One random evening while staring at the world map hanging on the dining room wall, out of the blue, my flatmate said: We should hike through a country! We studied the map for countries not too large to hike through and concluded Luxemburg would be perfect.
And so it happened. I drummed up the craziest among my friends, and the four of us, three Belgians and a Norwegian, set off to Luxembourg.
We left Brussels super early in the morning around 6h40, trying to avoid road blocks caused by President Trump's visit to Brussels. We left the car on a public parking in Bastogne, took the bus from Bastogne to Libramont, then the train to Luxembourg city, thollowed by another bus to Echternach, where we arrived around 12h30.
We were on the other side of Luxembourg now; according to my mobile network operator we even were in Germany. From here we would start walking. In four days, we'd try to cover 120km and get back to our car in Bastogne.
Echternach is the oldest city of Luxembourg. The town grew around the walls of the Abbey of Echternach, founded by an English monk in 698. His tomb is still preserved in the basilica. We strolled through the village buzzing with tourists (who were all stocking up on cigarettes) and picknicked in the park next to the abbey of Echternach. The Sauer river along which we sat, establishes the border between Luxembourg and Germany. We'd be seeing this river several times throughout our trip; in places like Diekirch, Ettelbrück and Esch-sur-Sûre. We considered building a raft and peddle home, but that would be cheating.
We could've spent much more time lying in the grass while picknicking and enjoying the good weather, but it was 14h00 already and we had lots of distance to cover. It was time to start!
Just outside the village, the GR5 route starts, leading up a hill to a viewpoint over Echternach.
The trail went on through the woods between Echternach and Berdorf, known for its sandstone rocks and caves. This is a beautiful area for hiking, with popular tracks such as the Mullerthal Trail crossing a region known as Luxembourg's Little Switzerland. The 112km track is composed of 3 large routes, which are connected, but can also be hiked separately. This is the only part of our hike where we saw so many people.
We had just started, but were suffering already. The landscape was not exactly what you would call flat, the sun was burning, we were running out of water and our 14kg backpacks didn't make things easier. Around 17h30 we had reached the village of Berdorf, meaning we had earned a rest. And a drink.
After Berdorf, the trail led us back to the shade of the woods *sigh of relief*. This part seemed to be a popular spot for rock climbers. Large groups were going up and down the rocks everywhere.
We left the woods and walked along vast fields while the sun was setting. The golden hour had come: everything around us was wrapped in warm and soft colors, the perfect moment for photography.
Unfortunately, there wasn't much time to dawdle. The understanding sank in that we had overestimated ourselves, or underestimated the distances. We were making slow progress and it would be hard to reach our final goal for the day.
Our last stop today would be the castle of Beaufort, built in the 12th century, which we reached just before the sun disappeared entirely.
We had read an open air adventure pool had just opened up in Beaufort, which would've been perfect for cooling down. But there was no time for that, it was 21h already and we had to find a place to pitch our tents.
According to the map, there would be some remote fields a few kilometres ahead. We had to walk a last stretch through the forest, which had become very dark now.
Around 22h, we finally reached our destination, and found a spot on the border of the forest for our tents. We kicked off our shoes and enjoyed a meal consisting of the picknick leftovers and some hot soup.
And of course, there's no camping wild in the forest without strange and scary noises. At night, even the sound of moving branches are creepy. But we were so exhausted, we didn't let them keep us awake long.
- - In normal conditions, the ride from Brussels to Bastogne takes about 1h40.
- - In Bastogne-North, we took the 9h02 bus to Libramont. The ride took 43 minutes and made 3 stops.
- - In Libramont, we took the 9h57 train to Luxembourg Gare Centrale. The ride took 54 minutes.
- - In Luxembourg, bus 111 at 11h23 drove us to Echternach train station in 57 minutes. Arrival at 12h20.
- - More info on the Mullerthal Trail on the official website. http://www.mullerthal-trail.lu/en/the-trail
- - The Beaufort castle is open for visitors until 17h30. Students under 26 get in for free, others have to pay €5.