Reunion during a weekend away in Belgian Ardennes.
Belgian Beer Hiking Book
Some weeks ago we found the book “Bierwandelboek België” which means a book that collectes 40 hikes in Belgium around breweries. The concept is simple, you pick a hike and explore the area, and during or after you pass a brewery where you can taste a beer. We immediate were found of this concept and bought the book. Although you can also download the GPX files, we decided not to do so, but do the walks based on the description of the author. It makes it way more challenging, but it’s kind of fun and you feel great after each checkpoint you made. At least we feel some kind of relief each time we get confirmation we are on the right track.
Each hike has a difficulty level based on distance and altitude meters to conquer. Further you have a map, altitude profile, and a description about a beer. Also a couple of paragraphs/pages with a detailed road description.
During this weekend away we finished the first 2 hikes and we have at this moment the ambition to finsih them all 40 in the next couple of years. We’ll see how far we get but it’s an extra motivation to go out, hike, and explore our own beautiful country.
Houffalize hike (26km, 815 altitude meters)
This walk is described by the author as one of the most difficult but also one of the most beautiful of the entire book. We can only agree with that statement. The walk is quite technical in the beginning and with its altitude meters and distance it should not be underestimated.
The hike starts at the football stadium in Nandrin. You go almost immediate in the woods and climb to the famous rock “Le Hérou”. The view is magninficient in that area. You also have to decent the rock and although it’s quite steep, the path is manageable because a chain is there to hold yourself. At the bottom you reach the Ourthe which you follow for some time. Later on you head towards the direction of the dam of Nisramont. Here you have the chance to have a drink at the cafetaria of the dam. From there you have a rather longer climb to the top of the hill before decending again towards the river. You reach the place of the confluence of the Western Ourth (spring in Libramont) and Eastern Ourthe (spring in Ourthe). This is a beautiful and tranquil environment to enjoy.
Prepare yourself for a longer part of the hike and here you might start to suffer. It is only at kilometer 19 you reach the brewery and fur us it came as a relief. We were glad to take a fresh Chouffe and took some extra food. From here it’s another 5 km to the end of the hike and when looking back at it, we would have parked our car at the brewery and start the loop from here. Then you are done when you reach the brewery.
After more than 6 hours of hiking we reached back at our car. It is indeed a hike which should not be underestimated but for fit people it should not be a problem. The environment was magnificient and made us realise once again how beautiful our own country is.
Rochefort hike (22km, 635 altitude meters)
The hike starts in the center of Rochefort and accoridng to us there is a small mistake in the book. It states to leave to the right with the “Maison du tourisme” in your back, but that is wrong. You have to take left in the direction of the round about and the castle. (We have informed the author about this mistake). You start climbing up a hill where you will get a amazing view ono the city. From there we went wrong, but it was our own mistake, so when you would follow our gpx track, please take that into account. When we finally found the way, we headed to the cave of Eprave where you get a scenic view of the surroundings. Again through some woods to another clif with great panoramic views. The last part was getting harder again, as the hike of day before was still in our legs. We finished the hike by tasting a trio of Rochefort Trappists. A must do!
Tom's Belgian Dark Beer top 5
It is hard to build a rating of Belgian dark beers, but because during this hiking weekend we visited two cities hosting some very nice dark beers, I decided to give it a try. Below you can find my top 5:
- Gouden Carolus Classic
- Rochefort 10
- Sint Bernardus Abt 12
- Mc Chouffe
- Cuvée van de Keizer Blauw (Blue)
This great B&B with 5 rooms is located only a few km away from Houffalize in the small town Gouvy (Cherain). If you need to find a place in this area, don’t hesitate any longer and book a room here.
A very nice advantage of this B&B is that there is a bar and a restaurant. This is a very big advantage. We ate twice dinner and each time the food was very tasteful. The serving is sober but the price is very attractive. On Saturday there is always BBQ which is cooked by the owner. In the bar you can select some nice local beers.
The breakfast was really nice. There were fresh pistolets, bread, croissants and “pains au chocolat”. There was cheese, different kind of meats, jam and choco. I really enjoyed the pistolets as they were so fresh and tasteful. If I remember correctly you can book a room with and without breakfast, but don’t doubt a single second. You won’t regret. It’s the perfect starter for an active day in the Ardennes.
Our room had an extra long comfy boxspring bed and ensuite bathroom with toilet, lavabo and shower. There are only 2 smaller points which were not OK to me. Firstly there was no shampoo and showergel and secondly the rooms were a bit noisy, so light sleepers might want to bring their ear plugs. The second night we didn’t hear a thing and had a great night, but the first night there were a few people making quite some noise. But despite these two minor things, I would not doubt to select this place again.