The Amblève

As a good city dweller I am, I did not have the presence of mind to think that winter could last longer than in my little region...
Too bad for me, it will teach me for the future.

Indeed, if the snow was only a memory in Mouscron, on the heights of Belgium, it was quite otherwise. I understood my mistake when arriving at the car park :
"Here ... There is more than 10 centimeters of snow here, it's going to be a pleasure (accompanied by a long sigh)".
This is saying little : between slippage more or less controlled, the receptions with light on my ass and my shoes full of water, this expedition was a real pleasure.
Fortunately, the place was deserted and no one could laugh at me. I console myself as I can...
Some places are simply not accessible this season without good walking equipment. If it isn't the snow that stops an already painful progression through the woods, it's - at the very least - 10 centimeters of sticky mud.

So be it.
The Amblève is a small river with its source in the region of Eupen-Malmedy and flows into the Ourthe at Comblain-au-Pont. It is joined by several tributaries including Ninglinspo.
This 3-kilometer torrent meanders as far as it can through enormous blocks of quartzite, forming here and there falls or tubs with evocative names like the Boiler or the Bath of Diana. A must see. Note that the Ninglinspo crossings are ford, so be careful.
Another curiosity of the Amblève, the Fonds de Quareux. This is also quartzite blocks that have rolled into the course of the river as a result of erosion. They are more than 400 million years old.
But talking about the Amblève without mentioning Coo is a challenge. The highest waterfall of the country, it is a major tourist site. At its side, there is a theme park formerly known as TéléCoo (roller coaster, summer toboggan, chairlift, and other amusements for young and old).

The only real disappointment of the day is to see the pressure of real estate increasingly strong. There are countless camping-caravans along the river, the second residences on the hillsides and tourist-catchers ever more numerous. If the local authorities don't try to regulate all this, this valley will lose its authenticity forever. But that's another story...

The Amblève

The Amblève in February : difficult to tame...

The Amblève

A tributary of Ninglinspo : it descends from the Ardennes plateau in a chaotic manner.

The Amblève

Clear water between rocks and tree roots.

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The valley of Ninglinspo. Many legends are born here.

The Amblève

The valley of Ninglinspo. Many legends are born here.

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The site in its entirety is protected. We can imagine that without this, we would have a beautiful concrete road dotted with cafés...

The Amblève

Impenetrable Ardennes forest.

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View on the "Boiler". After the fall, the water dug a deep basin. The rocks are extremely slippery.

The Amblève

This geological curiosity is unique in its kind. It seems that the basement contains gold...

The Amblève

... that would have caused a gold rush in the 19th century. Without great results however.

The Amblève

Second crossing and second fall. The path on the left being inaccessible, I fell for nothing.

The Amblève

One of the fords of Ninglinspo. It does not appear, but the current is strong and the depth is deceptive. Flooding of the shoes guaranteed !

The Amblève

The muddy section. After three meters, I gave up.

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Very close to the Bath of Diana. That I will not see... Too dangerous to continue alone in these conditions.

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Near the Fonds de Quareux, a spontaneous source appears in the middle of the road. The asphalt was lifted by the force of the water.

The Amblève

The Fonds de Quareux downstream. These blocks of rock have descended the flanks of the valley to come here forever.

The Amblève

Fonds de Quareux.

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A stream passing under the embankment of the railway.

The Amblève

Here too, the water seems to be of great purity.

The Amblève

Stream that flows into the Amblève, which will in turn fall into the Ourthe, then the Meuse and finally the North Sea.

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The southern slope of the Amblève valley.

The Amblève

The embanked slope of the Rivage-Gouvy railway line.

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View from Stoumont-La Gleize. Theater of the Battle of the Bulge (or Offensive von Rundstedt).

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Arrival in Coo. This is Lancre Mountain, where the chairlift terminus is located.

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The old meander of the Amblève transformed into a lower reservoir of the hydroelectric power station of Coo. At night, water is pumped from this reservoir to another, located higher.

The Amblève

During the day, this water comes down again and drives the turbines that produce electricity. Here, at the top of the dam retaining lake.

The Amblève

Perfect symmetry.

The Amblève

At the foot of the dike, in the old bed of the river.

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The bridge over the waterfalls. After these two arches, 15 meters of free fall.

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At the same place, but in the direction of Trois-Ponts.

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A bridge on the dead arm of the river.

The Amblève

The small waterfall appeared in the 15th century. In the 18th century, the monks of Stavelot Abbey dug the great waterfall, cutting a meander of the river, to protect the village of Petit-Coo.

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The Church of St. Andrew of Coo. It dates from 1728 but was ravaged by arson in 2008.

The Amblève

Obviously built with the traditional materials of the region.

The Amblève

The small waterfall from the entrance of the amusement park.

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The waterfall as a whole. The tower on the bridge gives access to the terraces between the falls.

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The bridge accessing the amusement park. After the fall, the Amblève quietly continues its route to the bottom of its valley...

21

February 2010

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