the 17th of April 2005. In 2018 a new update was made of the route.
The trail of Saint -Anthony - 7.5 km - Start Hazebrug Sint-Juliaan
This 7.5 km long walking pad,, renewed in 2019, introduces you to the hidden splendour of Saint-Julian. This village is mainly known for its devotion to Saint Anthony. It was a place of pilgrimage for people with skin diseases. Already in 1770 there is talk of a "lepra house of St.-Juliaen", an institution that mainly cared for people with skin diseases. And in order to speed up the healing of these skin diseases, Saint-Anthony was invariably invoked: the saint of, among other things, skin diseases. St. Julian is also very well-known abroad, even if it is sooner for his war history. The footpath takes you along fields and picturesque landscapes. Imagine yourself for an hour and a half in the unprecedented peace and quiet of rural St. Julian.
Alpaca hike: a hike with just that little bit different. A real experience for children.
Hedd Wyn trail - 9.3 km - Start Hagebos Langemark
All of the above walking brochures are available free of charge at the Tourist Office.
Malinowski hiking trail : The escape of a living dead person - 4 euro
In 1943 a Polish pilot crashes in the fields of Madonna. It is the start of a special story that will cost the lives of 4 inhabitants of Madonna. The memorial stone at the church is a lasting memory and also the starting point of the hike.
Discover the gripping story of this sad page of municipal history. Price 4 euros (www.verhalenvooronderweg.be)
Sculpture Walk Langemarck on the run.
Langemarck on the run is 1.8 km long, to discover in the centre of Langemark. Along the way there are 16 illustrated information boards telling the story of the fleeing population on the eve of the First World War. This gripping story is supported by authentic texts and photographic material. The old photographs show an image of Langemark from a century ago. Many street corners and buildings are recognizably constructed and form a link between past and present.