A 12 km forest walk in the woods of Spa.
Both uphill and downhill, but modest and not too long.
The route is generally on hardened forest paths, but muddy stretches cannot be excluded from time to time.
Impossible for children's prams or wheelchairs.
After 2/3 of the walk, you can take a break at the lake of Warfaaz and at the end at the brasserie of the thermal baths of Spa (superb terrace!)
Drive towards the “Thermes de Spa” and park the car at the free parking of the hotel "Corsendonck-Sol Cress" (near the small roundabout).
Take the asphalt road in the direction of "Pré du Cerf" (green rectangles) for a short while and choose the wide forest path, downhill with the fence on your left, to enter the Staneu woods. Now you will follow the red rectangles for a while.
This way you will reach a small river, the "Chawion", which you will cross using the small footbridge. Now you are in the nature reserve "Domaine Ru de Chawion", where "ru" is used for the word "ruelle", small river. All the little rivers you will meet here are in fact all "little meanders" of the same Chawion. This nature reserve has been awarded by the government of the Walloon Region the predicate "Site of great biological interest" because the area is characterised by a very diversified and typical vegetation in its meadows, which originates from the fact that it has lost its attraction for agricultural activities and has therefore been left uncultivated.
At the next crossroads you turn left towards the "Etang du Chawion". You simply continue to follow the red rectangles until you reach this small lake. What is very special about this place is that it is one of the last places in Europe where you will still find crayfish. They used to be very abundant in the area but have now become an endangered species (don't picture a restaurant lobster because these crayfish are rarely longer than 16 cm).
Continue straight ahead following the red and green rectangles until you reach a crossroads with a resting place, where you turn right (green rectangles). At the fork in the road you continue straight ahead to face the climb (green rectangles), which will require a continuous effort for a good period of time.
Where the golf course begins, the green rectangles direct you to the right and send you - at the next junction - straight ahead.
In front of you you will see the main building of the "Royal Golf Club des Fagnes" with its car park which you have to cross. At the asphalt road (Avenue de l'Hippodrôme) you turn right (green circles) until you see a forest track on your left, where you turn into the "Route de Tiège". You walk first past the pastures and then past the golf course. Look out, you might find a golf ball…
The woodland path eventually leads to a small tarmac road where you turn right and continue along this road until you reach the large "Balmoral" road. You go left for a short while, cross the road and then enter a small path "towards Lac de Warfaaz". The descent is fast and you keep left at the first fork in the road. Then you follow the hairpin bend to the right and at the next junction you walk again to the left and then stay on this path; if in doubt you opt for the right; you continue downhill until you reach Lac de Warfaaz. This small lake is the result of the construction of a dam on the Wayai by the Commune of Spa, following a catastrophic flood in 1882. The total surface area covers 6.5 ha and the depth varies between 1 and 7 m. This pond functions as a favourite fishpond for the members of the Fishing Club "La Warfazienne". An information board next to the lake mentions all the types of fish that are present there.
As you walk around the lake, starting to the left, you will pass a fence, which romantic couples have appropriated as a symbol of their eternal love by placing padlocks on it. Continue your walk around the lake until you reach the "Jardin des Elfes" (located opposite the pedal boat rental chalet), where you can enjoy a well-deserved break.
From the "Jardin des Elfes" you continue the walk in the same direction and cross the dam. Stop for a moment on the other side of the river in front of the stele in honour of Amédée Hesse, erected by the fishermen's club "La Warfazienne" of which he was the founder. Hesse was a spy for France during the First World War and was shot in 1915.
Take the circular road around the lake (with the lake on your right) and look for a forest path on your left, which climbs steeply upwards, in the direction you came from (direction "Route de Balmoral"). Soon after, you will find yourself at a crossroads of forest paths and you will choose the one that goes up, marked by the GR route symbol (the red-white lines) and by blue-white-blue rectangles.
Your climb takes you back to the main road near a bus stop. Be very careful when crossing the road to the next stage of the route. Take the forest path upwards. Always follow the signs with the blue-white-blue rectangular symbols, which will guide you to the crossroads with the rest bench, to the path that goes up.
At the crossroads of the forest paths you go to the point where you have a panoramic view of the town of Spa below you. Afterwards you turn around with your back to the panorama. You will discover the GR symbols which lead you to a wide forest path on your left, and a little further on you will pass the small "Hesse-Rheinfels" pavilion, where the "Bobelins" (name given to the bourgeoisie who came to Spa for a cure) liked to relax during their obligatory little walks. The pavilion was built in 1854 to replace the original 1769 pavilion (in the form of a small Greek temple) which was a gift from the Prince of Hesse-Rheinfels, who loved coming to Spa for a cure.
After a short while you will come to a small asphalt road, which you just take, to reach the forest path going up the other side. At the fork in the road you follow the signpost to "Sol Cress" and you come across a small asphalt road again, which you take for a short while and turn right to reach the roundabout of the Thermes de Spa. If you like, you can of course go in and enjoy a pleasantly relaxing feeling on the terrace (the kitchen is a pleasant surprise!).
In the building you will find three taps, which allow you to taste the famous mineral water. The water comes from three sources:
Clementine: the source is in the vicinity of Theux . The water is rich in bicarbonate and calcium. It is heated to 32°C and used to supply the central baths.
Reine: this spring is located in the Bérinzenne Nature Reserve. This water is very low in mineral salts and is drunk to purify the body.
Marie-Henriette: this is the collective name for water with very similar characteristics (highly ferruginous and containing natural carbonic acid) but from three different springs in the immediate vicinity of Spa: Marie-Henriette, Wellington and Tonnelet. It is transported by a single pipe to the Thermes for use in thermal treatments.
The "Thermes" are located on the top of the mountain "Annette et Lubin". The name of the mountain refers to the main characters in a story by Jean-François Marmontel (late 18th century), a French writer who regularly came to Spa to benefit from the therapeutic facilities. In this story Anne and Lubin are a niece and nephew who fall in love and try to build a normal life together in the open countryside, but are thwarted by the fierce defence of human and divine laws. Spa-goers and locals thought - wrongly - that they could recognise a young couple from Nivezé in the story, which made Annette and Lubin part of the local folklore.
From the "Thermes"building you can take the funicular (which is not really a funicular, as the two carriages are not counterbalanced to each other) which takes you to the centre of Spa for €3 for a return ticket. (The view is really worth it!). This "funicular" was built in 2004 and the budget was mainly covered by the Balmoral Hotel. It is therefore not surprising that the second cabin is automatically reserved for visitors to this hotel.
You leave the Thermes building via the car park and return to the roundabout. Follow "Spaloumont" (green and blue rectangles) to the left to get back to your car.