Hot, hot, hot. With temperatures in the 30’s we took on the Ciney to Huy cyclepath with the plan to go to Haverage for lunch and then back again. It’s an ideal start as it’s pretty flat compared to the rest of the Ardennes and will sort out any bike issues particularly as things usually happen on the first day. What I hadn’t counted on was this was a fast group as the children gobbled up the mileage to Hamois and then to Haverage. Entering the village there was lots of choice, a bar, boulangerie and shop, but the lady selling hot soup by the church had chosen the wrong day. The plan was to turn around here, but it was far too early, so we carried on to a lunch stop at Modave under the shade of the trees. Back along the path and we’d done a healthy 40 miles where Christopher kindly lit the BBQ and we rehydrated on Belgium beer and coca cola
We were picking our boulangerie up from Spontin in the morning and we were told that today the whole village was to be filled with an antique fair, so routes rejigged we headed for Yvoir to take it in on the way back. Our first stop was Crupet where we explored the Grottes St Antoine, after which it was up and over to the River Meuse, the only blip being the overly aggressive motorcycle convey who seemed to think they owned the road. A picnic by the river bank before going back up and over the hill and into Spontin where the antiques fair was in full swing. Rows of stalls with the same unsaleable? Stuff as in the UK, aside the addition of rows of Belgium beer glasses. However, the strawberries were delicious as were the freshly toasted chocolate waffles from the boulangerie. Back at the chateau it was pasta night as the chef produced piles of pasta with tomato, cheese or seafood sauce.
With temperatures in the 30’s the pool at Chevetogne was the target. Through Ciney and southwards, we arrived pretty quickly and everyone headed for the pool, swimming caps and budgie smugglers in tow. Other amusements included crazy golf and row boats which kept us amusing until 1530 when we left but not before drenching the children with water to cool their way for the climb out of Chevetogne Village. The pasta feast the previous night had only been half eaten, so Carrie et all did wonders in the kitchen producing pasta bakes and even better the girls went on to produce scones, yummy.
Thursday was a little cooler thank goodness as we headed back to Spontin before reaching the Meuse valley at Profondeville. On Eurovelo route 6 a lovely riverside path runs along the west bank and we were to take it to Namur. The cafes weren’t open which meant that we got to the ice cream shop that much faster which served over 20 different flavours as everyone crammed in as the rain had started to fall. Great timing that as we left after the storm and finished the path to Namur. For half the group this was the destination to return to Ciney via the train. For the rest it was further along the Meuse to return via Wierde. 8 children and a bunch of adults. All week the adults had been at the back, so a why not suggest an extension? If we went via Huy we could pick up the railway path, that meant 108km, none of the children had ever been this far and all were hammering along, what’s not to like? By 1930 we had done it, and yes the chef was back with Belgium meatballs and chips.
The weather had broken on Friday, storms had passed through overnight and rain was falling as we tucked into our croissants. By 1000 it had stopped, so we made a break for it. Heading along the cycleroute to Dinant worked well, yes there was the usual climb, but the gradual descent through the woods was wooded and quiet. The clouds dramatically opened in Dinant so everyone dived into a café, before returning the same way back to the chateau and a slide show and final BBQ in the shack.
So that’s it, 29 family holidays and I hang up my wiffle bat, water guns and ping pong bat (well maybe not the latter) Gary will be taking over, so the Netherlands awaits. Chateau trips for adults now, Cognac next year.