Following the example of the Belgian children’s book character Martine inviting you in her daily life, meet Dalí, a dog rambling on the Plateau des Tailles in Manhay. A magnificent flora and fauna await you along the way. Peace, sensory awakening and respect to nature will be the keywords of this splendid walk off the beaten tracks and yet signposted. Discover our advice, tricks and pictures.

Difficulty

Medium

Distance

3 or 9 km

Signposting

Start

The observation tower of Manhay

Panoramic tower / good to know

Near the Baraque de Fraiture in the village of Manhay, we went to discover the beautiful Plateau des Tailles in family with our good fellow, Dalí.  It is our little dog, a one-year-old Cavalier King Charles.  It is bursting with energy, it loves discovering new walks, rolling in the mud and splashing about in the water.  It must have been a Labrador in a previous life.  These are the reasons why we decided to cut its hair very short this summer… Our apologies to the purists.

First and foremost, I would like to mention that it is an unusual and quiet walk.  You will indeed be able to discover a preserved nature as well as new species that are being introduced.  The path is thus sometimes marked out and sometimes non-existent.  In that case, you must go straight ahead.  Even with my underdeveloped sense of direction, as my boyfriend says, I still could find my way.

If you are looking for a walk with your dog on marked out paths and/or with pushchair/bicycle, please have look at this walk in Herve.

As far as our present walk is concerned, we recommend starting it at the observation tower, the address of which is aforementioned.  If you get to the 1st or 2nd floor of the tower, you will enjoy a beautiful panoramic view and observe the forests and peat bogs that you are about to get through.  In the meanwhile, other members of your group and your dog may enjoy the picnic table at your disposal for a peaceful and safe snack.

The Plateau des Tailles, a protected natural park

The Plateau des Tailles is part of the Natura 2000 network and is included in the European project LIFENatagora also takes part by reimplanting biologically interesting natural habitats.  You will be able to discover more information about how they actually did this by reading the explanatory panels along the way.  Speaking about this, I remember playing with butterflies as a child in my garden.  Nowadays, my children will not have the chance to do the same because there are much less butterflies than there used to.  From there, you will be able to observe dozens of them of all colours (white, black, yellow, yellow with black spots, blue) as well as grey and blue dragonflies.  A real paradise that your children will enjoy discovering.  In order to preserve this fauna, our four-pawed fellows must be on a leash.  With a little bit of luck and patience, which Dalí does not have, you will be able to observe the Eurasian wryneck (bird with camouflaging plumage), the vanessa cardui (butterfly) or a black stork.

The signposting

First and foremost, we recommend that you download an app that can read GPX data or just follow the arrow and the blue rectangle.  We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the booklets will take you in the opposite direction of this arrow.  We recommend you start by following the arrow, i.e. keeping right when facing the observation tower and keeping the Aisne river on your left.  You will then be able to follow either the blue or green rectangle.

Let’s go

As soon as we started our walk, we were welcomed by a cuckoo.  Dalí stopped to tell us that he had never heard that typical chatter.  We enjoyed this and shared this moment with the children.  By the way, did you know a cuckoo cuckoos?

After entering the forest, we could see fences.  These are meant to protect the recently reimplanted plant species; this is also the reason why your dog must be on a leash.  It is also a good opportunity to explain to your children the importance of preserving the biodiversity and flora, which will allow a rich fauna to develop.  (Why not play a little game: take a bag and collect waste if you find any; it is a playful way to teach them to respect nature.)

Dalí was not disturbed by the fences all along the way.  But he was puzzled by all the smells he encountered.  He even tried to follow paw prints… Of a doe maybe?  The children also found this quite interesting!

The discovery of deep puddles

It was now time to have a snack break, get out of the forest, enter the peat bog… and the deep puddles that go with it.  Just for the record, I had read about those in our booklet.  Not knowing what those were, I did not seek to know more.  A mistake that led us to enjoy several footbaths in those ponds, sometimes up to the calf.  The good thing was that our dog is quite big for its age; it simply loved it!  It enjoyed a good mud thalassotherapy.  Those puddles were actually more quagmires than puddles.  If your four-pawed fellow is smaller than a Cavalier King Charles, you may need to lift it up a little.  At that moment, the quagmires were sometimes too large and/or deep so we had to leave the beaten track a little bit.  The right man for the job saw to it to help us cross some of them when our youngest child was losing her balance.

Further on our way, we met a Dutch tourist who, by the look of his trousers and socks, had met the same sort of puddles.  We had thus still some way to go through these wet holes,  which seemed logical since we could now hear the source spurting out of the ground and streaming.  These twists and turns allowed us to discover the emerging Aisne river with its surrounding nature.  A true magical moment for the whole family, our dog included, in a calm and peaceful location.  Only the chatter of the birds was to be heard… A real moment of consciousness to make the most of the flavours and colours offered by Mother Nature.  It is there that we could observe the most dragonflies and butterflies.  Please, be reassured, the tall grass will help your four-pawed fellow dry up its paws.

A little bit further along the brook, you will get to a small bridge that you will have to cross to enter the woods.

Let us finish off in style

When you get to the highest point of the wood, you will be able to see and understand what the route actually looks like.  The landscape is absolutely superb and you will be able to find your way around thanks to the observation tower which is always visible in the distance.  The fun thing is that when we got out of the wood, a cuckoo greeted us once again with its chatter.

The last section will take you back to the road, just bare right when getting out of the wood and you will get to the parking lot a little bit further.  The road is not much busy and the traffic is almost non-existent.  And beside the marvellous landscapes of the Fens region, a glider and hot-air balloon show awaited us to our greatest delight.  After a short snack break and a drying up session, Dalí was all clean and ready to set off again but this time by car until our house where it literally fell asleep.  Who said a dog’s life is harsh in good families?

Strong points

  • Parking-lot: Observation tower (Tour d’observation), route du Poteau de Chabrehez, 6960 Manhay
  • Route click here
  • Quiet walk, roads and low traffic roads

  • Picnic table at the bottom of the observation tower

Weak points

  • Peat bogs with sometimes 20 cm deep puddles
  • Few varieties of landscapes

Good to know

  • Dogs : Possible if on a leash, the smaller ones may need to be lifted up in the peat bog sections.
  • Necessary gear : Boots (or spare walking shoes if you do not have any), trousers and caps; dog leashes, handkerchiefs/wipes/towels
  • Soil type : 1/3 forest and 2/3 peat bog paths (forest paths in the open)
  • Name of the walk: The sources of the Aisne (Les sources de l’Aisne) 

A weekend in Manhay?

Are you all set  to book a holiday house within a radius of 15 km around the village of Manhay? Here are all our available and dog friendly holiday houses.