What could be more refreshing than discovering the most beautiful corners of Wallonia on horseback? What's more, a brand-new trail is available, "The Chevauchée Trail in the Pays des Lacs region", an exceptional route. But there are others, in varied but always stunning landscapes, that can be discovered on horseback. This is a real return to nature.
The Chevauchée Trail in the Pays des Lacs region, a ride in exceptional natural surroundings
Do you know the Pays des Lacs? Straddling the provinces of Namur and Hainaut, the region boasts unspoilt nature, ancient forests and five of Belgium's most beautiful stretches of water. The Pays des Lacs Tourism Office has created its first equestrian trail here. This 220-km trail is divided into twelve routes and covers the nine municipalities of the Forêt du Pays de Chimay : Sivry-Rance, Froidchapelle, Momignies, Chimay, Couvin, Cerfontaine, Philippeville, Doische and Viroinval. Its special feature is that it follows 132 km of trails in the Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse National Park. It is a major attraction. This park contains 80% of Wallonia's biodiversity, boasting exceptional natural environments. It contains wooded and rural areas comprising rivers and streams, the limestone hillsides of the Calestienne, stone villages and ancient bridges, charming medieval towns, abbeys, castles and museums. Most of the walk or ride takes place on forest tracks or secondary roads, but it also crosses villages, towns and the occasional road. In practice, it is a large 146 km loop in seven stages, a 142 km variant in six stages and a small 58 km loop. It is perfect solo or in a group and for riders with different levels of experience.
To make your ride easier, an equestrian roadbook describes each stage using a mental map showing equestrian accommodation (fenced meadows, stables, boarding houses, etc.) and stops (places to visit, farm shops, restaurants, etc.) with the appropriate equipment and infrastructure for riders. It also includes points of interest, as well as a list of vets, farriers, and car and van parks. Although there are currently no markers along the trail, these will be added in the near future. Orientation is via the mental map or by following the GPX track which can be downloaded free of charge using a QR code. On this all-new route, you can stay in a bed & breakfast, gîte, tent, or even bivouac while enjoying tasty local dishes and products. For unforgettable memories.
The Route d'Artagnan au Pays de Herve, the 4th musketeer would have loved it
The Pays de Herve on horseback is another way to discover the region. Before crossing the border into the Netherlands, the Route d'Artagnan winds its way through wooded countryside, hedgerows and orchards, passing through a number of picturesque villages: Cornesse, Soiron, Olne, Xhendelesse, José, Herve, Battice, Thimister, Clermont-sur-Berwinne, Froidthier, Charneux, Saint-André, Blegny-Trembleur, Feneur, Dalhem, Richelle, Argenteau, Hermalle-sous-Argenteau, Lixhe and Lanaye. Some are among the Most Beautiful Villages in Wallonia. They include Soiron, Olne and Clermont-sur-Berwinne. Along the way, you will come across such remarkable sites as the Val-Dieu Abbey (don't forget to stop for a beer!) and the former mining site turned tourist attraction of Blegny-Mine. The first cultural equestrian itinerary, the European Route d'Artagnan is an equestrian tourism project that will cover a distance of more than 6,000 km and link the birth and death locations of the Gascon hero, passing through the most important places in his life, both real and fictional, in six European Union countries. This is a different way to brush up on your classics.
La Chevauchée forestière, horse-riding in the heart of Saint-Hubert Forest
In the Belgian Ardennes, in the heart of the Grande Forêt de Saint-Hubert, La Chevauchée forestière, is a timeless, 168 km unmarked horse trail. Following wild wooded rivers (Almache, Basseille, Lesse, Lomme, Masblette, Our, Ourthe, etc.) through valleys, some crossed by fords, takes you away from everyday life. Most of the route is on unsurfaced roads and also passes through forests in exceptional natural environments. With its fords, rugged terrain and sometimes difficult byways, the La Chevauchée forestière and its loops are reserved for experienced riders. Would you prefer a shorter ride? La Chevauchée is divided into five combinable loops. Create your own à la carte route to suit your needs: Chevauche de Saint Monon (31 km), Chevauchée de la Bonne Dame (37 km), Chevauchée des vallées sauvages (47 km), Chevauchée sur les pas de Saint Hubert (62 km). Enjoy a stopover in horse-friendly accommodation and an excellent welcome. Contemplate the surrounding nature...
Les Cavaliers de Saint-Remacle, horse riding on the banks of the River Semois
In the south of the province of Luxembourg, ten minutes from Bouillon, in the small village of Cugnon, Cécile and Michel warmly welcome visitors to their hiking centre Les Cavaliers de Saint-Remacle, named after the saint who evangelised the Ardennes. This region offers a real challenge for horseback riders and they will guide you along the winding Semois, one of Wallonia's most beautiful rivers. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rider, you can enjoy horse rides adapted to your level. The programme includes horse riding in the forest or along the banks of the Semois, wading (always a great experience!), mushroom picking and listening to the bellowing if it is the right time of year. Beginners are also welcome. Several types of hikes are available to suite your needs: half-day, full-day or weekend. A three-hour stroll in the woods is a must! This is the perfect time to sample seasonal local produce such as garden vegetables, home-smoked ham and stone-baked bread. Are you looking to get away from it all? In addition to the banks of the Semois, discover the Domaine des Epioux and the Vierre dam... Several unusual types of accommodation await you.
Western Rando, old-fashioned hiking
Are you looking for a radical change of scene? Back to the west, to Hainaut and the western atmosphere. In the Mons region, in Flénu, near Frameries, Western Rando is an American riding centre for children and adults. It offers courses in western working techniques, as well as rides lasting a few hours, multi-day treks and training courses. The centre has horse stalls and, of course, a saloon. This is a place to party!
By Jacqueline Remits