Week 5: Bellignies – Treignes

August 10: Bellignies – Villers-Sire-Nicole : 27,33 km

Today I already got up at 3:20 to avoid the heat. There were +22 km on the menu, which means more than six hours to go, including breaks. Moreover, I now also have to take into account the increasing number of altimeters.

 

My tent was still very wet, because from 11:45 PM to 1:30 AM it had rained and thundered heavily. As a result, I had slept very little.

 

At 4:45 am I left with my Petzl headlight on my head because it was still pitch dark. The start of my trip was in the woods and was probably the most beautiful of the day, but in the dark one doesn’t see very much of the landscape, but the peacefulness and quietness of the night felt very nice.

 

By daylight, I strolled through a monotonous rural landscape with meadows, potato and corn fields and mown wheat fields. Not a tree to be seen. Luckily the sun only appeared through the clouds by noon, but because of the humidity after the thunderstorm the air was very sweaty.

 

 

In Villers-Sire-Nicole I had the luck to find a small bakery which wasn’t mentioned on Google Maps. There I could stock up on some tasty but unhealthy provisions. Better that than nothing.

 

Around 12:30 pm I reached Camping le Avallees, where I was bluntly refused because of Covid-19. Only year campers were allowed, but this was not announced on their website. the manageress said I should go wild camping. Nevertheless, she was so kind to fill my water bag, because it was completely empty due to the sweltering weather. Because wild camping is prohibited here, I took a selfie with the campsite in the background so I could prove to the police that I had tried to check in. In addition to all this, it was the hottest time of the day then and I had 26 kilometers in my tired legs.

 

I then walked to the forest nearby and decided to ask local residents if I could camp on one of the nearby meadows.

 

First I came across a fishing area with some caravans. There was a telephone number at the entrance to register for a party on 15 August. I called to ask if I could stay there overnight, but that was not possible because of that party. I was allowed to rest in the shade from my long trek, but not stay overnight.

 

After that break I left my backpack there and went to ask in the neighborhood if I could pitch my tent somewhere.

 

I was already lucky at the first house: Thomas, Nicolas and border collie Loki (Norse goddess) just walked down the garden path and they reacted very enthusiastically to my question. I had a fantastic afternoon and evening there.

 

More about them on the Sponsors blog page: Thomas&Nicolas

Gifts for my walk for Infirmiers de Rue asbl can be made via their website, stating ‘gift walk eva’. Many thanks.
For donations:
Infirmiers de rue/Straatverplegers

August 11: Villers-Sire-Nicole – Solre-sur-Sambre: 19,6 km

At 8 am I left the so hospitable Thomas and Nicolas with somewhat regret in my heart. They had shown me an old smuggling path to Rouveroy, Belgium, which saved me a long asphalt detour via Villers-Sire-Nicole.

 

On that country road I met Jean-François with his dog Gus, with whom I had a ‘dog chat’. One chat led to another. Jean-François worked for the Flemish Farmers’ Union (AVV) for a year, but then saw an opportunity to run his own farm in Rouveroy. An opportunity he grabbed with both hands. During his morning ride to his cows, he also picks up cans that unfortunately often lie on the roadsides.

 

 

I gave Jean-François a flyer and he showed a lot of appreciation for my walk and the work of Infirmiers de Rue asbl. He would ask his wife to make a tax-deductible donation. ❤️❤️

 

Shortly afterwards I found a connection to the Belgian GR network again, especially GR 129. This resulted in some extra kilometers, but thanks to the good road markings one doesn’t lose time staring at the GPS at intersections. Thanks to all local volunteers of vzw OpWeg and its Walloon counterpart who maintain these paths.

 

Having left later, the heat started bothering me more quickly, but due to the abundant nighttime rainfall, there were enough puddles to wet my neck protector regularly for a cool down.

 

On the way I met a couple from Berchem (my hometown!) Following the GR in the other direction. They had a long stretch to go to Mons, fortunately packed with lighter backpacks.

 

Just before Solre-sur-Sambre I had to make a detour of 2.5 km to the next bridge over the Sambre because the local lock bridge was being repaired. In full sun and just after I had taken the last draft from my water bag… By the time I ,reached the centre of the village I was quite overheated and thirsty. Café Clé de Sol had its weekly rest day, but I saw someone inside. The kind manager – whose first name I forgot to ask – gave me a chilled 2 liter bottle of still water. That was gorgeous!

 

 

My tent will be in Hélène’s garden tonight, More about her on the Sponsors Blog page: Helène

 

Today I wrote my report with my feet and calves hanging in the cool water of the Thure, on my way back from the local grocer. Wonderfully refreshing, chasing all the fatigue from my knackered legs! 😊

August 12: Solre-sur-Sambre- Thirimont : 12,8 km

Today I had an “off-day” in terms of walking. My backpack seemed much heavier than usual, although only one packet of oatmeal had been added. My legs felt like sawdust. I really don’t why, because I had a good rest on Tuesday afternoon, a good night’s sleep and at 7 a.m. it was not too hot yet. I think there was not enough oxygen in the air because of the persistent heat.

 

The middle 8 km of the trail were blazing hot: across a plateau with immense cornfields. Whenever there was a tree somewhere, I thought every time it was worth photographing it, because they were so rare. There wasn’t any habitation either, only golden fields intersected with wide gravel roads. It was very beautiful, if only it hadn’t been so hot.

 

The only thing I came across, was a small chapel with a very beautiful weathered stone saint statue. The text was no longer legible, probably he was the patron of agriculture.

 

About 300 meters next to the GR was the edge of a forest, but according to Osmand GPS there were no paths there.

 

When the path briefly touched the edge of the forest, I dove into the forest for quite some time to cool off a bit and regain my senses. Sun or shade, what a difference! I couldn’t care less about the numerous wasps and flies. Apparently they felt sorry for me because they didn’t sting me. 😊

 

 

After that shadow break I felt a bit better, and almost at the end of the long cornfield road, there were cows and I could wet my cap in their drinking bath. A fresh neck makes a big difference right away! The last 4 km were therefore a bit easier.

 

In the large garden of Boris and Sandrine I am at the back in a shady forest area. For tonight I ordered a pizza from neighbouring Beaumont village, because my food supply had shrunk a lot again. Today I didn’t come across any shop. There was one grocer, but I was there much too early before opening time this morning. Waiting for the shop to open was not an option with the impending heat during the day.

 

More about them on the Sponsors blog page: Boris&Sandrine

August 13: Thirimont – Vogenée: 23,9 km

Waking up at 4 a.m. and on the road at 5:30: about 22 km on the menu and, although slightly less warm weather was predicted, I preferred a few guaranteed cool morning hours to the less reliably predicted temperature drop. Right decision: until 10 a.m. the sun remained obscured by mist, but then in the afternoon the mercury rose rapidly to 34° in the shade.

 

My backpack was back to its normal weight today and the sawdust in my legs was gone. So, luckily I only had one “down day” yesterday.

 

The sunrise was special, every now and then the sun peeked through a crack in the overcast. I walked across a plateau and in the distance the I saw the little church towers of the villages I still had to pass.

 

 

Two deer, a few hares and a large cloud of starlings over the mowed fields animated the morning silence. Unfortunately too far away to make a picture.

I passed successively the villages of Clermont, Castillon and Fontenelle.

 

By 11:40 a.m. I was in Warcourt. I passed a Chinese restaurant which opened at noon and so I decided to wait to get a takeout vegetable dish for the evening. Slightly lighter and healthier than pizzas.

The last 3 km of the Chinese restaurant to Camping Le Cheslé I followed the Rue du Calvaire and it really was a calvary trip: uphill over concrete in full sun.

 

The street was lined with Catholic memorials. First I passed Saint Materne Basilica, the oldest parts of which date from the late 12th century. This place is a Mary pilgrimage site because the virgin Mary once appeared in a tree there.

 

Then I arrived at a cemetery, which was very welcome because I could  wet my cap and neck protection under a tap. This made the Calvary trip a bit more bearable.

 

I arrived at Camping Le Cheslé around 2 pm, where I received a very warm welcome.

More about this charming camping site on the Sponsors Blog page: Camping Le Cheslé

August 14: Vogenée – Sautour: 27,1 km

Short report today because I am really quite tired, although I slept until 5:30 this morning.

Most important fact of the day is that I crossed the threshold of 500 km. 520 km to be correct. Soon I will be about halfway, although I cannot really estimate how many kilometers are still ahead on those winding GR routes.

 

The first village on the way to Philippeville was Yves-Gomezée.

 

The GR then meandered through the fields on a quiet gravel road, but there was always car noise due to the busy roads nearby. My spectators were a grazing flight of geese and a tiny frog, barely bigger than a pebble. In the morning I got three light showers over me.

In Philippeville I finally had a little more choice in terms of food purchases because there was a Carrefour.

 

Then I had to carry on with a heavier backpack, so that my lower back started to hurt a little. Probably not unjustified …. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow after a night of rest.

 

 

I spend the night in Karl’s large garden in Sautour, right next to a beautiful pond. I can hear the ducks and geese scurrying and munching around my tent.

 

More about this special place on the Sponsors blog page: Karl’s Animal Farm

August 15 : Sautour – Matagne-la-Petite : 13,3 km

When I got up this morning I immediately felt that the pain in my lower back had not yet disappeared. I had to look for Karl for the picture, who was again somewhere in the field with the animals. The painful gnawing feeling with every step was still there, even without a backpack …

 

That is why I decided not to follow the GR, which again made a large circumscribing movement, and to take the shorter 13 km cycle route to Matagne-la-Petite. The first village I passed was Villers-en-Fagne. There was no one outside and it felt completely deserted. There was a real Maria cave in a private front garden.

 

During my lunch break sitting on a log in the forest, I forgot to take the daily ‘rest photo’. Therefore, for a change, a selfie with my backpack on my back, instead of me sitting on my backpack.

 

From Matagne-la-Grande I followed the Ravel (railway transformed into a road for slow (travel) traffic) to Matagne-la-Petite. The railway (<1864) was first only used for freight transport (limestone). When more factories came, he also transported passengers, mainly factory workers. In the 1970s the railway was demolished and since 1996 it has been transformed into a Ravel.

 

Tomorrow Sunday I’ll give my body a recuperation day.

August 16 : Le petit magasin

Yesterday the campsite manager told me that I could buy food ‘au petit magasin tout près’. I just had to go down and then right.

 

On the other side of the valley, a few hundred meters from the campsite, I did indeed see a few houses to the right of the road.

 

 

This morning I went there on my flip flops, hoping to get a piece of fruit. No “petit magasin” to be found. Some residents who were washing their cars informed me that “le petit magasin” was in Treignes, about 2 km away. This was too far to do on flip flops, so I strolled back to the campsite.

 

But hooray! When I checked it, Le petit magasin in Treignes turned out to be located next to the restaurant Montjoie where I had reserved a table for tonight (Sunday) at 6 pm. The camping tavern had nothing for vegetarians apart from a portion of fries. Not even a leaf of lettuce …. One time fries on Saturday evening was enough.

 

Some campers assured me that the shop would be open until 6:30 PM on Sundays. Perfect timing to make my purchases just before my dinner in the restaurant … and then to have a royal breakfast in the morning.

 

The thunderstorm was over and by 5 pm I made my way to Treignes, in a good mood and with better shoes. Le petit magasin was an AD Delhaize! Happy as I was, I thought they would definitely have a nice choice of food there, but as the photo shows, the store was closed on holidays.☹

 

So then I thought I would have dessert with fruit in restaurant Montjoie, but all their fruit was sold out …. They had a busy Sainte-Marie weekend (Assumption of Mary). Fortunately I could order a fresh lettuce.

 

Because the shop was closed, I could briefly hop into the Musée des sabots (Ecomusée du Viroin) at 6:00 PM. A separate photo report about this will follow tomorrow, because I didn’t have enough time to read all the info panels. There were some very fashionable and also special clogs on display!

 

 

Tomorrow I have to go to a campsite in France again, because the garden of the ‘Welcome to my garden’ website that I contacted on the Belgian side of the border did not respond. As a precaution, I first called the French camping manager to ask if I was welcome.

 

Six kilometers for a tasty salad. And oatmeal with water in the morning …. But the landscapes make up for everything.

 

Flash visit Ecomusée de Viroin, Treignes.

 

Only half an hour before closing time.

On the ground floor a complete overview of the history of clog making, from artisan to machine production methods.

On the top floor an overview of old crafts, all displayed in separate rooms.

 

A pleasant and manageable museum that is definitely worth a longer visit. On Sunday there is a demonstration with the clog-turning machines.

There is a little more explanation with the pictures.

More info about the Ecomusée de Viroin: https://www.ecomusee-du-viroin.be/

 

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