Relais des Fagnes- Sart garage-Belleheid-Hoëgne-Pont du Centenaire-Villa Sérénité-Relais des Fagnes
A demanding and adventurous 10 km walk.
The walk leads you - without any hazardous flights of fancy - directly to the "Belleheid Bridge", but the return journey along the Hoëgne is a series of passages over small bridges, over sections on raised logs and around rocks.
Wading and climbing can't scare you. The route is always muddy and slippery. Caution is required.
The route is not suitable for prams and is not recommended for the less athletic. It is not the preferred choice for the uninformed walker.
Catering is available from Thursday to Sunday, after a third of the walk at the "Chalet de Belleheid".
At the exit of the Relais des Fagnes, you turn left onto the main road on the "Route de Hockai". 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 Liège in 1873, who was admitted to the Liège Conservatory at the age of 7 and created his first work at 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 '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. Cross the street and enter Avenue Pascal Grosjean next to the garage.
The road turns into a wide forest path and will lead you to the site of the Vallée de la Hoëgne as indicated by the wooden sign.
Follow the bend to the left and continue a little further along also keeping to your left. Continue along the walk and watch out for cars in the distance on the main road you have crossed. This is the time to look for rectangles with a blue cross on your right. They guide you to a forest path, which leads downhill. The blue crosses will accompany you on this descent through the woods, towards the river.
Where the forest path leads to a slightly wider path, you turn right to continue the descent. You will come across a hardened path, which you will cross and then a tarmac path which you will also cross.
A little further down you come across the same asphalt road where the blue crosses point you to the left in the direction of a restaurant which is one of the most pleasant in the region: "Chalet du Pont de Belleheid". This is a good place to relax, especially in summer, on the beautiful terrace with a view of the Hoëgne.
The Hoëgne is a typical river of the Fagnes. It rises 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" and continues together under the name of the "Hoëgne". About 25 km further on it flows into the Vesder. Its waters are highly ferruginous, hence the red colour.
After the break, you cross the "Belleheid Bridge" to the car park. Turn right and at the end of the car park you pass under the small gate to start the second and more demanding part of the "Hoëgne Walk", as the sign indicates. The orientation is easy: you follow the river upstream and let yourself be guided by the small wooden signposts, both "Hockai" and "Pont du Centenaire". In case of doubt, you choose the option closest to the river.
The walk takes place once on one side of the river and once on the opposite side, resulting in crossings from one bank to the other over narrow wooden bridges. On your way you will discover rocks, tree roots, muddy sections and areas where you will fortunately benefit from the presence of raised logs.
After a while you will reach the "Marie-Henriette" waterfall and 5 minutes later you will be at the level of the "Leopold II" waterfall. Go down the steps and have a look at the bronze plaque in commemoration of L. Legras, a great promoter of the tourist attractions and the charms of the walks in the Hoëgne region and its surroundings. It was inaugurated by Queen Marie-Henriette in 1899. At the bottom, a small wooden bridge offers you a beautiful view of the waterfall.
You retrace your steps and climb up to the picnic area, which you will cross. You turn left (with the picnic spot in the back) onto the wide forest path and look for the start of the next part of the route on the left, indicated by a wooden sign with the words "Vallée de la Hoëgne, sauvage et pittoresque".
The forest path leads you down to the level of the river. The walk continues by alternating between the two banks of the Hoëgne. Keep an eye out for the signs "Hockai" and/or "Pont du Centenaire". Among other things, you will cross the "Pont du Palmier”, so called because the round rock below the waterfall resembles the peeling bark of a palm tree. However, you will not cross the "Pont des Bénévoles" because the direction "Sart Station" is not yours.
After another three quarters of an hour you will reach the "Pont du Centenaire". You will cross the bridge and start to climb the slope in front of it, which requires a lot of energy but you will soon reach the bridge over the RAVel. This is the route of the old railway line 44 between Pépinster and Stavelot. There have been no trains on this line since 1973 and nowadays there are no rails to be seen, as almost the entire route has been converted into a cycle path, as part of the popular RAVeL (Réseau Autonome des Voies Lentes) network.
Continue straight on to the holiday home, the "Villa Sérénité". The pathway in the extension of your 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.