Photo-essay : A May and an Oktober walk over the Hautes Fagnes trail

No excess of words here, only simple pictures reflect the beauty of this 152km long trail, a trail that for long only existed in my imagination and has now become a secret among those who love the mysterious high bogs and countless idyllic peat rivers on the roof of Belgium. Enjoy the trail.

Part I: Jalhay – Brackvenn
17-20 May 2012

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Hiking through the meadows south of Jalhay.

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A first encounter with the Hogne river.

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Footbridge over Hogne river.

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Sawe river.

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The view to Solwaster from Rocher de Bilisse.

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Statte river.

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At the foot of Rocher de Bilisse.

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First bivouac.

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Entering the Hoëgne valley.

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River Hoëgne.

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The tiny Leopold II waterfall on the Hoëgne river.

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Further upstream along the Hoëgne.

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Polleur river leaving the upstream bogs.

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Bushwhacking over the ancient boardwalk path between Croix Dehottay and Croix de Rondchêne.

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Targnon river leaving Fagne de Moûpa.

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The path through Fagne de Moûpa.

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Deep in the canyonlike valley of the Trô Maret river.

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Fagne de Fraineu.

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Meeting the Polleur again on Fagne de Lonlou.

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Peat lint in the Fagne de la Polleur.

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Boardwalking through Fagne de la Polleur.

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Fagne de la Polleur on a misty morning.

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Crucifix at the edge of the Grande Fagne.

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A first glimpse of Noir Flohay over the Fagne Wallonne.

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Standing on Botrange, the highest point of Belgium.

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The young Bayehon river.

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The Bayehon waterfall.

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Upstream along Ghaster river.

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Spring flowers.

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Tussock growth in the Fagne Wallone.

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Easter flowers in Herzogenvenn along the Rur river.

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Following the Rur river towards Monschau.

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Meadow bivouac near Kaiser Karls Bettstatt.

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Beaver dam on the very young Getzbach river in the Brackvenn bogs.

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The boardwalk through Brackvenn.

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Springtime in Brackvenn.

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Countless white fluff.

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The crèche.

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A peat puddle in the Brackvenn moors.

Part II: Brackvenn – Jalhay
24-26 October 2012

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Brackvenn in autumn colors.

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Getzbach river.

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Allgemeines Venn.

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Fly agaric along the trail.

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Imgenbroicher Venn.

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The path through Imgenbroicher Venn.

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Weser river through the beech forest.

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Mouth of Steinbach in Vesdre river.

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Upstream along Steinbach river.

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Confluence of Eschbach and Steinbach.

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Dusk in the forest along Eschbach river.

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Kutenhart peat moor at sunrise.

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Dew morning.

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Golden colors of Kutenhart.

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Getzbach once more.

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Helle river in Hertogenwald.

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Upstream along Helle river.

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Helle river through Grand Bongard.

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Further upstream along the Helle river, reaching the traces of the 2011 wildfire.

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Helle at Pont Anne-Marie-Libert.

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Young Helle river through the traces of the 2011 wildfire in Fagne Wallonne.

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Destroyed boardwalk by the 2011 wildfire.

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Unusable boardwalk along the Helle river.

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Burned wood and rusty nails.

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Searching a passage through the peat moor towards Noir Flohay.

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Noir Flohay, a mysterious spot in the peat moors.

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Reaching the burnt trees of Noir Flohay.

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Though still standing, most trees seem dead after the 2011 wildfire.

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Burnt trunks of Noir Flohay.

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Following the vague trail through the peat moor towards Geitzbusch.

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The trail through Geitsbusch forest where half of the trees are dead after the wildfire of 2011.

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Fagnes des Deux-Séries in the fog.

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Along Fossé d’Eupen.

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Descending over the faint path along Gileppe river.

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Following Louba river towards terminus Jalhay.

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13 thoughts on “Photo-essay : A May and an Oktober walk over the Hautes Fagnes trail

  1. Eind september heb ik een trektocht in dezelfde regio gedaan. Je verslag roept mooie herinneringen op en geeft inspiratie voor een nieuwe trip 🙂
    Je moet in België soms zoeken, maar er is zeker nog mooie natuur te vinden.

    Terzijde: vind je het niet riskant om off-trail te gaan in de venen?

    groeten,
    Bart

  2. @ Berten: Glad you like it.

    @ Mark: I did the whole trail in five and a half day to be precise. The goal was to hike the entire trail in May but I choose to quit after three days because I started to struggle a bit with my knees and I did not want to worsen it. So now in October I completed the trail and did some parts for a second time.

    @ Debbie: That’s true, the peat moors are not natural but created by man centuries ago and now it has of course both an historic and cultural value and its own unique flora and fauna that there is now a need to protect it.

    @ Bart: Ik ga normaal niet off-trail door de Hoge Venen en zeker niet in de beschermde zones. Het knuppelpad tussen Pont Libert en Baraque Michel is vandaag trouwens al over de helft van de lengte hersteld. De andere helft heb ik nu wel willen aflopen om deze tocht die ik intussen al enkele jaren in mijn hoofd had zitten nota bene, toch helemaal eens af te kunnen lopen. Verder zijn er twee paadjes die een verbinding maken tussen dit knuppelpad en Noir Flohay. Geen van beide wist ik terug te vinden, verdwenen of overgroeid na de veenbrand van vorig jaar. Hier heb ik zo goed mogelijk het traject van het oude pad proberen te volgen. Het is vandaag trouwens wel mogelijk en toegelaten om Noir Flohay te bereiken via het Geitzbusch, zei het dat het paadje hier erg moeilijk is geworden doordat ook hier alle plankjes zijn weggebrand. De trail bevat ook nog een kort stukje off-trail langs de Polleur, één van mijn favoriete stukjes over de hele trail. Tot slot tussen Croix Dehottay en Coix de Rondchêne loopt ook nog een oud dichtgroeiend paadje, deels met stukjes vervallen knuppelpad. Op de wandelkaarten van vandaag zal je er niks meer van terugvinden maar wie van wat extra avontuur houdt kan het nog altijd gaan opzoeken.

  3. Hi Joery, That is a beautiful trip, the photos of the Helle River are outstanding. Brilliant how I can enjoy your hike from the other side of the world. What is that tent you have in this essay?
    Best wishes

  4. Ziet er heel geschikt uit als opwarmer voor komende zomer, ik zou de route dan ook graag eens doen. Maar wat is dat Hautes Fagnes Trail precies? Bestaat er ergens een kaart ofzo van deze route?

  5. Brilliant blog, very inspirational!

    The Hautes Fagnes is my favorite place to walk in Belgium. My early walking was in UK (e.g. Snowdonia and Lake District) so I appreciate the open terrain more than being in the forest.

    I have young kids, but now they are getting a bit older I am desperate to do some more adventurous walks again. The HF Trail looks great.

    Some questions:
    1) the HF Trail – what was the logic? To cover as much of the reserve as possible? To cover the best bits?
    2) any tips on wild camping in the HF? Technically you are not supposed to right?
    3) do you drive or use public transport? Normally I drive from Brussels and do a circular walk. I would probably do the HF in two or three stages, so would it be ok to get back to the start point?
    4) BTW have you done any of the Eifelsteig, if so any tips?

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