Thu 15th Sep 2011
Start: Maubeuge, France
End: Houyet, Belgium
Distance today: 100k
Distance so far: 460k
The sort of day I had in mind for this section of the route when planning the trip. The roads were largely quiet and well surfaced, the sun shone and pleasant green scenery evolved around me. I'm in the Ardennes where agricultural land has been superseded by forest, and the terrain is rolling rather than flat.
The only issue of the day was some navigational difficulty. At one point I managed to do a complete triangle with two kilometre sides having mis-understood an instruction from a local. Forget what I said yesterday, I should spend less time talking to locals and more looking at my gps. I stopped for lunch in Walcourt, a very attractive town dominated by a huge church on a hill overlooking a cobbled square. Yet somehow despite its prominence it took me about ten minutes of wrong turns to get to the square, and there's only really two streets in the town.
I'm staying in Houyet at a campsite with a great location in all but one respect. It's bounded on one side by a slow moving river which you're able to camp right next to. Ducks play and large fish can be seen swimming in the clear water. This is overlooked by lush green forest on the hillside above. On the other side of the site runs a train line, along which immeasurably long freight trains hammer past, shattering the idyllic calm with their metallic roar. Mercifully this doesn't happen too often.
Partly because of the navigational issues, partly because distances are always turning out further than expected, my progress during the day is slower than hoped. The situation isn't helped by my normal inertia in getting out of bed, and my inefficiency at decamping having done so. I'll need improvements somewhere tomorrow or I won't complete what could be quite an ambitious journey to Vianden in Luxembourg.