A three hour drive brings us to the small town of Esneux, situated on the slopes of the Ourthe river in the Belgium Ardennes. We pitch our tent on a packed campsite, but this time bringing the car gives us an advantage and we have a huge site just for the two of us and our tiny Hilleberg tent.
It’s hot. Europe is ‘suffering’ from a heat wave and temperature rises far above 30 degrees Celsius in the shadow. The last couple of weeks it hasn’t rained either and it shows… trees are already loosing their yellow colored leaves and the water level of the Ourthe river is so low, kayaking seems to be forbidden. Evenings are great though, warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the light breeze, cold enough to be able to get some sleep. During the day it’s hard work… as we find out the next day…
At home I created a couple of round trip tracks following unpaved roads, narrow paved roads ánd mountainbike routes. The latter haven’t been used a lot lately; thick thorny bushes and nettles. But, before we get to that part, we first have to climb away from the Ourthe river. In Belgium you know, it’s up and down, up and down and up and down… In the bicycle shop we work in I always say ‘if you can handle the Ardennes, than you can cross the world and conquer the highest passes!’ 😉
On one of the mountainbike stretches we run into a very rocky track, covered with fallen trees.. we are unable to ride here and as I try to stop I fall off my bike and hit a couple of rocks with my left knee… Ah well, I’m a tough cookie, so we continue soon after. The need to ride these unused mountain bike tracks has been vanished though and we meander around the track I created following mostly narrow roads with very little traffic. But, that doesn’t make it very easy! The sun is burning and temperature rises fast. After another climb we ride down back to the Ourthe and the little town of Hamoir, where we treat ourselves to a huge bowl of Italian icecream! From here it’s a nice and easy ride along the river back to Esneux, with only a few unpaved parts.
The next day we are wiser… I brought a map too and we find another round trip crossing one little town after the other. After a late breakfast we hit the road, armed with bottles of water. Again, nearly no traffic here and that makes for another great ride. We cross some rivers, ride up and down the hills and lose a lot of sweat. In the early afternoon we ride back to the campsite, have a shower and treat ourselves to a pizza and a Belgian beer on the terrace of the campsite’s cafe. The good life!
Yet, another great microadventure; involving camping, being outside and riding the hills. We should do this every weekend!