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near Hockai, Wallonia (Belgique)
The trails of the Valley of the hoegne stream, between Hockai and the Belleheid Bridge, are under the patronage of the Belgian King Albert II, and the valley is rated among the most beautiful of Belgium. We haven't hiked all valleys in Belgium, but we tend to agree. It is an absolute highlight.
Almost as beautiful is the valley of the Statte, a little more quiet but equally romantic.
The hiking times are difficult to state, mainly on the grounds of the many photo-stops along the way. Especially along the Hoegne, we met several groups of photographers who were busy capturing the atmosphere with long exposure of the cascades.
This is a moderate hike on small footpaths. The under-footing can be slippery and muddy, and overall speed might be lower than on the usual hiking trails.
We started at the Hotel Beau Site in Hockai, and follow a footpath above the old railway line. We cross the railway line (now a bicycle path) and soon reach the Bridge 'Pont Centenaire across the Hoegne. There is a 'gate' signifying the begin of the actual Hoegne trail that is under the protection of the king.
Always stay close to the stream, sometimes crossing from one bank to the other.
Pay attention at waypoint HG09 (Picnic Place). Don't follow the broad forest road, but stay close to the river instead.
At HG12 is a parking lot, and alternative starting place. Across the bridge and ford are restaurants, though they may only open in summer and weekends. In late October, the bridge was closed for pedestrains (vehicles may cross through the ford), and even if the restaurants were open, you would arrive with wet feet.
Following a steep ascent, you cross some farmland and the outskirts of Solwaster, before entering the forest again. You first come across a seasonal stream, before arriving at the Statte, which we will follow upstream. Shortly after the bridge is a short excursion to the top of the Rocher de Bilisse, a vertical piece of slate. There are no views from the top, but it's good for your ego.
Down in the valley again, follow the Statte for a long while, always straight at several intersections and forks. Eventually you arrive at the typical Venn moorlands. At way point HG21, don't miss the right turn. There is an example of peat harvesting a way point HG22.
At way point HG26, you have the choice of turning left (as we did) to reach the upper Hoegne valley. This part is not as scenic as from where we started, but is easy going. Alternatively, continue straight at way point HG26 and meet our trail again at way point HG28.
At waypoint HG 29 we decided to turn left to sample a few more views of Hockai. Alternatively, you may simple follow the tarmac road back to the hotel.
For the very energetic, we recommend to combine this trail and wikiloc #11696239 (3 Torrents and what felt like 100 bridges) to a grand tour of everything this area has to offer.
For unknown reasons, my GPS recorded all elevations about 300 meter lower than they are. This doesn't matter for the calculations of total elevation gain and loss.