A hike to like! Admire the Warche valley from the Falize Rock. Follow the Amblève river up to Stavelot. Enjoy the panoramic views and descend towards Trois-Ponts after a long climb.
The Ardennes at their best!
(this track is based upon the information from the grsentiers.org website - the Walloon GR organisation; always consult their website for the most recent situation)
We reach Malmedy with TEC bus 395 from Verviers. The ride takes about one hour.
In Trois-Ponts we take bus 294 at the busstop Gare SNCB, direction Verviers. The trip takes 75 minutes.
TEC bus 745 connects Trois-Ponts and Malmedy.
(Always verify this information with the websites and apps of the public transportation companies concerned - NMBS/SNCB, De Lijn, Infotec... Travel schemes and rosters change regularly, and are different according to the day and the hour of travel)
The first half of this hike coincides with a piece of the GR 56 trail which we already walked in October last year (GR 56: Malmedy - Pont). Up to the hamlet Falize GR 14 then followed a different track, closer to the Warche river. The GR 56 trail must be more interesting, because now both tracks run together on this part of the hike.
Near Falize our eye catches a sign pointing to the Falize Rock. Although we already passed that spot, we must have missed it at the time. That's a pity, because it's an amazingly beautiful spot. Impressive quartzite blocks tower over the valley and offer beautiful views over it. Somewhat further on the trail we also pass the Warche Rock, but that one is by far not that impressive. These rocks resisted the erosion process when the Warche river constructed its valley. On the poor soil around the rocks juniper bushes are growing. We were there around noon, the perfect time for a picknick.
(screenshot from the Osmand app)
Passed the Falize Rock the trail descends towards the Warche river. The valley is a beauty to behold, we can't get enough of it. Having crossed the river we enter the village of Warche and pass underneath the E42 viaduct. This is where the Warche throws its waters into the Amblève. When we reach the water again, we're walking along the Amblève river. We follow the bank over quite a distance on a large and comfortable forest path. At the Passerelle de Challe, a pedestrian bridge, GR 14 and GR 56 split up, each going its separate way. We continue straight ahead to Stavelot.
Just before arriving in Stavelot, we cross the Eau Rouge, a brook which has its source near Francorchamps, running through the famous racing circuit. At the start of this hike, when we left Malmedy and were walking high above the Warche valley, we could hear the howling engines making their rounds on the circuit. The Eau Rouge ends here in the Amblève. I also notice the Camping des Challes. Years ago, when I was walking on the GR 5 trail, I put up my tent here. The place still looks as quiet as then.
In Stavelot we take a break at the red abbey. The 18th-century buildings and the excavations of the 11th-century remains have been meticulously restored. The complex houses 3 museums: the Spa-Francorchamps Racetrack Museum, the Historical Museum of the Principality of Stavelot-Malmedy and the Guillaume Apollinaire Museum (see also GR 56: Botrange - Malmedy on the Guillaume Apollinaire monument at Bernister). They also regularly organise other exhibitions.
At the bridge over the Amblève we cross the famous GR 5 trail. GR 14 keeps following the river valley for another 2 kilometers. Where the Ruisseau du Chapiron flows into the Amblève our path leaves the river. The climb seems endless. Exhausted we reach Aisomont. Near this village one can find the longest alpine skiing slope in Belgium, Val de Wanne. It's 1 km long and descends 100 meters. An absurd idea to consider in the high temperatures at the time of the hike.
During 450 m we follow a busy traffic road. Quite a few cyclists sweat themselves up here, coming from Trois-Ponts. We don't envy them. The cars passing by all seem to drive at crazy speeds, their drivers probably pissed off because they regularly have to slow down for the cyclists. We're all too happy when we can leave the road for a quiet forest path, starting our own descent towards Trois-Ponts.
At the Leroux watchtower the descent becomes steeper. We again reach the same traffic road. Below us we look upon the bus and trainstation of Trois-Ponts, the end of this hike. It's also the place where we cross yet another trail: GR 571.