- Walking or hiking
The nature reserve around Lake Virelles is the starting point for this hike through the Forest of Blaimont. The family-friendly circuit takes you into a natural landscape away from noise and bustle. The nearby town of Chimay, with its historic centre and magnificent castle, is also open to visitors.
The region is best known for the Trappist monastery of Notre-Dame de Scourmont, and the beers brewed there, so you should definitely allow time to discover more of this area
Start and finish: parking of the Lake of Virelles
Distance: 8 km
Route/Points of interest
- After the car park in front of the ‘Lac de Virelles’ Nature Centre (S) a path gently descends to the left across a meadow, then turns right into the woods and eventually emerges at the ‘Rue de Lac’, where an information board marks the effective departure point of the route.
- Here, the remains of an ancient forge (1) are evidence of the metallurgy industry that was prevalent in this region between the 15th and 19th centuries.
- A path turns sharply to the left and climbs into the wood before rapidly emerging at a forest road which turns to the right after about 500 metres.
- Then it continues on level ground, straight ahead to a clearing. Keep right on the asphalt road.
- After crossing an old railway track, go into the wood again at the second junction, turning left on a sunken path.
- The route continues on level ground, but you can see on your right the deep valley where the path will take you in about 2.5 kilometres.
- On the outskirts of Lompret , which is officially among the most beautiful villages in Wallonia with houses built from grey limestone 17th and 18th century, the route continues to the right on the asphalt track.
- It’s worthwhile making a small detour through the village of Lompret (2) to see Saint-Nicolas church and the ancient ruins of a castle. Remains of the Stone Age and the Roman era, and the rock formation on the opposite side of the valley, are equally worth a detour.
- The main trail continues briefly on asphalt, then heads to the left, crosses the stream (‘L’Eau Blanche’) in front of a holiday centre to arrive in a small, peaceful valley (here and there the path can become muddy in winter).
- At a junction, keep right and climb on a forest track up to a high plateau.
- At the end of the wood, an asphalt path guides you to the right to the village of Vaulx (3).
- Then it turns right in front of the church and continues as far as the edge of the village before descending to the left into the valley.
- When level with an asphalt road, the route turns briefly to the right across a bridge.
- After crossing the stream a little path heads left along the riverbank and across a wood in the direction of a viaduct.
- This construction, 26 metres high and 135 metres long, crosses the valley of l’Eau Blanche in eight loops.
- From 1858 to 1950 it carried the railway line between Anor, Chimay, Mariembourg and Hastière. Because of the viaduct’s dilapidation, the route doesn’t go directly beneath it.
- It continues for several hundred metres before the signage indicates a steep path that climbs to the right and by-passes the viaduct, later to reach the river and finally the old forge where you can return to the departure point and the car park along the same road.
Prepare your walk
Make sure you wear good hiking boots and comfortable walking shoes. A walking stick will also help. Some paths can be closed during the hunting season: do check with the local tourist office beforehand.
Always take some snacks and water with you. Please note there is no café nor restaurant along the trail.
Attractions near Virelles
The nearby Cistercian abbey of Notre Dame de Scourmont is famous for its Trappist beers. Eating possibilities on the route: the unpretentious but tasty homemade menu at ‘L’Eau Blanche’ at Lompret (rue Gustave Joaris 27) or the largely organic, locally sourced café ‘Aquascope’ (departure point).
Make sure to make a stop at the Aquascope too.
In the downloadable brochure below, we have selected one of the best walks per province: natural gems, family friendly paths, memorable views along the way, trails sprinkled with history… One even will introduce you to the iconic abbey beers.
A walker's guide to Wallonia