A trail runs from the village of Nismes to a spectacular limestone gorge deep in the Ardennes. This unique landscape known as the Fondrys des Chiens was formed millions of years ago as rain water slowly dissolved the soft chalk rock.
Excavations have discovered ancient tools and human remains dating back 20,000 years. It seems likely Neolithic tribes threw their dead into the deep fissures. They became known as fondrys in Roman times because they provided iron for local foundries.
The Fondrys des chiens apparently gained its name because locals threw their dead dogs down the pit. The tourist office has marked out a four-kilometre trail from the village church to the gorge. And there is a longer hike across a chalk upland where rare orchids grow in the spring.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.