The High Fens nature park is a place not to be missed if you love going for walks. The park extends beyond the Belgian border to Germany and it offers a unique setting in Europe! Its landscapes of moors and peat bogs allow you to enjoy the rich fauna and flora at any time of the year. Do you want to take your dog on a walk? If so, this article is for you!
Many walks accessible to dogs in the High Fens
As I am originally a « lopette » (this is how the people of Solwaster are called), I love to go for walks in this region close to my home. Often, I go with my family, or simply with my mom. She is a very good guide, with an unparalleled sense of direction! She is also organized (she always carries her trail map, a water bottle, some fruit and a K-way in her bag) sporty and cultivated, she sets the pace and makes me discover the secrets of our beautiful Ardennes. It’s so good to enjoy together this exceptional nature that surrounds us. We take the opportunity, of course, to bring Arko, the dog of my parents, who always bursts out like a maniac during our walks. He is getting old (he is already 11 years old!), but he regains all his vitality and youthful madness as soon as I put on my walking shoes. I think that he also really appreciates the Ardennes landscapes!
There are many walks accessible to dogs in the High Fens. However, in the Nature Reserve the fauna, flora, nature and landscapes are strictly protected. In this area, dogs are not allowed, even while on a leash. But even though you won’t be able to walk on the duckboards in the heart of the Nature Reserve, you can still enjoy the magical setting around it. The nearby forests are also worth visiting and they are accessible to dogs (except during hunting season)!
The « La Polleur » 4 km walk
If you don’t have much time, but you still want to go out with your four-legged friend, I recommend the « La Polleur » 4 km walk (lien autre article ?). This easy educational trail, which is also child-friendly and accessible to buggies, allows you to discover the beauty of the High Fens flora.
Walk with diverse landscapes
If you have a little more time and your dog needs to let off some steam (as is the case with our Arko), then choose, like my mom and me, the 7 km walk with its diverse landscapes! From the Baraque Michel, this walk will plunge you into the heart of the moorlands and peat bogs of the High Fens while you are immersed in the mysterious Ardennes forests. On your own, with your family, with friends or simply with your dog, this walk offers 1h30m of relaxation and fun.
We start our walk with the discovery of the Chapel Fischbach, which was built in 1830. Topped by a small bell (recently stolen!), the chapel also originally had a lantern that the Schmitz family, owners of the Baraque Michel, would lit every night to serve as a guide to passersby. We continue straight on, following the green rectangles, and discover the Fagne. We walk on this path in the midst of the peat bogs and cottongrass that we had observed from a distance because cottongrass means water! These perennial plants grow in aquatic or wet environments. So it is best not to get too close (it is also forbidden to leave the trails). A little further, we stop in front of the Croix des Fiancés. This cross, well-known in the High Fens, bears witness to the unfortunate story of François (then 32 years old) and Marie (then 24 years old), a young engaged couple who met at the Kermesse of Jalhay. They were getting married in the spring of 1871, but that year’s harsh winter prevented them from doing so… Marie and François went to Xhoffraix to collect the last documents they needed for their union when they were caught in a snowstorm and got lost forever. Walking in the High Fens is very nice and refreshing, but you still have to be careful. So always remember to bring your map with you, because it is easy to get lost.
About half-way through our walk, at the Beleu bridge, we decided to leave the green rectangles to continue following the GR trail, the red and white lines (You can also continue following the rectangles of « The Cross of Fiancés – Hoëgne – Six Beeches » walk, which covers 12 km in total). So we took a left turn in the woods to the « Fagne La Polleur ». This section is a little more sporty because there is a strong climb and the trail is punctuated with roots and is sometimes slippery, but it is worth the effort… We arrive at the top and catch our breath in front of a superb view of the Fagne. The birds’ singing, the smell of the Ardennes, the sound of the running water of the Polleur’s stream flowing, the dog sitting by our side contemplating this green landscape… A timeless moment!
After this nice little break, we continue our way and follow the few old duckboards that trace our way in the forest. I love walking on the duckboards, it’s so typical of the High Fens! The only downside is that we had to walk one behind the other and it is harder to chat. That’s why, at the next junction at the exit of the wood, we choose to turn left on to a wider path instead of right to the duckboards that lead to Mount Rigi (a path that you can also take to finish your walk, which will take a little bit longer). After a good ten minutes, once again in the heart of the moors and peat bogs, we find an educational panel, we enter the woods on the left, and at the next intersection we finish our walk by following the green crosses to find our car. Arko was happy and tired! He literally collapsed at our feet during our little drink at the Baraque Michel!
My advice for a successful walk in the High Fens with your dog?
- Bring a long leash to hold your dog
- Bring a map: do not hesitate to go to the info points (at the Baraque Michel or the Botrange Park House) to get one!
- Do not let your dog run free: fines are expensive (150 €)!
- Diverse landscapes: in the middle of the Fagne, in the forest, on wooded paths, on duckboards, along the water…
- A unique all-year-round setting
- Clear view of the Fagne
- Place to have a drink together after the walk
- Free parking
- Possibility to lengthen the walk, if you feel like it
- Not accessible to buggies or people with reduced mobility
Good to know
- The High Fens trails map is available at the Baraque Michel or at the Botrange Park House
Discover also the walk and adventures of Dali, the dog of Vinciane; in a different but also nice landscape!