Today we’d decided to do a ‘train walk’, parking at Houyet train station to catch the 10.21am train to Gendron-Celles, a mere 5 minutes up the line that meant we could then follow the magnificent 8.5km trail back along the River Lesse. Despite the impressive views and Winter sunshine, we’d have the trail to ourselves all day, and by the end of it Rich had decided that it ranked as one of the best walks we’d done in years.
Parts of the path near Gendron-Celles were a bit churned up thanks to what looked like off-road bikes making the most of the large car parks near the river, but we’re not strangers to wading through mud, and it was worth it to discover evidence of beaver activity on the other side. The other advantage to walking here in Winter is that without their leaves on, you can see the views through the trees, providing ample opportunities to appreciate the Winter light glinting off the river.
In places, the path climbed above small crags, and Rich got particularly excited about the short via ferrata section. It certainly wasn’t an easy walk, what with the mud and slippy bits (a hazard for those whose balance is already compromised, like Rich, and for those of us who dislocate bits easily when we fall), but definitely worthwhile. Towards the end, we came across the now disused rail station for Château royal d’Ardenne, once the private station for the notorious Leopold II – the man who’d claimed ‘ownership’ of the Congo. From here it was just a short walk back to Houyet, where we partook of a plate of Belgian frites each in the diner next to the train station. You can’t beat proper Belgian chips.
Back at the gite, after a Belgian inspired rustic dinner of chicken and chorizo stew, we wrapped up warm and headed outside to enjoy hot chocolate whilst sitting on the verandah. Of course the kitty was waiting for us, and kept trying to drink from our mugs, so I then had to give her her own plate of warm milk. Despite being a farm cat, she’s obviously learned how to turn on the charm for guests, and I’m a sucker for a daft cat. We decided to call her Tinsel, it being Christmas time…