We couldn’t leave Bastogne without visiting the War memorial, so first thing we backtracked across the town. A school scavenger hunt was in progress and we had to negotiate the large groups of people and particularly small children which blocked the cycle way. We circled the memorial on the bikes and stopped briefly to see the shrine which is located beneath it before hitting the road.
We followed the RV6 north out of Bastogne. Initially the route was on dedicated cycleways but as Bastogne receded behind the RV6 took us onto main roads and eventually we came to a turn which led onto what appeared to be a fairly major highway. We stopped, questioned the safety and rechecked the route. There wasn’t another way and it only seemed to be for a few kilometers on the map. We ventured onto the verge of the highway, the traffic passing was fast but giving us plenty of room before getting back to the secondary roads headed north west on the RV6 with the final destination of Rochefort in mind. The roads were heavy and we encountered hill after hill. The hills added up to our biggest day of climbing for the trip 837 m.
As we approached Hargimont we entered a region of Belgium of some significance to our family. My grandfather’s Halifax bomber was shot down around the time of the Battle of the Bulge (Jan 1945) somewhere between Hargimont and Harsin. He managed to parachute out of the damaged plane uninjured but as the only survivor of his crew. He was captured shortly after, having found himself behind the German lines, and spent the rest of the war as a POW. The remains of the other crew are now buried at the Hotton Commonwealth War Cemetery, which is about 9 km out of Marche-en-Famenne. I visited the site some years ago and my brother and parents have also visited previously. Although the cycling route I had planned was taking us close to Marche-en-Famenne I had not intended to visit again. As we got closer, not taking the opportunity to visit again, and with my family, didn’t feel right. We adjusted our plans and decided to head towards a campground in Marche-en-Fammene, from where we could make for Hotton the next day and then double back to the planned route.
We hit the main road between Rochefort and Marché-en-Famenne where traffic was quite dense before finding a nice cycle way parallel to the road. We negotiated the back roads of Marche-en-Famenne and the final, brutal, climb up to the campsite which required us to dismount and push.
With the camping season in its death throws, we camped alone, setting up as it started to spit with rain. Most of the facilities were closed already and we were given a key to the disabled toilet/shower for our use. Having battled the heavy roads and climbs all day, we took the easy route and had a grilled cheese sandwich and beer at the little cafe/restaurant.
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).