The Ardennes lakes
Human intervention in the countryside is not always a bad thing for the landscape: sometimes it adds to its splendour, as is the case with the man-made lakes and reservoirs of the Ardennes. Not only do they reflect the beauty of the surrounding forests, they provide drinking water, electricity and facilities for fishing, sailing, and swimming.
The Ardennes lakes from West to East (with surface areas in hectares):
Bairon Lake (France) 120ha
This lake was created in the nineteenth century near Chesne as a reservoir for the Ardennes Canal. Part of it is now a bird-watching centre, while another part has facilities for fishing and water sports and a small beach.
The lakes reflect the beauty of the surroundings
L’Eau d’Heure Lakes (Belgium) 600ha
Straddling the border between the provinces of Hainaut and Namur, this series of lakes was created in the 1970s as part of a hydro-electric power station, which could also be used for water sports. Today, visitors can participate in a very wide range of aquatic activities, including kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, water ski-ing, sailing, jet ski-ing, motor boating, rowing, pedalos, swimming and diving. Children can enjoy water games at the Aquacentre and rides on the Red Crocodile amphibious vehicle. Land-based activities include tennis, squash, crazy golf, cycling, mountain-biking, walking and flying ultra-lights. There is a hydrotherapy wellbeing centre, plus holiday apartments, a hotel, restaurants and cafés on site.
Vieilles-Forges Lake (France) 140ha
Its position near Revin, surrounded by forested hills, makes it popular with hikers, mountain-bikers and cross-country runners (an 11km trail runs around it). It also has a beach for sunbathing, a fishing area and a sailing club.
Haute-Sûre Lake (Luxembourg) 380ha
The River Sûre was dammed in 1961 to create a reservoir of drinking water and also to drive the turbines of a hydro-electric power station. Today it is a major attraction of the Upper Sûre Nature Park, with facilities for swimming, sailing and diving. Also, uniquely, visitors can enjoy a cruise aboard a solar-powered boat.
Warfaaz Lake (Belgium) 8ha
The River Wayai was dammed above Spa in 1894, following the town’s disastrous flood in 1882. Today the lake created by the dam is a haven for fishing enthusiasts as well as hikers and mountain bikers. Cafés and playgrounds serve the many day-trippers from Spa. In 1979, the lake was drained for repairs and was refilled by a violent thunderstorm in less than 36 hours!
La Gileppe Lake (Belgium) 130ha
This lake was created near Verviers in the nineteenth century to power a textile factory. Visitors can enjoy stunning panoramic views from its 77m observation tower of the surrounding hills and forests.
Eupen Lake (Belgium) 126ha
This drinking water reservoir was created by a dam completed in 1950 and supplies Spa, Eupen and Seraing. It is fed by the Rivers Vesdre, Getz and Helle which drain the Hautes Fagnes moors.
Nisramont Lake (Belgium) 47ha
Another lake built as part of a hydro-electric power station, its dam contains a fish ladder, allowing the many fish in its water to bypass the dam and continue up or downstream. It is popular with fishing enthusiasts and also as a place to hire a rowing boat and then lose yourself in glorious peace and beauty.
Robertville Lake (Belgium) 62ha
Located within the Hautes-Fagnes nature park, this lake has facilities for fishing, swimming, and boating, as well as a leisure centre with tennis courts and a crazy golf course.
Bütgenbach Lake (Belgium) 120ha
The Rivers Warche and Holzwarche were dammed at their confluence in 1932 to feed a hydro-electric power station which continues to generate electricity. The lake is also used for windsurfing and kayaking, and there is a 10km hiking trail around its edge.