Lac de la GileppeNovember 11, 2017 in Belgium
From Dutch speaking Belgium, we passed into the low wooded hills of the Ardennes and French speaking Belgium. Frituures changed to Friteries and boulangeries became more frequent.
It was bad timing that Flanders, the area we were moving away from, was celebrating Martinmass, where children would be processing through the streets with paper lanterns or carved beetroots with lights inside, singing "Sinntemette" songs, sometimes with a man dressed as St Martin riding ahead of them on a horse. Friends and family would be passing on toys from St Martin and a special meal, sometimes of goose, would be eaten.
We are beginning to get a bit confused with all these different celebrations! Another thing that we were losing track of was what language to speak, as we had decided to pop into Germany to return our deposit bottles and buy some crates of alcohol free beer for the trip back to the UK.
If it wasn't for the border sign, we would have known we were in Germany by the recycling bins (good) and billboards advertising cigarettes (bad). We soon pulled up at a Getrankenhaus which supplied us with a couple of crates from their excellent range of beers.
Back in Belgium we pulled off the highway on to a dead end road that lead to Lac de la Gileppe and its stopover with free electricity. There aren't that many lakes in this country, so this one (really a reservoir) was a big focus for the area. It was a beautiful setting, in a valley thick with autumnal woodland. Darkness closed in quickly after we arrived but the next day we explored. A covered viewpoint allowed us to look down on the reservoir and the dam-top boulevard from high on the valley slope. It was beautiful to see the tree canopy of orange, gold, yellow and brown spread out so far, broken only by the glassy surface of the lake and the small river trickling out of its base, cutting a course through the hills.
A 5km trail took us along the top of the dam, past the huge stone lion, down through the woods, with beech leaves that almost glowed golden before falling to create a copper carpet. Crossing the river we climbed the 106 steps back to the visitor centre and spent a little time looking at the backlit displays and watching a short documentary about how the dam was built to ensure a clean supply of water all year round for the wool industry.
Next, a glass sided elevator took us 77m up to the panorama restaurant at the top of the tower and afforded brilliant views over the lake and forest. We spent a little time looking at a photographic display of the local area but the restaurant looked a bit too posh for a quick drink and snack so we decided to visit the down to earth café at the bottom of the tower. The sky had been getting progressively darker as a bank of cloud closed quickly in on the tower. As we were waiting for the elevator they reached us and the panoramic windows were engulfed by a blizzard of snow! It lasted only a few minutes but it was impressive!
By the time we were at ground level it had cleared up and we watched a group of Scouts using leaves, mud and twigs to build temporary dams against the surface run off. We were happy to be warm inside, with Vicky eating 'Crepe Gileppe' and us both drinking '77' beer; a 7.7% craft ale brewed specially for visitors of the 77m high lake tower and served in its own individually designed glass.Read more