Walk: Cascade Léopold II
Relais des Fagnes - Avenue Jongen - Sart garage - Abri Legras - Cascade Léopold II - Sentier Ghislain Lespire - Pont du Centenaire - Villa Sérénité - Relais des Fagnes
A very varied walk of 8,5 km, coloured by slopes and ramps, taking you over and along the River Hoëgne on minor roads, country lanes, forest paths and duckboards.
Possibly muddy and slippery.
Not suitable for prams or wheelchairs.
No catering available.
You leave on the Route de Hockai, at the exit of the Relais des Fagnes, to the left towards the main road. You will cross it to enter the street opposite.
You are now walking down Joseph Jongen Street. Joseph Jongen has his own little monument a little further to the right (at number 83A). He was a composer, born in Liege in 1873, who was admitted to the Liege Conservatory at the age of 7 and created his first work at the age of 13. This first composition was followed by many others (241, of which he destroyed many himself) for different instruments (cello, piano, harp but especially for organs). He was appointed director of the Royal Conservatory in Brussels and died in Sart-lez-Spa in 1953, 14 years after his retirement. His Symphonie Concertante of 1926 ranks, since its performance in 2008 (!) on the largest pipe organ in the world, (notably the organs in Philadelphia, known as the 'Wanamaker') among the most famous works for organ and orchestra. The choice in 2018 by a Belgian candidate in the Queen Elisabeth Competition for a song by J. Jongen earned her a place in the final.
Cross all the crossroads in a straight line and ignore all the side streets. You will come to a meadow where the road turns right. Keep following it until you reach the crossroads. Turn right here and you will find yourself in front of the main road you have just crossed. Go straight back across and enter Avenue Pascal Grosjean opposite the garage. The road turns into a wide forest path, which you follow as it curves to the left. Here a small path starts on the right - near a resting place - which you take down to a gravel path.
You go a little to the right and on the other side a path goes to the left, which will allow you to continue your descent towards the Hoëgne, as indicated on the sign.
Almost at the bottom you will have to face obstacles formed by rocks and tree roots making the last part of the descent hazardous. At the end you will find yourself in a picnic area called "abri Legras". L. Legras was a great promoter of the tourist attractions and the charms of the walks in and around the Hoëgne region. The bronze plaque commemorating him was unveiled by Queen Marie-Henriette in 1899.
Cross the picnic area and look for the staircase leading down. You will discover the bridge which will give you an excellent view of the "Cascade Léopold II".
The Hoëgne is a typical river of the Fagnes. It has its source on the plateau of the Mont Rigi at a height of 660 m and is called "Polleur"; after about 5 km it joins forces with the "Herbofaye" which flows down from the heights of the "Baraque Michel". They continue together under the name of the "Hoëgne". About 25 km further on it flows into the Vesdre.
Cross the bridge and start to climb on the other side along the small path. When you reach the top, do not take the asphalt path, but the forest path opposite the stairs and follow it for a long time.
Eventually you will notice a forest path on your right that slopes downwards. The sign that has been hung up says 'Sentier Ghislain Lespire'. This is the way back down to the Hoëgne. Ghislain Lespire (1933-2012) was the founder of the group of volunteers who meet regularly to help maintain the paths and bridges.
You will now follow the Hoëgne permanently upstream to the end of the path, which now forces you to wade and climb on muddy and slippery ground. You pass under the small gate and you will have reached the "Pont du Centenaire".
You will cross the bridge and start to climb the slope in front of it, which requires quite a bit of energy, but you will soon come to the bridge over the RAVel (abandoned railway bed, transformed into a cycle path, part of the Réseau Autonome des Voies Lentes/Autonomous Network of Slow Ways) where you continue straight on until you reach the holiday home, the "Villa Sérénité".
The footpath at the end of the road next to the Villa takes you directly to the Hockai Road. If the condition of the path does not allow a comfortable passage, you stay on the asphalt by taking a left. The result is the same, you also come across the Hockai Road. Once you have reached the Hockai road, turn right and after 2 km you will find yourself at the starting point: Le Relais des Fagnes.