What Goes Down Must Come Up
Total distance 72.4km
See below for elevation profile, map, and GPX files.
What goes down must come up: the unfortunate law of bike touring with a heavy trailer. After a beautiful descent into our campground the night before we woke up and set off for a day of what felt like constant climbing. We wound through dense Walloon pine forests that gave us the feeling we were high in the mountains. Or was it our tired legs that gave us that feeling? Either way it was quite beautiful.
Our next destination on the Trappist tour was Rochefort. Unlike Orval, the Rochefort Abbey isn’t much of a destination. True to Trappist tradition the monks keep cloistered and the monastery is closed to visitors. It is located about 3 km outside of town amidst the forest and pastures. When we arrived in Rochefort we rode straight through town and onto the monastery. There are two roads that lead from town to the Abbey, one a steep but beautiful dirt road and the other with more traffic and less scenery but gentler on the tired legs. Knowing that we’d be doing a loop we unhooked the trailer and left it locked to a fence on a residential street and headed up the dirt road.
We approached the monastery from the back and just as we started to see manicured grounds through the hedges we were greeted by the sounds of the carillon playing through the Belgian mist. We rode around the front and watched their graceful swinging and listened to their song. The instrument was just three bells playing seemingly at random but they would also sync up and producing interesting patterns. Check out the mp3.
After the abbey we were ready for our tasting. We headed back into town via the paved road and picked out a cute pub on the main street to taste our Trappist brews. I think it’s safe to say that every pub in town serves them so if you are in the area just pick one you like. Rochefort is a very cute and touristy town, it seemed packed with families who had come to visit the nearby caves that the area is famous for.
Sitting and enjoying our beers we made a plan for the evening which included another 20km to a campground. Starting right in Rochefort is one of Wallonia’s RaVel routes (national bike paths). The path leaves from the end of Rue de Forest and follows an old rail line to Houyet and beyond. The path was a welcome break from the hilly roads we had been riding and it felt good to cruise in the flats for a while. It was mostly paved with a short dirt/mud section in the middle.
Shortly after the mud we got our second flat tire of the trip. It was on our left trailer tire and appeared to have come from some nasty berry thorns. Taking a pit stop to patch it up we were soon on our way to our conveniently located campground right on the bike path. The campground was also on a nice river and had 10 minutes of free wifi. Camping cost €12 for the two of us plus one euro per shower. It was a little crappy to pay for showers but it was still the cheapest campground we had stayed in yet. It also had laundry facilities, a bar and restaurant.
We set up the tent and it immediately started to rain. Sticking our hands out through the rainfly to cook our can of chili we reflected on how it never rains in August at home, but then again we cant see a trappist brewery there either.
View Mortehan to Houyet in a larger map