The morning was quite cold and dewy. We had come to expect mild mornings and warm/hot days but Autumn had recovered from its false start.
We left the domain and took back roads up the hill towards the L6. Emilie drew the short straw and was saddled with the trailer for the start of the day. It certainly wakes up the legs to start a ride with a few kilometers of hill, with pinches up to 12% towing the trailer. As we made our way back to the trail we passed a crew of builders on a house, who gave us the obligatory “allez allez allez” and made several comments about how Emilie was towing whilst I cruised along behind.
After about 14 km we stopped briefly at Fort de Battice. The fort was part of a network of Belgian defenses, built in the 1930’s and held out for 12 days against the German invasion of 1940. This was again one of those unexpected places that would have been great to explore with unlimited time but with places to be and small people to keep entertained we moved on quickly.
After Clermont we left the Ligne 38 and continued off the closed trail on the RV4, on back roads through the rolling hills, farmland and little Belgian villages. This is also where Emilie’s love of photographing cows first became apparent.
Just before reaching the Vennbahn route, we stopped at the little town of Raeren for lunch, just below the church. By reaching Raeren, we had almost completed a full loop from Aachen, with the town lying about 15 km south of the city.
The Vennbahn cycle route is a disused rail line, like so many cycleways. From start to end it is 125 km long, winding along the border between Belgium and Germany into Luxembourg: from Aachen to Troisvierges. Although interestingly the actual Vennbahn cycle route is entirely on Belgian territory even when surrounded by Germany. A remnant of the changing borders and difficult history of this part of the world. It is billed as being paved from beginning to end and having a leisurely 2% maximum gradient but we discovered that wasn’t entirely true over the next few days. The beginning section though is a perfectly smooth paved surface which winds though beautiful forest, occasionally crossing a road or skirting a little village.
Even though the weather remained fantastic, the European camping season is remarkably fixed and was coming to an end. We again had to search the maps for an open campsite, finding one which fortunately wasn’t too far from the route near Monschau. The last section of the day seemed to drag a bit and we were very happy to have chosen Camping Zum Jone-Bur. The owner was very welcoming and the facilities were very good. We enjoyed a cold glass of Kölsch while we set up.
To see the route, elevation profile, etc., click the link to Ride with GPS below (it should be able to be embedded but WordPress does not allow this).