Date: Tuesday, December 28th, 2021
Distance: 32,8 km
The train stops in Amay a little before ten. Although the sun was still shining a little while ago, the first raindrops are now falling from the sky. Ideal hiking weather! From the train station the connecting route to the GR576 immediately leads us towards the Meuse river and the borough of Ombret. For a while the trail sends me along the N90 highway that runs between the Meuse river and the village. I pass by the old church of Ombret of which only a ruin remains. Through an alley I follow the GR signs. But soon I realise that I'm walking in southern direction and turn into the Rue d'Ombret to follow the GR signs in the right direction.
This part of the GR trail is situated in the Condroz region. The landscape is very typical. Rolling hills, intersected by shallow valleys and no big forests. The first real slope is the one through the Bois d'Hermalle just after the village of Hermalle-sur-Huy. At Saint-Sévérin I leave the forest. The rain pours down on the plain and strong gusts of wind blow me in a north-easterly direction. I have to be careful not to fall on the muddy paths between the fields. After 17 kilometres I arrive at the junction with the N63 motorway.
A few hundred metres further on is the Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial. On this military cemetery lie 5162 American soldiers and members of the Air Force, who died in combat during WWII. Among the dead are many soldiers who took part in the Battle of the Bulge. During my research in preparation of the Battle of the Bulge Trail (read more about it here) this cemetery is mentioned several times, as well as those of Henri-Chapelle and Luxembourg. One remarkable grave is that of Charles F. Carey, who posthumously received the highest American military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions against the enemy during combat in France in January 1945.
I wander around the cemetery and look at the many crosses and Stars of David. Of course, the place is well maintained, but that only conceals how much those soldiers had to suffer in the last hours and minutes before their death.
After visiting the cemetery, I cross the N63. Instead of walking along the motorway, I cross a potato field to get back to the roundabout via a calmer street. From here I quickly reach the village of Neupré. On the descent towards the local cemetery I get a view of what could be the Ardennes (but isn't) and the High Fens on the left. After the picturesque hamlet of La Salle, the second bigger ascent follows, taking me to the Forest of Esneux. It's a nice mixed forest. Just before Esneux the GR576 trail merges with the GR57 and finally joins the Ourthe river. Here the GRs turn left, I turn right towards the train station.
Note: at the time of writing the original trail along the Ourthe river in northern direction is still not passable because of the damage it suffered during the floods of July 2021. However, it is not on this route.
Do you also want to try this beautiful walk? Download the GPX of it here:
By public transport: Both Amay and Esneux have a train station with connections to Liège.