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Belgium

The High Fens of Belgium

I recently took a little detour through Belgium, which gave me the pleasure of seeing familiar landscapes under a new light. This time, it was the fog that played with the senses. The “Flat Land”, as Belgium is sometimes called, is not always that flat. If you are looking for mountains, of course, you won’t find them here. But you will find forest covered hills and valleys, meadows and streams in the South of Belgium, in the Ardennes. And there is one special place in that region, the High Fens.

High Fens, Belgium

The High Fens Plateau is situated at the highest point of Belgium (694m). Not very high, it’s true, but the place is completely different from the surrounding Ardennes. This plateau is a place of mystery, and its unusually cold and humid climate as well as its natural beauty remind me of the Russian Tundra. Reddish grasses as far as the eye can see, stunted birches and pine forests. All that is missing are snow-capped mountains in the background. But this is Belgium…

High Fens, Belgium

The Parc Naturel des Hautes Fagnes (High Fens Natural Reserve) covers over 4,500 hectares (11,123 acres) and contains rare and endangered wildlife and flora, such as orchids and black grouse. The ground is very humid, swampy at times, which has led to the formation of bogs and peat. Peat used to be extracted, dried and used as fuel by the surrounding villages. In the 19th century, many pine trees were planted and you can still see these forests today. When the fog covers the land, the forests become eerily silent and dark.

High Fens, Belgium

I was alone on my walk, and loved it. At my own rhythm, letting the pure, cold air fill my lungs. The fog was really thick and I loved this feeling of being utterly alone in another world. Once more, Belgium and its grey skies made me melancholic, but a melancholia it is nice to bask in a little, just for a walk, especially when you know a good Irish coffee is waiting for you!