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près de Solwaster, Wallonia (Belgique)
Excellent hike along the rivers Hoëgne, Polleur and Statte, across moors, and through woods, from Solwaster to Baraque Michel and back. You need waterproof shoes. At one point, you need to cross the Hoëgne without a bridge (see waypoint ‘Hoëgne crossing’ for more information). You will find something to eat and drink on Baraque Michel, in Solwaster, and near the waypoint marked ‘ford’. The day I did this hike, it was grey with snow above 500 m altitude.
The hike starts at a parking along the road to Solwaster, close to exit 9 of the E42 motorway. You first follow the Hoëgne downstream for a bit more than 1 km, crossing the stream on some narrow and not so reliable looking bridges a few times. Where the Statte flows into the Hoëgne, you cross the river and walk towards Solwaster on asphalt roads through pasture. From Solwaster you walk on to the edge of the forest, where you enter the Route de la Statte, a trail along the river. This track follows the river, sometimes crossing it. After a bit less than 1 km, there is a rocky outcrop (Rocher de Bilisse), which you climb for the (limited) view. After the climb you return to the Statte and follow it upstream. You pass by the Cascade de Nutons. A bit further you cross a forest road, and continue on the track which is narrow and becomes muddier as you leave the forest and enter the moors. When you arrive to another forest road, you follow it uphill until you get to a monument dedicated to American pilots, on the edge of the Grande Fagne. From here you follow a narrow and sometimes very wet track along the moor until you get to an elevated gravel track which takes you through the moor to Baraque Michel. You will find some border stones of the former Prussia-Belgian border along this path. From Baraque Michel you walk to the Fagne de Polleur, which you cross on another elevated gravel track. A smaller path takes you up through the spruce forest along the Polleur river with good views across the moor. At the end of the path you cross the Polleur and take a (wet) path along the river, cross it once more and follow a broader track along the river, until you get to another small and muddy track along the river which turns into the Hoëgne after merging with the Herbofaye stream. A bit further you come to the place where you have to cross the Hoëgne. There was a makeshift bridge made of some trunks during my trip (see the waypoint for more information). After the Hoëgne crossing you get to a broad forest road which you follow all the way to a large bridge across the Hoëgne near Hockai. Here, the popular Sentier de la Hoëgne starts, a track along the river in the wooded valley, with various bridges and waterfalls. You more or less follow this track all the way back to the starting point.
Solwaster-Baraque Michel 2h30
Baraque Michel-Sentier de la Hoëgne 2h15
Sentier de la Hoëgne 1h20
Popular destination. Also a good alternative starting point of the walk. There is a large parking lot here, a tavern, and a bus stop. It can be quite busy.
Bridge on the Hoëgne river
Wooden bridge across the Polleur river
The Ruisseau des Plénisses cascades into the Hoëgne river here
The Nutons stream cascades into the Statte river
Waterfall in the Hoëgne near a picknick spot
Waterfall in the Hoëgne river
You arrive to the Fagne de Polleur (Polleur moor) here. The source of the Polleur river (further downstream Hoëgne river) is here. To the left is Mont Rigi with another tavern
The Hoëgne river flows across the road to the parking lot. There is a restaurant and a bar here.
You arrive to this paved forest road, leave the track and walk further uphill towards the Grande Fagne.
On this unpaved forest road you walk down to the Hoëgne bridge near Hockai
Here you have to cross the Hoëgne river. On the map it was indicated as a ford. There was a makeshift bridge made of tree trunks here that helped me cross the stream without getting wet feet. In case you arrive here without the makeshift bridge being present and no good wading points, you might decide to avoid the crossing and walk to the next bridge. This involves walking 1 km south-southeast perpendicular to the Hoëgne, then turning right parallel to the Hoëgne and walk for about 1.3 km, and then turning right again and walk back to the Hoëgne for 1.1 km. This detour adds 1.7 km to the hike. I did not walk this detour myself but consulted a map.
Monument dedicated to American pilots.
Trail along the Hoëgne with several river crossings on small bridges (see photos; might not be suited for everybody).
Path taking you up onto the hillside next to the Polleur river covered with spruces, with good views of the moor.
At the end of the asphalt road a trail with bridges takes you along the Statte river
Bridge of a forest road across the Polleur. There is a small hut here.
A nice rock formation which you can climb for a view.
Here the popular trail along the Hoëgne starts, with lots of bridges and waterfalls. See also http://www.excursion.be/promenades/promenade-feerique-dans-la-vallee-de-la-hoegne/
Village. There is a restaurant near the church. The village is surrounded by pasture.
Narrow and muddy track along the Hoëgne
A somewhat elevated path wind sand and gravel takes you through the moors to Baraque Michel. Along the path you will find border stones between former Prussia and Belgium
From here you follow a narrow trail along the moors (there used to be woods on the other side, but they have been partly cut). The trail is sometimes very wet, and difficult to follow. After about 1 km you could go straight on and turn left to avoid the wettest part of this track.
Trail along the Statte. This part of the trail is much wetter and muddier than the first part. Probably due to getting out of the valley and onto the moor.