After an early rise, a shower and a breakfast at Castle Vaalsbroek,…
…The Wandelgek picked up his backpack and checked out. Then he left the castle’s gate and turned left and left again in the direction of the small hamlet of Raren.
This was a road ascending towards the hill ridge where the Vaalserberg was part of, but it would join that ridge and the DMT (Dutch Mountain Trail) more west.
But previous it crossed the hamlet of Raren which consisted mainly out of half-timbered houses…
Brief return to the DMT
The road joined the DMT and the trail went west for a few kilometres.
This part of the trail was the shortest and also the least demanding of the whole trail. The Wandelgek knew this area as one of the most beautiful parts of the country, but hadn’t been there for a long while and now he wanted to explore it more extensively. He decided therefore to follow the DMT for a short while and then deviate for a couple of days from the trail to explore in a leisurely manner.
So… no summit in the next couple of days ?, but instead another deviation from the trail, which was probably the most rewarding one of this trail walk?
But 1st things 1st. The DMT was now following the Dutch German border for quite a while, before it would turn north.
This cool statue of a satyr cut out of wood, was somewhere on the trail.
The trail turned north after a while, leaving the vicinity of the dutch/belgian border.The views over the surrounding hills are quite marvellous in this area which is known under its nickname Little Switzerland…
After a while the forest became denser and the trail entered the:
Holsetterbos (Holsetter forest)
The Holsetterbos is actually a sub division of the larger Vijlenerbos (about which I’ll write more in an upcoming blogpost). The forest is named after the tiny village of Holset, which is located in the valley beneath.
On the information sign above, it is stated about the Holsetterbos that it is communal property (because of the felling rights).
I saw these little black glimmer beetles everywhere on my walk on the DMT, often crossing my path…
Un déviation par les vignes et les tonneaux de bière (A deviation past wine estates and beer barrels/Een omweg langs wijngaarden en biertonnen)
After a few kilometers walking along the forest edge and following trails and paths through the forest, enjoying the views across the hills and the valleys bathing in sunlight, I deviated from the DMT for another multiple day deviation into the land around the highest village of The Netherlands: Vijlen.
A while after the trail crossed the Eupenerbaan, it hit another road going south. This was where the detour started. This deviation had a purpose: To stop gaining speed, to stop feeling pressure, to enjoy and completely relax. No goals, no deadlines, no summits, no hurry, no appointments no goals, no destinations. Enjoy good food and good drinks and hopefully the sun would take a part in this too. We dutch have a saying for that:
Leven als een god in Frankrijk
To live like a god in France
And that was exactly what The Wandelgek wanted to do in the upcoming days, starting now at the beginning of this detour.
The Wandelgek had not chosen this road for nothing. Only a few hundred meters further south, was a parkinglot and a sand path going deeper into the forest. It lead to:
Boscafé Het Hijgend Hert (Forestcafé The Panting Deer)
What better place to start a detour then Boscafé Het Hijgend Hert. It is a beautiful dark wooden building, possibly used by foresters or maybe hunters surrounded by forest
The site of the current forest café ‘t Hijgend Hert has a certain history. In 1932 the German Johann Hartmann asks for a permit to build a house here. Due to the lack of drinking water, he also wants to build a well of 40 meters deep.
On August 3, 1933, a liquor license is also applied for and the building is called Waldesruh. Later, an open-air dance floor was added to the cafe. In 1939 Hartmann left for Germany and the padn came into the hands of the Russel family from Vaals. In 1939 the Jehea-Meessen family rented the property. After the war it was renamed Bosrust. The Jehae-Meessen family remained in the building until 1966. Between 1967 and 1973, Wilhelm Bellefroid ran a catering facility there. Between 1973 and 1982, Mr. Ploemen, a farmer from the Eastern mining region, established a catering facility with accompanying petting zoo. Due to a lack of investment, the complex slowly deteriorated until around the turn of the century not much was left of it. In 1999 the complex came into the hands of the Van der Vleuten family who converted it into a forest café ‘t Hijgend Hert with a small pets zoo.
The Wandelgek decided to enjoy the beautiful terrace and ordered a cup of mustard soup the obligatory large portion of freshly squeezed orange juice with ice cubes and he tried one of the home brewn Hert beers which was surprisingly tasty.
Then he walked on and returned toward the Rugweg and followed it south until it merged with the Vaals-Vijlenerweg, between Harles and Vijlen. After the merge, the road was named Vijlerberg and it was only a short distance before The Wandelgek reached Vijlen and his hotel for the upcoming nights ..
Hotel De Linde in Vijlen
Hotel De Linde is located on the verge of a ridge, from where the view over the surrounding landscape is sublime. After checking in I first went to my room to get rid of the large backpack and to take a quick shower. The room was great. It was clean, spacy, the bed was a delight to sleep in and there was a television in the room too. The bathroom with shower and toilet was bright and clean. Wifi was freely available for guests.
Then I decided to go downstairs to try one of the draught beers. I selected the hotel because of its selection of draught beers 🙂 There was still enough sun on the terrace and I chose the Gulpener UR Weizen beer. The road in front of the hotel is not too busy, so it is fine to sit there and read a bit or make plans for the next day.
I had plans for some light walks, not to far, not with the large backpack either but with my waste girdle instead. I wanted to explore the environment but as stated before in a relaxed manner. For this I planned two walking routes using a local beer walk and a wine estate walking guide which I had used once before and I liked to pick another walk from that guide. Furthermore I wanted to follow a piece of the Dutch Mountain Trail that went through the Vijlener forest towards the south side of Vijlen and I wanted to revisit Het Hijgend Hert. More of these plans in my next blogpost 🙂
Then it was diner time and I decided to eat at the hotel. I loved eating the diner at the hotel the diner so much that I kept eating diner there for the next evenings too. I started with their fish dishes, a starter with 3 kinds of fish and then as a main course the salmon. Yummy.
The hotel has a barroom next to the diner room and I spent the rest of the evening enjoying coffee, a few more draught beers and read a bit in my wine walking guide which I needed the next couple of days.
Then it was time to go to bed.