BELGIUM IS famous for many things, beer, chocolate, moules et frites, Tin-Tin and Hercule Poirot amongst others, but mountain walking would not usually appear on that list, considering the country is one of the flattest in the world.
Well, last week a group of 52 walkers from the flatlands of Belgium, proved that theory wrong on a visit to the beautiful crags and outcrops of the Northern Costa Blanca, where they spent a few days hiking amongst our mountains and valleys.
The trip was organised by the Belgium Walking Federation in conjunction with local specialists, Outbound Adventures and tour company, TUI Belgium and was designed to give the group an insight into the varied terrain and scenery offered by our mountain ranges.
The full six day itinerary was set up to showcase the amazing variety of hiking trails around the region, including mountain passes, coastal paths, reservoir walks and high peaks, with each day offering something different.
Based in Cap Negret, Altea, the group were picked up from their hotel early in the morning and escorted to a different location each day.
During the week of fine, warm spring sunshine, hikers were able to take advantage of the perfect hiking conditions to walk the Puig Campana, Penon de Ifach, Guadalest Reservoir, Sierra Helada and the La Cala de Finestrat coastal path to Villayoyosa.
The Belgiums walkers ranged in age from 45 to 80 and were split into two groups each day, depending on their fitness and mobility levels, before setting off with their experienced local guides.
At the end of each walk, normally around 10km, the groups reconvened at local restaurants for lunch and a chance to share their experiences of the day.
The restaurants were chosen for their scenic views of mountains and sea and for their authentic cuisine which included gazpacho, paella, gambas, mejillones and calamares, plus some local vino to wash it down and loosen the flemish tongues.
The walkers have travelled all around Europe on walking holidays during the last ten years, including trips to the Greek Islands, Slovenia, Italy, Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands, but for most of them, this was their first visit to the Costa Blanca region.
The unanimous verdict from the group at the end of the week was a huge thumbs up all round. They loved the variety offered by the various walks and the changing landscapes, enjoyed the weather and delicious food and fell in love with Altea. Most agreed a future visit would definitely be on their agenda.
The Federation of Walkers in Belgium has thousands of walkers registered to their society, so we can expect more groups on our mountains in the future.
Joe Reed, owner of Outbound Adventures said how much he and his team of guides had enjoyed the week with the ‘ Crazy Belgians’ and summed the experience up in a nutshell.
” It was nice to be able to show a few old dogs a few new tricks ….! ”, he said with a cheeky wink.