Buetgenbach Luftaufnahmen 04(c)eastbelgium

Nature & the landscape

The raised peatland of the High Fens is centrally located at the interface between the Eifel and the Ardennes. This is where numerous sources rise, which ensure the abundance of water and have left a lasting impression on the landscape. East Belgium boasts a myriad of diverse landscapes in an area some one hundred kilometres long and thirty kilometres wide.

Landscapes in East Belgium

The lakes of Eupen, La Gileppe and Bütgenbach are among the five largest inland waterways of the region. East Belgium boasts a large number of additional landscapes with diverse features over a length of some one hundred kilometres and a width of thirty kilometres. With its ponds, moors and slender birchwoods, the High Fens is a conservation area that is one of its kind in Europe, covering an impressively large area of 4,500 square kilometres.

Further south, the landscape changes once again. The Ardennes region is the area with the most forest in Belgium. Near St. Vith, the Ardennes merge with the ridges of the low mountain ranges of the Eifel, which roll on as far as the eye can see. Secluded valleys such as that of the Our draw visitors into the surrounding regions with their rural character. The abundance of nature and cultural landscapes in East Belgium holds many surprises: The next unspoiled stretch of land and thus the next miracle of nature is sure to come along soon.

 


Hedgerow and meadow landscape

 

The hedgerow villages in East Belgium include, in particular, Sourbrodt, Ovifat, Robertville, Outrewarche, Weywertz, Elsenborn and Nidrum. The hedges protecting the houses here are kept shorter than those of the German neighbours. Hawthorn hedges are much more widespread on the Belgian side. Since the grazing cows are not fond of their taste, they do not see them as an addition to their regular feed.

Hedges did not develop until the 19th century, at the same time as the advance of pastureland and dairy farming (delineation of land parcels). This development was very progressive and only reached some parts of the communities in the Eifel-Ardennes region – the cultural landscape continued to play an important role there. This means that the hedges bear witness to a special utilisation of the rural area. Hedges provided the animals with shelter from the wind, the sun and sometimes the rain as well. They are home to numerous birds. They also blend into the landscape better than barbed wire. Since the introduction of barbed wire and modern agriculture, these hedges have tended to disappear.

When they do so, witnesses of our past and habitats with biological value vanish too. There are different kinds of hedge: protective hedges around houses, consisting mainly of a row of beech or hornbeam; deep hedges in which tall trees are left standing, and deep hedges which are cropped each year. Owing to the fact that these hedges are in danger of disappearing in many places, the Walloon region has offered a bonus to sponsor their maintenance by the farmers. Thanks to this financial assistance, 856 km of hedges are protected in the Belgian Eifel-Ardennes region.

 


Lakes

There are numerous watercourses in the Eifel-Ardennes region. Some of them are dammed up for the purpose of obtaining electricity or drinking water. Construction work on Bütgenbach reservoir was completed in 1932. The water from the Warche and Holzwarche flows through it and it has a holding capacity of 12,000,000 m³. Although it also has a small waterworks, it was mainly built as a reservoir for the generation of electricity in Robertville reservoir, located a little further down. Today, Bütgenbach Lake, together with the sports and leisure centre “Sport- und Freizeitzentrum Worriken” is one of the main tourist attractions of the region. There are also further reservoirs in Eupen (Weser) and near Jalhay (Gileppe).

 

Robertville Lake

The idyllic village of Robertville lies at the foot of the High Fens, a green oasis surrounded by untouched nature. Not only the dreamy lake but also the surrounding countryside with deep valleys, the mediaeval castle of Reinhardstein and the magnificent forests are worth a visit.

Set in picturesque, natural surroundings, Robertville Lake provides a pleasant atmosphere for relaxation. The extraordinary purity of the water is confirmed by official agencies. The outdoor swimming pool with its grassy area for sunbathing entices guests to take a refreshing dip on warm summer days. The sandy beach delights the younger guests in particular.

No risk of getting bored at Robertville Lake. Fishing, pedal boats, electric-powered boats, rowing or swimming, the whole family will find fun activities and rest and relaxation here.

 

Bütgenbach Lake

If you prefer activity holidays and holidays for those seeking relaxation in equal measure, with an extraordinary range of leisure facilities, Bütgenbach will delight you. Bütgenbach reservoir (over 120 hectares or 300 acres) is the region’s Mecca for water sports enthusiasts. The sports and leisure centre “Worriken” has been welcoming guests from near and far for 25 years. The wide range of infrastructure and the location at the foot of the High Fens plateau make the entire complex an ideal holiday resort, which offers optimal conditions for water and adventure sports. Furthermore, there are two restaurants on site, 48 holiday chalets, accommodation for groups, and a campsite.    

For water sports fans, the centre offers activities including sailing, surfing, swimming (in the lake or indoor pool), canoeing, kayaking, pedal-powered, floating water bikes, paddle boats and much, much more. The new infrastructure “Fentastic Beach” comprises, among other things, a new, 150-metre-long sandy beach covering an area of 8,000 m², which is located completely on the sunny side and equipped with a host of recreational facilities: a bay for the little ones, a 7 m trampoline, an artificial iceberg 5 metres in height for climbing tours, sand pitches for beach volleyball, football and handball.

However, those interested in adventure sports will also find what they are looking for: climbing wall, high rope course, ziplining, mountainbiking, archery, numerous ball sports, tennis, squash, badminton, swingolf, trampolining … . A signposted hiking trail of 11 km runs around the lake too.

 

Weser dam

A gigantic wall of concrete rises up just a few kilometres from Eupen town centre: the Weser dam. The reservoir created by the dam at the confluence of the Weser and Getzbach supplies drinking water to Eupen, the Herve region, the environs of Liège and the Sart Tilman domain. The Weser dam also boasts some recreational facilities such as an educational water and forest trail and the highest climbing wall in the EUREGIO!

The Visitors’ Centre is an ideal destination for excursions, both for families with children and adventure seekers and for those who simply wish to unwind. Cyclists and hikers exploring the network of cycle and hiking paths around the reservoir are also very welcome. The terrace with its view of the lake is the perfect spot to enjoy sunny summer days. A large playground for young visitors is also available.

 


The valleys

From time immemorial until today, the landscape in East Belgium has been formed by various forces of nature, such as the movements of the Earth’s crust, wind or water. One example: the mountain ridge of the Ardennes was created by the folding of the Earth’s crust, and subsequent erosion resulted in today’s Fens plateau. Deposits of marine sediments also bear witness to the fact that sea covered the region 80 million years ago. 

Water plays a key role in the formation of the landscape and the valleys. Numerous sources and small stream courses are to be found in East Belgium, which then flow together to form larger rivers. The Belgian Eifel-Ardennes region is situated on two river basins: the sources in the west flow into the Meuse, the ones in the east into the Rhine. The boundary between these two basins is referred to as a watershed.

 


The Our valley

Without a doubt, East Belgium holds one of its most important trump cards in terms of tourism with the beautiful valley of the Our as well as the inflow of the Sauer, Moselle and finally the Rhine. The villages of Manderfeld, Schönberg, Lommersweiler and Burg-Reuland, surrounded by numerous sleepy hamlets, literally invite both nature and culture enthusiasts to come and stay.

 

The country around Malmedy

The so-called Malmedyer Wallonia, i.e. the French-speaking communities of Malmedy and Weismes, and the High Fens, have always played a leading role in terms of tourism in East Belgium. The nature reserve of the High Fens has aroused international interest as the last high moors in Europe, and this has rubbed off on the two communities located in the south of the region. In addition to the natural charms of this area, emphasis should also be placed on the culinary delights this region has to offer at the interface between Latin and Germanic culture. 

 

St. Vither Land and Oberes Ameltal (The Upper Amel Valley)

"St. Vither Land and Oberes Ameltal" are, without a doubt, regarded as the “beating heart” of the Belgian Eifel-Ardennes region. St. Vith as a commercial centre and the municipality of Amel as one of the oldest settlements have very different charms and attractions to offer. It is here, as the antithesis to mass tourism, that untouched countryside and a hearty welcome by the population known for its hospitality await the guests.

 

The country around Eupen – the Weser and Göhl valleys

All around, the area is known as the land of castles and manor houses and boasts distinctive scenic charms at the point where the Herver Land comes to an end. Eupen, the secret capital of East Belgium with a rich history of clothmaking, and Raeren, with its internationally renowned pottery museum, are regarded as outstanding centres of attraction in the land of the three borders (Germany-Netherlands-Belgium).

 


Tour guide "East Belgian Tours"

In its catalogue “East Belgium Tours”, the Tourist Agency of East Belgium invites guests to join three tours, each of which is well worth a visit. The publication is available free of charge and provides information on three signposted thematic tours through the region around Eupen, the High Fens and the Eifel-Ardennes region.


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