A quiet country hike with lots of unpaved paths and variation between woods and open landscapes. Wide open views along the way.
(the track is based upon information from the grsentiers.org website, the Walloon GR organisation; always consult their website for the most recent situation)
We reach Trois-Ponts (busstop Pont de la Salm) with TEC bus 294 from Verviers. The ride takes about an hour.
There's also an IC train from Liège-Guillemins to Gouvy and Luxemburg. The train stops in Trois-Ponts. This ride also takes about an hour.
GR 14 passes by the trainstation of Trois-Ponts.
In Lierneux (busstop Gare des Bus or Monument) we took a bus to Vielsalm (a 30 minutes ride). From Vielsalm we traveled on by train to Liège-Guillemins.
There's also a later bus going from Lierneux to Aywaille. From there you can also travel on by train to Liège-Guillemins.
(Always check this information with the websites and apps of the transportation companies involved - NMBS/SNCB, De Lijn, Infotec... Travel schedules change regularly and differ according to the day and the hour of your trip)
Trois-Ponts is a place we already know a bit. We've been there several times changing from busses to trains and vice versa. Its also a place where the GR 571 trail passes. We've been hiking GR 571 a few years ago.
Our bus rides to the trainstation, but we save ourselves the few hundred meters between the station and the center by getting off the bus at Pont de la Salm. In the center, next to a supermarket, we find a pub that is already open despite the early hour. A coffee is always a good start after a long bumpy busride.
In Trois-Ponts the Salm river and the much smaller Bâleur (also known as the Ruisseau de Bodeux) flow into the Amblève. Put a bridge over each one of these rivers and you have the name of the place (Trois-Ponts means Three Bridges). Crossing the bridge over the Salm and a bit further a small one over the Bâleur, we leave Trois-Ponts behind us. The latter bridge is surprisingly called the "Pont des Soupirs" (Bridge of Sighs), although it's no comparison at all with the famous bridge in Venice.
(screenshot from the Osmand app)
We follow the little stream for about 6 km, passing by Basse-Bodeux where a huge and plump looking racebike is supposed to decorate a roundabout. Along the road we also pass a cave entrance, but apart from a hole in the rock there's nothing to be seen there. Past Basse-Bodeux the forest path narrows to an almost completely overgrown track. It doesn't look like as if many people are using this path.
A small bridge brings us to the other side of the brook and then the trail climbs up to Reharmont and the sober St-Remacle chapel. Beer enthousiasts will probably prefer to hear that a few steps away a microbrewery (Brasserie de la Lienne) has its installations. Proud of their region they even refer to the GR 14 trail on their website.
From Reharmont GR 14 continues a slow ascent through the forest and arrives at a large open strip with a picnic table and a cross. Above us we hear the crackling sounds of high-voltage lines. Information panels in a beautiful wooden hut explain that the LIFE Elia-RTE project is being implemented here. The project is financed by the European Commission, the Walloon Region and the companies that manage the Belgian and the French electricity networks, Elia and RTE. Their goal is to create green corridors in forested areas where their high-voltage lines are passing, thus promoting the biodiversity in the area. At a distance a bulldozer and an excavator are at work. The hut (with publicity for the construction firm) shows that there's no lack of money for the project, although weeds are already growing high through the wooden floor. Sadly, the dead snake we found in the hut won't benefit anymore from the project...
Reaching an altitude of 540m, the trail descends towards Arbrefontaine. We arrive at the village along an 18th-century calvary. At the St-Maurice church a row of old tombstones decorate the wall. Inside the church a wooden ceiling, painted with representations of saints, would be worth a visit. But the doors are closed...
Leaving Arbrefontaine we walk through an open landscape. Again the high-voltage lines and their pylons dominate the skyline. Somewhat later we cross the hamlet Brux and then are offered wide open panoramic views towards Lierneux and its surroundings. The hamlet La Falize owes its name to the Roche Jehenson, a small rock massif which reminds us that we're in the Ardennes.
We arrive at the Lienne river and follow its course for a while. The river has its source somewhere between Lierneux and the Baraque de Fraiture at an altitude of 460m. 29km later it flows into the Amblève at Targnon. GR 571 follows the Lienne from Lierneux to Targnon, and after having crossed the still small river we meet that trail. This is also the place where we say goodbye to the GR 14 trail to go to the center of Lierneux and our busstop.
We're half an hour early for the bus to Vielsalm. We didn't notice any café near the busstop, so we pass the time by admiring the old tram that used to ride between Lierneux and Vielsalm.
At 15.30 sharp we're waiting at the busstop, but the bus doesn't show. 20 minutes later I check the SNCB/NMBS and TEC websites to find out that the next bus will arrive at 16.45. Another hour waiting? We decide to hitchhike and walk up to the intersection where the road to Vielsalm starts. And what do we find there? A café! Café des Sports is normally closed on Mondays, but the World Championship Football means money and so they're exceptionally open. The game only starts at 5pm, it's still quiet. We forget about the hitchhiking plans and enjoy a nice time sipping our beers and observing the fans arriving in the Belgian colors. It's amazing to see how 22 millionaires that are kicking against a ball filled with air, succeed in what our politicians can't accomplish: creating a national feeling and a bit of Belgian pride!
At 16.45 a small TEC van arrives at the busstop Lierneux Monument. It's a replacement bus! We're the only two passengers, the rest of Belgium is watching football.