Another thing I love about Ghent is that you only need to go 10 minutes outside the city (by car or bus) and you’re in the tranquil Flemish countryside. Sure, you can go a bit further and then you get into the slightly more rolling Flemish Ardennes, but if you want something quick and easy then I recommend the Ooidonkroute. I’ve walked this in about 1.5 hours, but that was at quite a pace. The route (easily marked with yellow and green signs like the one pictured) is either tarmacked country roads that barely have any cars on, or well-trodden walking paths.
I tend to park in the little (free) car park on Ooidonkdreef. But you can also take bus 14, get off near Bachte-Maria-Leerne village and start there. You can obviously do the circular route in either direction, but it makes sense to start at the fairytale-like Ooidonk Castle (now the name makes sense) which you can also pay to go inside during the summer. From there you walk alongside tall poplar trees, past farmhouses, cows, horses…until you come to the River Leie where you can even swim if it’s hot enough. The path follows the water for a while before heading up through cornfields and more farmland. You finish by walking through sleepy Bachte.
About halfway round, it never takes much to persuade me to take the 250m detour for a drink at ‘T Oud Sashuis – you can read more about this boatman’s rest stop in my other post.