Whit Sunday. The weather is forecasted to be 29C and sunny with a chance of showers. This time we don’t take a tent with us, but a tarp. That should suffice for these temperatures and some rain.
We ascent to Les Tartines and look at the confluence of the Ourthe and the Amblève. At a junction a farmer is taking a nap in the grass. We say hello and ask for confirmation of the way to Oneux in our best French. He points in the direction we were heading and says: “Un bon kilomètre, … et demi peut-être”. We thank him, he sits in the grass again and continues to doze.
The GR remains at altitude today with beautiful views over the Ourthe and Amblève valleys. The weather is muggy and we’re sweating when we arrive at Martinrive around three o’clock. Too early to call it a day. “Fortunately” the camp site has been closed six years ago and the grass is leg high. We continue to walk to Aywaille, where we enter in the mids of a bicycle festival. The camp site is fully occupied but there’s always a spot to put a small tent.
The next day starts with some showers. We just packed our bags and wait. The rain makes the temperature drop and refreshed we start to ascent again. Slowly the day turns muggy again, just like yesterday.
In the forest a trailrun is taking place. The trailrunners started at the same time we started our ascent. Thirty-three kilometers of running. We’ll see them again a few times this day.
As a bonus we make a small detour through the Ninglinspo valley. We follow a forest to the start of the valley. A forrest full of horseflies and other not-so-nice insects. From the beginning of the small valley the route descends again: 350 meters in three kilometers, just next to the creek or sometimes through the creek. The closer to the village we come, the busier it gets. The peak of tourists is of-course at the end of the valley in the village of Nonceveux.
There is a camp site in Nonceveux, but it’s the second time we think it is too early to stop. Along the Amblève we continue our trail to Fonds de Quarreux. There’s a small and quiet camp site named au Moulin du Diable. The name refers to a local legend: The Fonds de Quarreux are the large boulders located in the Amblève here. The miller, Hubert Chefneux, was promised to own a beautiful mill if he would give his soul to the devil. The wife of the miller worried about her husband’s soul and hid herself in the mill with Notre-Dame de Dieupart’s medal in her hands. That made the mill blades halt. The devil went outrageous and casted down the mill: The large boulders fell down to the Amblève one by one.
We think the devil is still present around there: at three o’clock in the night he awakes us with thunderstorms and hail the size of large marbles. Our tarp passes this twenty-minute test without problems. In the morning we see the devil in the forest on the other side of the camp site. He looks at us with a bit of a grimace:
The GR571 leaves the Amblève now and ascends next to the Chefna creek. We like this little valley just a bit more than the Ninglinspo. Less tourists, the trails are just a bit smaller and windier and we’re there at the right moment: in the morning after some nightly rain. The sun is still low on the horizon and the forest steams mysterically. It’s a beautiful morning.
We walk to Coo. Though both guidebooks don’t mention a camp site in Coo, there is one present. We pitch our tarp and start to cook when suddenly the sky turns black. We grab our saucepan from the fire and sit under the tarp. For twenty minutes the wind tries to grab our tarp on all sides possible. The thunders roar and lightning crashes above us. We hear trees squeak in the wind. When it is over, the camp site has no electricity anymore. A tree fell into the electricity cables, which broke. The Amblève has risen ten centimeters in these twenty minutes and is brown-coloured now. After our meal we help the camp site guard drinking Bellevaux Blanche. It would be a pity if the beer would warm because the fridge is out of electricity.
This is the first part of three of the GR571. The last day we walk at altitude from Coo to Trois-Ponts with nice views on the route we’ve walked. In the forest we see what the storm has done: innumerable amount of blown away branches and more fallen trees than we’d expected.
In Trois-Ponts we take the train back to the starting point. We’re hungry for more GR571. Nice, quiet, beautiful sceneries and close to home!
Op pad met rugzak en tent
Sjef van de Poel
GR571, Vallées des Légendes Amblève, Salm, Lienne
Topo-Guide du Sentier de Grande Randonnée