The River Yzer has a length of 78 km. and it originates in France. Near Roesbrugge it is a border river and it ends in the North Sea at Nieuwpoort. The river is canalized, and usually there is very little current. Except in Nieuwpoort there are no locks or weirs, so you can navigate without portages all the way upstream until the bridge of road D947 near Bambecque (Bambeke). The further upstream, the more beautiful the river is for kayaking. For this website I describe a round trip at Diksmuide, and a trip upstream till the end of the navigatable river.
During World War I the Germans passed through Belgium and they were stopped at the river when the Belgians opened the locks and flooded the valley west of the river. This frontline became part of the infamous trench war. For four years the armies were dug in and could not move. Millions of people lost their lifes. To-day the countryside lookes very peaceful and it is hard to imagine the horrors that took place here 100 years ago. In Diksmuide there is a big war-museum situated in the 80 meters high Yser-tower. It is really worthwhile to visit. A few km further downstream you can find the "Dodengang", rebuilt trenches on the banks of the river.
The area is very beautiful. There are many walking and cycling routes.
Although there is a kayak rental in Diksmuide, kayaking is not a large scale activity. The possebility to make a round trip is very unknown (so far :-). There are no facilities for portage, and you must be a bit handy to do it.
Kayak rentals:Buitenbeentje in the center of Diksmuide: Klaas Van Nevel - Heernisse 1 - 8600 Diksmuide.
- Round trip of 23 km.
- From Roesbrugge upstream to the end of the navigatable IJzer (road D947) and back (13 km).
Round trip of 23 km through Diksmuide.
Starting point at the Handzame Vaart between Esen and Vladslo:
From Diskmuide you head east on the N35 (direction Roeselare). At a roundabout you turn left. In Esen you turn left towards Vladslo. You cross a railroad line and just across the bridge you turn right on the unpaved road on the dike. A signs indicates motorized traffic is not allowed, but local traffic is permitted. After a short distance you see a track (4-wheel drive only) to the left. The canal bends to the left. In the corner there is a bank in the river where you can launch you kayak. It is a bit slippery and muddy. You return on the track from the Zijdelingse Vaart.
You start at the Handzame Vaart from the bank and go to the right. You pass under the bridge of the road Esen-Vladslo.
In Diksmuide you navigate on the canal through the town. You pass the kayak rental "Buitenbeentje". When you come at the Yser you can turn left for a view on the museum tower.
For this route you turn right in the direction of Nieuwpoort. After 1.4 km. you see the trenches from WW-1 on your left. There is a floating kayak pier, so you can go to see them.
From here it is 6.5 km to the portage place. You go under a liftbridge, then you pass the remains of a bridge. The river bends to the left, a little to the right and then left again.
The portage is right under 3 electricity lines. The reed is moved away here to allow access to a rat trap. It is muddy, but you can go to the side here.
You have to claimb across the steep dike. There is a bridge across the Zijdelingse Vaart and the gate is open and broken.
You go a little to the right and you can launch from the ditch on the left. Don't walk on the farmland, just keep on the grass.
You move the reed a little away so you can slip the kayak through into the water.
From the ditch you go under the bridge and turn left on the Zijdelingse Vaart. This canal is narrow and there may be some plants growing in the water. But it is possible to navigate and the bridges are high enough to go under. Just follow the canal and its many bends for 9 km. After the bridge of the road between Vladslo and Esen you're near the end of the navigatable part of the canal. At the end there is a culvert and you have to go out. You have to portage 300 meters on the track to the right to get back to the starting point. Because this road is so bumpy, a kayak cart can not be used.
Route of 23 km.
GPS starting point along the Handzame Vaart: Lat. 51.0366 Lon. 2.8546
Downloadable GPX-track: Diksmuide (unpack and open with Garmin Basecamp or other program).
Launch site at the Handzame Vaart.
Museum along the Yzer in Diksmuide.
AVV VVK stands for "Alles Voor Vlaanderen, Vlaanderen Voor Kristus", meaning "All for Flanders, Flanders for Christ"
View on Diksmuide from the museum tower.
Portage from the Yzer towards the Zijdelingse Vaart under the 3 electricity wires.
You launch at the ditch and go under the low bridge and turn left here on the Zijdelingse Vaart.
At the end of the navigatable part of the Zijdelingse Vaart
From Roesbrugge to the end of the navigatable Yzer (road D947) and back. 2 x 4.8 km = 9.6 km.
Starting point in the center of Roesbrugge:
Roesbrugge is situated along the road N308 north-west of Poperinge. There is a parking place at the bridge with a large floating kayak pier.
On Sundays the church going people park their cars here, so on this day you better come early.
On the other side of the bridge there is a small park with picnic tables and information about the area.
This is a popular starting place for walking trips.
From the starting point you go to the right upstream. After 1.5 km. the river is the border between Belgium and France. France is on your right. There is no sign or anything that indicates the border. Another 0.9 km further the border bends to the left and you enter France. The river becomes narrow and you must beware of overhanging branches and underwater obstacles. When you come at a bridge (it's the only one since Roesbrugge), you can turn underneath it. Just after the bridge the water is shallow and because of stones you can not go any further.
Fintele lies 10.2 km. downstream from Roesbrugge. This is where the canal Lo-Vaart connects to the Yzer. There are good floating kayak piers at the locks, but you have to portage on a bike-road an throuhg a small park (about 100 meters). You can not come near the piers with a car. Fintele is a favourit starting place for walking and cycling trips. So in sunny weekends and in the holiday time there is limited parking space. There are two restaurants: De Hooipiete and Lisdodde. At De Hooipiete there is limited possebility for overnight stay.
Launch site at Roesbrugge.
River Yzer: Belgium on the left, France on the right.
River Yzer in France.
River Yzer in France.
End of the navigatable part of the River Yzer at the bridge.
River Yzer in France.