With its dramatic ups and downs, the Moulin des Roches walk will appeal to energetic walkers. It retraces the history of this region from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Villers-Sainte-Gertrude: an ancient village
Villers-Sainte-Gertrude, where the walk starts, is unusual in having belonged to two abbeys. Around the year 1000, the village was the property of Nivelles Abbey. The first abbess was St Gertrude in the 7th century. Val-Saint-Lambert Abbey received the estate as a gift from the local lord, Gilles Bouvet, in the 17th century. He built the castle which forms the centrepiece of today’s Tourism Park.
Look out for the few half-timbered houses which still remain among the more recent dwellings the village. This building technique was invented in the Neolithic period. The beams are made of oak and rest on a stone wall base. The spaces in the framework are filled with wooden laths covered with cob (a mixture of clay, dried cow dung and water) coated with plaster.
Puddingstone: a special rock
On the way out from the village, near the woods and pastures, a few puddingstone boulders can be seen here and there. Puddingstone is a sedimentary rock formed from a conglomerate of round pebbles bound by natural cement. Its name derives from its resemblance to an English pudding, with the round elements reminiscent of raisins.
Notice the botanical diversity
Shortly after you have enjoyed the views of the Aisne valley’s rolling landscape, the path plunges down towards Roche à Frêne. The variety of plant life is worth observing here. Blackthorn and hawthorn predominate in the hedges.
Start: Villers-Sainte-Gertrude (church)
Waymarker: green rectangle
Distance: 6 km
Approximate duration: 3 hours
Level of difficulty: very difficult (very significant climbs)
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