A CHALLENGE FOR ENTHUSIASTS

“Trudging in the forest, pacing up and down the paths and the game tracks, on all fours in the moss or bare legs across the water, wandering along the valleys, tumbling down sharp slopes, discovering the natural treasures through the seasons, this is what trail is all about !”

The Challenge Haute-Ardenne de Trail embodies this philosophy in the surroundings of a typical region of the High Plateaus of Ardenne.

The basins of the rivers Ourthe, Lienne, Salm, Aisne and their tributaries draw the curves of this region. And aren’t trailers keen on curves ?
 

THE HAUTE ARDENNE REGION


Even before Man left his mark on the landscape, Nature shaped it by digging the deep valleys of the rivers Ourthe or Salm, creating rocky outcrops and helping a certain type of natural vegetation emerge. The Ardenne does not only consist of forest, deep valleys and high plateaus but also protected pastures that offer a contrast with the usual clichés.

This region is part of the Rhine schistose massif and is distinguished by high plateaus where altitudes often go over 500m (Plateau des Taille et Baraque de Fraiture 652m).

During geological times, rivers having theirs sources in this plateau often dug deep valleys. The bottom of these valleys only reaches 260m in Laroche and 360m in Vielsam. By penetrating the schist, these rivers have sculpted the region in a wild way, creating sumptuous meanders.
 

THE CHALLENGE DE LA HAUTE ARDENNE DE TRAIL

What better way to discover thiskom wonderful region than on the routes imagined by true natives in love with their land and whose wish is to show it off ?

If you take part if one of the Challenge’s events, you can rest assured that you will run on the region’s best tracks, admire memorable sceneries, meet great people and taste local products.

All the different runs of the Challenge offer the participants an overview of the region’s multiple facets.

Trailers will for instance have the chance to climb the impressive Hérou’s rock during the trail in Nadrin. This rocky block used to be called “Li Cresse di laid saut”. It is said that a herald used to proclaim the sentences given by the High Court of Nadrin from the top of this rock. The view is breathtaking and the site has been classified “Patrimoine Majeur (major heritage) de Wallonie”

This imposing outcrop offers a humid environment that is ideal for the only population of “Trichomanes speciosum” (type of fern) known in Wallonia. You can also find the wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), the slow worm (Anguis fragilis), the common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) and the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca). Below, the river Ourthe offers some of its most delightful meanders, kingdom of the brown trout (Salmo trutta) and the grayling (Thymallus thymallus). Along the river banks you can also catch sight of the kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) or the white-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus). This year, the Hérou trail will have the privilege of crowning the Belgian Trail champion on 36K and 80K distances.

From Laroche-en-Ardenne, the “Boucles Ardennaises” will take you to another wonderful viewpoint, not far from the Hérou: “Les Crestelles” gives a great panorama of the village of Maboge and of the majestic meanders of the river Ourthe. This site is also a take-off area for gliders and paragliders.

During the Trail d’Oster, you will discover the tortured features of the Aisne valley and its numerous mills. Hydraulic energy is indeed one of the first sources of energy used by men. Before the emergence of coal and oil, watermills were the ideal tool to grind the grain, press oily grains, saw wood etc.

Mills will also feature in the Trail des vieux moulins (old mills trail) in Lierneux. During this event, you will flirt with the alpine ski slopes of the Monty and Baraque de Fraiture. This trail and its neighbours, the Trail des traces in Odrimont and the Wergi’Trail in Goronne, will delight wild nature lovers. These valleys, which are typical of the Ardenne region, will be the main theme of these 3 events. Country of witches, land of legends, the valleys of the rivers Lienne and Salm will catch a spell on you. You will hit the schist, the coticule (a razor hone of worldwide reputation), the arkose. You will fight Bonalfa and the Bec du Corbeau (raven’s beak). And you will also taste wild berries from Gustine Maka’s tchenna (basket)! But…mind the evil spells!!! If you’re lucky, you will witness the take-off of the black stork or see the kingfisher fly by, you will surprise some cervidae (deer, doe or stag) or hear the alarm calls of the jay, the black woodpecker, the buzzard or the red kite.

The last two destinations of the Challenge will take you to the discovery of the Eastern Ourthe.

From the deep and wooded valleys to the farming plains, the Parc Naturel des Deux Ourthes offers various landscapes with very different characteristics. The Escapardenne Trail in Houffalize will show you its multiple facets. This country’s landscape is appreciated by mountain bikers because of its demanding technical tracks and steep slopes. The ideal ground for Trails !

And to open the 2017 season of the CHAT, a brand-new route has been planned. Indeed, after 7 editions of the “Trail et Rando de la Cedrogne” in Montleban, the THArés team from Gouvy will offer a brand-new organization: new dates, new host village, new routes. The THArée Trail in Rettigny (near Gouvy) will present the runners with a unique opportunity to discover the high valley of the Eastern Ourthe. They will be climbing rocks, crossing streams, hitting the moss and last but not least, discovering the least known part of the region. You will discover exceptional sites where the beaver has reclaimed its home, you will come across old forges, tanneries and mills, the ruins of an old castle and many other parts where nature has kept its rights. In some of the visited sites, studies have revealed the presence of a special type of lichens (Usnea), which shows that the air quality is excellent… Ideal for intense efforts!
 

LOCAL FLAVOURS

The CHAT routes have been designed by native trailers who know the region inside out. After your run, they invite you to taste products made in the Ardennes.

The AFTER is the perfect place to meet people, to chat and laugh over a good beer from one of our many breweries, such as the LUPULUS, the LIENNE, the BIERE d’OSTER and the youngest (born in 2016), the THArée. The latter was created by 3 friends who are mad about trails and beers. It is flavoured with fir tree extracts and was named after the Trailers of the Haute Ardennes (THArés). (note of the translator: taré means crazy in French). The purpose was to create a product which strongly suited our beautiful region, a product in which the locals could recognize their roots and which they would be proud to share. The beer is made locally: the creators themselves went in the woods around Gouvy to hand pick the fir tree shoots which give the beer its subtle flavour.
 

THE TRAIL SPIRIT

The trail spirit means respecting the natural environment around us, without deteriorating or polluting it. It means helping anyone in physical or material difficulties. It means sharing, being together… This is what seems to attract so many people.

We must admit that trails are becoming more and more competitive because runners train better and better and focus their season on a few events which are therefore long awaited. Some organizations take advantage of this craze and make runners pay more than 1 euro per kilometre to register. The CHAT aims to honour the trail spirit and keep democratic fees. This year, the THArée Trail in Rettigny even introduces a conscious contribution. It means that runners consciously pay at least 1 euro for all that they are about to experience.

The Challenge consists of 8 events which all have in common this spirit of sharing without overspending.