PoupehanNovember 17, 2017 in Belgium
The cold, often wet weather and limited daylight hours mean we are not cycling, canoeing or walking as much as we would otherwise. However, we are really enjoying the beautiful scenery in the Belgian Ardennes. The season shows the deciduous woodlands off beautifully and the winding river valleys are a real treat for the eyes.
It was in Poupehan, a village in one of these valleys that we stayed the night. There was a free stopover with facilities on the flood plain, along from a football pitch and clubhouse. Grass grew all around the hardstanding we were parked on and swathes of waxy yellow, orange and brown Plane leaves covered both. If the river hadn't been in flood we would have made use of the nearby launch ramp, but the water looked a bit too fast to be anything but a struggle, so we decided to go for a walk instead. An information board showed several trails in the vicinity, of which we chose the shortest and easiest. The 5km route took us up through the quiet, grey village, past an empty pub and restaurant then right at a small church. We climbed a steep muddy forestry track into the woods. It was very well signed and several benches were conveniently positioned for you to rest and take in a view. After an hour or so we emerged at a viewpoint affording us a far reaching vista over the wooded river valley. The area was actively forested and the canopy of autumnal indigenous trees was interspersed with green blocks of pines. Making our way home, dusk began to close in, but we felt happy knowing we'd made good use of what daylight there was.
It had been such a nice stopover, we felt we should make an effort to spend some money in the village. Friday was our day to have lunch out, so we went to see if the Taverne la Vallee pub served food. Stepping in to the small bar area there was a smell of stale smoke, despite the No Smoking sign on the door. There were no ashtrays and nobody with a cigarette so we had a look at the little menu out on a table. It listed a range of sandwiches, fries and simple dishes, but after a few minutes the greasy haired barman told us they didn't have any food. Ok, maybe it was for the best we just had a drink then went back to the van for lunch...
After an in depth search of the fridge the barman brought out a bottle of the Trappist beer Vicky had chosen, but couldn't find the ale Will wanted. Never mind, there were still plenty to choose from. We sat at a table for two by the window, whose panes had small lumps of mould growing on them. Our drinks were brought on a tray along with their dedicated glasses and a small bowl of stale nuts. Vicky's eagle eyes soon spotted some brown specks in her glass which she tried, but failed to rub away or scrape off with her nail. When picking up her beer, she found the label had mildew on it. The Tavern la Vallee certainly wouldn't have passed any health and safety checks but we weren't in the mood for complaining and the beer itself was delicious. At over 8% it quickly lifted our moods and helped us view the fact that the brown specs were still on Vicky's glass when it was drained, as being a good thing! 😂Read more