It’s maybe not for everyone, but fearless walkers can follow the 22-kilometre Boucle Noire trail through the industrial wasteland around Charleroi.
Created by two indie rock musicians, this unexpected ramble incorporates canal towpaths, disused railway lines and an abandoned tunnel.
Beginning at Charleroi Sud station, you wander through an unreal landscape of overhead roads, rusting factories and abandoned spoil heaps. But the walk also takes in historic castles, street art and a bird sanctuary.
The two musicians have even put together a playlist of tracks by local bands to listen to as you hike along the route. It’s a cool way to discover the different sounds to come out of Belgium’s unloved industrial city, like Melanie De Biasio’s moody Blackened Cities and Spagguetta Orghasmmond’s catchy L’Amour à Charleroi.
And if 20 kilometres seems a bit too ambitious, you can just do the four-kilometre industrial stretch between Charleroi Sud and Marchienne-au-Pont, then take the metro back into town. The chemins des terrils website has a detailed map and route description.
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.