The hills of the Belgian Ardennes ↑ all posts

The hills of the Belgian Ardennes

A foggy morning obscured the transition from the Netherlands to Belgium. The hills began soon after crossing the border, but gently at first. After a week of Dutch cycling I had to remind myself that I had the option of changing to lower gears now and again.

Farmland gave way to forest as I entered the Belgian Ardennes, and I was soon following rivers through densely wooded valleys. I’d made the mistake of reading about the Liege-Bastogne-Liege cycling race while in Maastricht. The return leg of this 250km race takes in a series of increasingly brutal climbs as riders approach Liege. One of the most famous of these is the Côte de la Redoute, which I thought sounded like fun and good training for the Alps. I was less impressed with the idea when I reached the bottom of this 2km climb at Remouchamps.

It starts gently enough as you pass under the motorway, but as you turn the corner the hill really starts to kick in. I didn’t see anyone else cycling it, but the road was covered with spraypainted messages in support of local cycling hero Philippe Gilbert. A farmer leaning on a fence post gave me a nonchalant ‘Bonjour!’ as I struggled to the top, legs on fire and gasping for air. Well worth it though for the ride back down.

I camped deep in the Ardennes, in a wild meadow beside the Lienne river. Quiet, beautiful, free washing and water facilities, fantastic.