Railbiking in the Belgian Ardennes

 

What is Railbiking?

When you think of the Ardennes you think of rolling hills, valleys, rivers and being in the middle of nature. You also think of active holidays: kayaking, mountain biking and hiking. Well it’s also a paradise for toddlers and what better way to take in the dramatic scenery than by railbiking. This is something you’ll have never experienced in the UK!

Railbiking is one of the many things which makes Belgium unique. In Belgium the love of cycling is such that they have even found a way of cycling on disused railtracks which run through the forests and valleys of the beautiful Ardennes. Families or groups of 4 or 5 can sit on open wagons with an elevated bike on each side and a long seat for 2 to 3 passengers in the middle. You can go as fast or as slow as you like and it is certainly a good workout for the nominated “cyclists”. There are several places in the Ardennes (and also in Limburg) where you can try out this fun activity.

 

Where did we do it?

On the first very sunny day of the year in early April we arrived at the old station of Warnant, by the Molignée river in the Dinant area of the Ardennes ready to take the 8km round trip up to Falaen and back down again. Although it was a beautiful sunny day and an ideal temperature in the early 20s, much of the ride was shaded as we went through the woodland so our 22 month old and 3 year old were well protected from the sun. As we had 2 little ones an older child in our party came to help cycle so that we could take it in turns to sit in the back with the children. They loved being pedalled fast up the hill, with the breeze on their faces, squealing as we went through the dark tunnels, coming out the other side again to a spectacular view of the valley and river below. As this is a gentle trip through the woodland and you control how fast or slow you go it feels safe to have the children sitting next to you. There is plenty of space for bags and jackets by your feet and babies are also allowed on board in their car seats.

Our route of Warnant-Falaen-Warnant took us about 30 minutes to reach the top where we stopped for a well earned drink in a little café by a very old railway station and then about 15 minutes back down again. There are longer routes which take you to Maredsous and back again but we felt this was about the right length for little ones. There are departures every 30 minutes and the cost to hire a railbike for the route we did was € 18.

After we had got back down to the bottom again we jumped back in the car and drove 10 minutes to the abbey of Maredsous, a village famous for its beer and cheese but for today we settled on ice creams and the play area!

 

Where to stay

Just 40 minutes drive away (39km) lies Landal’s Village L’Eau d’Heure holiday park  in the heart of Belgium’s own lake district and in the Chimay beer region. This holiday park has a beautiful spot in the Ardennes and is set on the edge of a lake with a sandy lakeside beach. It is also located next to the region’s largest indoor and outdoor swimming complex, complete with indoor toddler and baby pools and large outdoor spray park! It has indoor and outdoor play areas and spacious bungalows set on large, grassy plots. An ideal way to experience a taster of the Belgian Ardennes, its railbiking for the kids and its famous beers for the mums and dads!

Leau dheure lake

By Laura, Little Clogs

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