The White Fox

Cat-and-mouse game in the Kempen

4 hour 25 minutes (53.0 km)

Starting point: from your location


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At the beginning of the 20th century, the residents of Reusel and surrounding areas lived in great poverty. There was a huge shortage of everything. In order to earn money for their families anyway, the residents of Reusel began ‘smuggling’. They would sneak across the Belgian border at night with all kinds of Dutch goods that could be sold at a much higher price in Belgium. And vice versa. Care to come along on the smuggler’s trail? The ‘White Fox’ cycle route is 53 km long, consisting of a northern loop (28 km) and a southern loop (25 km), in the area around Reusel.  

The story of ‘the White Fox'
A craftsman worked very hard in the Karel 1 Cigar Factory i…

At the beginning of the 20th century, the residents of Reusel and surrounding areas lived in great poverty. There was a huge shortage of everything. In order to earn money for their families anyway, the residents of Reusel began ‘smuggling’. They would sneak across the Belgian border at night with all kinds of Dutch goods that could be sold at a much higher price in Belgium. And vice versa. Care to come along on the smuggler’s trail? The ‘White Fox’ cycle route is 53 km long, consisting of a northern loop (28 km) and a southern loop (25 km), in the area around Reusel.  

The story of ‘the White Fox'
A craftsman worked very hard in the Karel 1 Cigar Factory in the Kempen border village of Reusel. But one day his boss told him: “Sorry man, business is bad. There’s a huge shortage of raw materials and I’m going to have to let you go.” Let go, the craftsman went home, completely distraught. “How am I supposed to provide for my family?” He saw only one option. “I will start smuggling.” He carefully hid a first box of cigars in his clothes. He walked nervously to the tram station, which was where food, cattle and equipment crossed the Belgian border. “If I can smuggle this box across the border, I’m sure I can smuggle larger items too!” His wife laughed: “You’re as sly as a fox.”

In no time, the craftsman became known as the ‘White Fox’. At the customs office, he greeted the watchful customs officers, which is what the border patrol was called at that time. “Good afternoon, gentlemen, wonderful weather today, isn’t it!” The White Fox chatted his way across the border. “That was easy! I’m going to do this on a larger scale.” He purchased tobacco from friends at the cigar factory, buying a little more each day until he had enough to smuggle across the border. He quickly hid the shipment of tobacco between the wheels under the stationary Flemish trams. Right next to the customs office. The tram entered Belgium, loaded with tobacco, and the White Fox followed it with a big smile on his face.

The smuggling went like clockwork – until one day a bag of tobacco fell off the tram. The head customs officer saw it and went to investigate. “What is that on the track between the wheels? Come on, men, search that tram!” And what did they find? A tram packed with tobacco! The White Fox fled into the nature reserve Het Beleven. He had to find a new border crossing and a new hiding place. But, no panic, the smuggler had already come up with a new scheme.

He tried again at Border Post 204 (4). Not with tobacco but with Kwatta: Belgian-Dutch chocolate. He hid the bars in loaves of bread that had been hollowed out. Each loaf contained 500 grams of Kwatta. The White Fox thought: “Jackpot!” He walked to the border with a cart filled with bread. A customs officer stopped him and scoffed: “I know this trick.” The customs officer took a knife and cut one of the loaves open. “Presto!” A bar of Kwatta fell to the ground.

The customs officer grinned. “That bar is for me then?” “That’s right,” answered the White Fox. “But only if you don’t tell anyone else.” So the White Fox smuggled Kwatta for an entire month without any problems: 99 bars for Belgium and one bar for the customs officer. Until the corrupt customs officer was caught with his mouth full of chocolate and was dismissed. The White Fox got off with merely a warning. He stopped his Kwatta mission, setting his sights on butter. Because butter was the perfect product to smuggle! The prices for butter were considerably higher in Belgium than in the Netherlands. The butter from the Reusel butter factory in particular, famous for its velvety taste, was very much in demand and generated a lot of money.

The White Fox bought cheap packages of butter from the butter factory. He hid them in one of his many shelters in the woods. He put on a thick coat, hid the butter under it and walked across the border. This worked fine for a couple of times, until a customs officer wondered: “Why such a thick coat when it’s so warm out?” He grabbed the White Fox by his collar and placed him next to the stove. The butter melted, but the White Fox did not confess. “That butter is for friends. No problem!”

The White Fox decided to smuggle one more large shipment. If he could get a truck full of Reusel butter across the border, he would earn so much he could stop smuggling! He came up with a brilliant scheme. In the middle of the night, he broke into the butter factory. He stole a huge stack of paper wrappers meant for the packages of Reusel butter and took them across the border. 

The White Fox had hidden a truck full of old bricks deep in the Belgian woods. He wrapped each brick one by one with the wrapper of the stolen butter. He then drove without a hitch to his Flemish customers. Without any hesitation, they purchased boxes filled with bricks wrapped in butter wrappers. By the time they discovered the deception, the smuggler had long gone. His ultimate scheme had been carried out. He sold thousands of kilos of old bricks as expensive, velvety soft Reusel butter. No one has heard from the White Fox since, and he was never caught. 

More information
For more information, visit visitreuseldemierden.nl. You will find a list of locations for wining and dining, overnight stays and tips for a fantastic day out in Reusel and the surrounding area.

How does this cycle route work?
This cycle route is plotted out on the cycling junction system in Brabant. Follow the route from one numbered junction to the next. Between the junctions, follow the signposting of the cycle junction system. The route can be followed in either direction.

  • Signposting

    Simply follow the signs and cycle along the route from one numbered junction to the next.

    Simply follow the signs and cycle along the route from one numbered junction to the next.

Sights on this route

Starting point:

Burgemeester Willekenslaan 2
5541NA Reusel
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14
B

Nature Gate Observation

Nature Gate Observation Tower at the Fire Tower (Brandtoren)
79
C
D
E
60
F

Nature reserve

The Beleven nature reserve
G
56
77
H
Postel Abbey
96
94
76
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91
I
14
J
15
92
17
77
22
18
16
02
15
14

End point:

Burgemeester Willekenslaan 2
5541NA Reusel
Navigate to endpoint

Story of the route

Starting point:

Burgemeester Willekenslaan 2
5541NA Reusel
Navigate to starting point
  • Nature Gate Observation Tower at the Fire Tower (Brandtoren)
    This Brabant nature gate marks the starting point of the nature reserve the Peel Heathland. The New Fire Tower is 25 metres high, consisting of stacked six cubes. It offers entertainment in the area of sports and recreation. It includes a climbing wall, a zipline and a high rope, and a look-out platform at the top. When at the top, you have a view of the entire area above the trees.
  • Dutch-Belgian border crossing
  • Cigar factory
    At one time, the former industrial building only produced one product (cigars), but now it has many facets. It houses a fitness centre and a garage. However, the biggest eye-catcher is the eight artists who have their workshops/studios here.
  • Tram depot
    The wooden tram depot in Reusel used to be located next to a small former border station that also served as a customs office. The tram line that ran through Reusel was the connection between Eindhoven, Arendonk and Turnhout. Because tram traffic was not allowed by law to cross the border, travellers had to transfer in Reusel. Constructed mainly of wood, part of the depot is made of brick. This was to ensure that it could withstand the heat of the steam locomotive and to prevent fire.
  • Border Cafe at the Smugglers’ Museum
    Welcome to the lost world: the world of life at the border ... The Border Cafe at the Smugglers’ Museum gives you an idea of what life was like at the border in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its small collection helps you to form an image of the ‘the border’ meant.
  • The Beleven nature reserve
    The Dutch word ‘beleven’ means ‘experience’, and there’s plenty to experience, especially if you are a birdwatcher. It is a true paradise for many birds, including the spoonbill, which is spotted regularly. A wooden deck in the shape of a mammoth gives you an amazing view of the Beleven. Sandy trails with wide shoulders and windbreaks run through the nature reserve. An example of this is 'Suske’s Clog Path’ (7.5 km), where you follow the small wooden clogs. The route can be purchased on paper at the Hollandershoeve and Visit Reusel-De Mierden.
  • Border post
    The border is marked by border posts or boundary markers. By taking just one step, you can be in two different countries: the Netherlands and Belgium. This is possible in Reusel-De Mierden.
  • Observation tower
    A 26-metre-tall observation and climbing tower is open to all who want to enjoy the beautiful view and its many outdoor opportunities. A beautiful design in green surroundings with many cycle and walk routes.
  • The Spartelvijver or Wading Pond bicycle café
    The ideal location for families with young children who want to combine a day at the sandy and grassy beach with a walk or bicycle ride in the green surroundings.
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  • Postel Abbey
    The Postel Abbey is located just over the border in Belgium. The beautiful, ancient abbey has guest quarters, an abbey shop and an information centre.

End point:

Burgemeester Willekenslaan 2
5541NA Reusel
Navigate to endpoint
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  • 79
  • 60
  • 56
  • 77
  • 96
  • 94
  • 76
  • 97
  • 78
  • 91
  • 14
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  • 92
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  • 77
  • 22
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  • 02
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  • 14
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