Date: Wednesday, March 9th, 2022
Path: GR17 + GR126 + GRP125 + own route
Distance: 34,9 km
If you are looking for a sporty hike with a reasonable amount of altitude, a bit of adventure, beautiful views, forests, fields and a little bit of history, you will find what you are looking for here.
Starting point is the railway station of Anseremme, where I cross the little bridge over the Lesse at its confluence with the Meuse, and then climb the stairs behind the row of houses. I follow a meandering path along the edge of the forest uphill, and then descend for a while before ascending again to the rock formations of Plain des Fosses. There are a few viewpoints here that give you a narrow view of the Lesse valley. I follow a path around the meander and then suddenly go steeply uphill towards the Château d'Hordenne. You don't get to see the castle, but you do get to see the fence that surrounds it. Parallel to the fence the trail leads to yet another viewpoint. Gradually, I descend into the valley. At the hotel, I want to follow a path to avoid the road, but it ends up being a dead end so I have to retrace my steps and follow the road anyway. Fortunately, it is a quiet road. After the bend, there is a cave that can be visited. The trail continues to the Lesse river and the mill of Walzin. Here you can cross the river and a bit further you can enjoy the view of the beautiful castle of Walzin, built on a rock face.
From here I follow the GR126 through the Bois de Baileux (Bois du Bailleu). After about 1,5 km. you arrive at a junction. Here the GR leads straight to Falmignoul. At the picnic place I choose the road to the left, to Falmagne. The village is situated just next to Falmignoul and is very quiet, apart from some car traffic on the N989 highway. The small village centre of Falmignoul looks nice and anyone who wants to can buy something from the bakery or go to the restaurant a bit further on. At a war memorial, I turn into a small path that takes me to the highest point of the hike, in the middle of the fields.
Now it's downhill to the Meuse river. At the confluence of four little brooks I meet the GRP125, but I don't follow it. I go straight ahead and follow the Ruisseau de Ranle downstream. On the way to the Meuse river you pass several (small) waterfalls. The whole thing is better known as "Les Cascatelles". A beautiful piece of nature and certainly fun to explore with children. Before reaching the renovated Ermitage, I choose an inconspicuous path to the right that should lead me back to the GR trail. After a few dozen metres the path is no longer there and the many fallen trees and the steepness of the terrain make it a true challenge. After some scrambling I finally reach the GR trail. Some people may not like this stretch of GRP125, but I think it's one of the prettier paths you can hike on. It goes up and down in the heights above the river Meuse and some parts - although short - are quite steep and sometimes slippery. But all that climbing is finally rewarded by several viewpoints above the Meuse river. Very inviting too to eat my lunch there. A little later I'm standing at the ruins of Château Thierry. I have visited the castle several times in the past, but now there is a fence around it. However, creative people have cut holes in the fence.
I take a miniscule path to the left of the ruins that first passes through the remains of an outbuilding of the castle. After a few minutes, there is no more path. I reach a rock face and the way down is steep. With some caution and holding on to trees and roots, I get down safely. At the Meuse river I turn left in the direction of Waulsort. After one kilometre there is a small port where you can take a ferry. This way you don't have to walk all the way around to the dam and lock complex. The ferry generally works every day from 1 May to 30 September. But today, I have to walk all the way to the dam. After the crossing, I pass a small monument to the dead of both World Wars. Like many other places along the Meuse, Waulsort had to deal with the fury of German troops during WWI and civilians were killed. I cross the old railway line and then descend towards the Meuse. Just behind the last house there is an inconspicuous little path leading steeply uphill to the rock formations just west of the village. From there you get a nice panoramic view of the lock complex, but also of the whole Meuse valley in a north-easterly direction.
From now on, the chosen path becomes less spectacular. First I have to get out of Waulsort. I do so via an asphalt road in the direction of Lenne. Before reaching the hamlet I turn right and follow the edge of the forest in eastern direction. Just before I completely dive into the forest, there's a little viewpoint. Along a nice forest path it goes in a wide arc to Lenne. Again I turn off before the hamlet. This time in a northerly direction. A sign indicates "Sur les hauteurs". Now it's mostly through fields and a muddy forest until I reach the N97 motorway. The path now runs alongside the loud road. In the nature reserve of Moniat you get one last breathtaking view of the Meuse river. This is also a nice place to be if you're looking for a picnic spot.
The last four kilometres are mainly on tarmac. First I go under the bridge of the N97, then I cross the village of Neffe and reach the river Meuse. Some 800 metres further I pass under the railway bridge, along a couple of abandoned factory buildings. Behind it a staircase rises and you can follow a forest path along the wall of the old abbey, now a beer museum. A last beautiful view of the Meuse river and the Citadel of Dinant is offered here. Dinant's railway station is a few hundred metres away.
Alternative: If you can't or don't want to walk 35 kilometres, you can shorten the hike by following the GRP125 from Château Thierry to Anseremme. This way you pass the beautiful rock formations of Freyr. There you can opt for the sportive climb to the top, or just follow the GR variant along the Meuse riverbank for a total distance of 23 to 24 kilometres.
Do you also want to try this beautiful hike? Download the GPX of it here:
By public transport: Start and finish are accessible by train. For Anseremme you have to change in Namur. Dinant can be reached either by direct train from Brussels or by changing trains in Namur.