Libin (The Nutons of the Kaolin Enchanted Park )
The land of rivers
At the heart of the Ardennes lies the Haute-Lesse region, home to the ‘nutons’ or gnomes, the hosts of this authentic and untamed land, a hikers’ idyll.
A - The Kaolin Enchanted Park Voir sur la carte
The nutons, little forest gnomes, hide in rocky caves. These mischievous beings still haunt the forest near Libin. As the guardians of this natural paradise, they are to be found in the Kaolin Enchanted Park!
This 6.5-hectare park lies on the route de Libin in Smuid. Be prepared for a host of surprises…
Did you know? Voir sur la carte
The nutons’ red top hats are said to have originated in Venetia… In the late Middle Ages, the mines of Germany hired large numbers of Venetians. These men were smaller than the Germans, and were therefore able to enter the narrow, low galleries. To protect their heads, they wore top hat stuffed with straw…
B - Land of legends
Vast and impenetrable, in the Middle Ages the Ardennes forest was a place of legends and a refuge for wild beasts… and brigands. They led a miserable charcoal burner’s life there, leaving the forest from time to time to beg or pillage the surrounding villages. Sometimes werewolves were blamed…
Did you know?
Christianity had a hard time becoming established in areas where paganism had spread the religion of trees and stones. It had to cope with the Dea Arduinnâ, an ancient goddess astride a wild boar.
C - The hawkers’ bridge Voir sur la carte
Marie-Thérèse’s bridge, listed in 1989, spans the Lesse level with the old route de Transinne. This four-arched structure blends with the surrounding landscape. Built of shale rubble, it was erected in the 18th century on the trade route between Liège and Bouillon, a city belonging to the prince-bishopric. Along the way, numerous customs posts checked the travellers and goods crossing from the Kingdom of France to the Austrian Low Countries. Europe was still a long way off…
Walking. Voir sur la carte
The bridges walk
Draped in hoar frost, the Maissin region is pervaded by a gentle torpor. Follow these paths of silence, taking the route that leads to the banks of the Lesse and the historic bridge!
Distance: 4 km
Waymarking: purple rectangle
Time: 1.30 hr
Start: in the village of Maissin, opposite the church, panel indicating the starting points of the walks.
D - Past and future
The forest and untamed nature are omnipresent. The legends of the nutons still haunt Libin. Be sure not to miss the amazing Kaolin enchanted park, dedicated to these little gnomes. This is also a land of high technology, with the imposing centre devoted to space exploration, the Euro Space Center in Transinne. In sharp contrast, the villages with their traditional 18th- and 19th-century architecture and low, shale rubble houses remain as charming as ever. These hamlets have changed little. Along the banks of the Lesse and the Our, a rich heritage has been preserved. Hikers will be captivated by the stone bridges and water mills.