I got up early to watch the sunrise through the living room window, and of course Tinsel was already outside waiting patiently for her breakfast. She’s turning into a very spoiled kitty, but I just can’t resist the plaintive ‘stop me from starving!’ meows.

We’d planned to follow another guidebook walk from Javingue today, just south of Beauraing, but as this involved a lot of road walking we decided to go off piste and take full advantage of the network of farm tracks and footpaths. I worry about Rich walking on roads because his difficulty in balancing means that he can veer into the path of oncoming cars, and most drivers don’t anticipate the possibility that a walker might be deaf, so the experience becomes a tad stressful for both of us. You’d be surprised at the number of drivers who don’t slow down to pass walkers, or even leave a safe amount of space between the car and us.

Javingue seemed to be a particularly donkey friendly village, with several fields full of them, and as we cut through Bois de Beuraing we came across one that had managed to escape and decided to explore the forest track. After nibbling on my fleece, and following us for a while, it eventually got bored, or realised that we wouldn’t be providing snacks, and stayed put. A bit of a relief, as I wasn’t sure how we’d explain our acquisition of a stray donkey back at the gite. We later found out that the donkeys are used for donkey trekking during the summer, much like llamas and alpacas are back in the UK. Maybe the rogue donkey had just decided that it needed to go for a walk by itself, as it would have been a while since its last trek.

The rogue donkey

There’s obviously a problem with off-roaders damaging the tracks and woodland as we saw a few signs forbidding the use of motor vehicles. Fortuntely the network of footpaths is brilliant, and benches are even provided at viewpoints, as seems to be the case in France and Germany, and no doubt other parts of continental Europe which we haven’t yet walked in.

Once over the Viencimont to Javingue road, we walked through Grandes Virees before circling back to the village from the west. As has been the case since we arrived, we didn’t see another walker all day, despite amazing views and Winter sunshine. The Ardennes really are a hidden secret with regards to winter walking.

Back at the gite, the only way we could stop Tinsel staring daggers at us through the kitchen window was by giving her a small bowl of the meatballs that we’d fished out from our lunchtime soup. Fortunately, she doesn’t need to eat much to stop pestering us for at least a few hours, although she quickly reappeared at dinner time, and I felt obliged to save her some of the sausage from the stew. It’s probably  a good job we don’t have a cat back at home, as it would definitely rule the roost.

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