It takes a little effort to track down the trails above Liège known as les sentiers des coteaux. But these secret routes are among the best urban walks in Belgium.
Enclosed by old city walls, the slopes were once planted with vines. They are now peaceful areas above the city with gnarled fruit trees, grazing sheep and even a few goats.
But first you have to find the trails. The easiest way is to climb the staircase marked on city maps as Montagne de Bueren. But these is a more intriguing and less well known route to the top. It begins in the Impasse des Ursulines, which runs off to the left of the long staircase. This leads to a beautiful cluster of old buildings in Mosan Renaissance style.
Some of the buildings belonged to a 17th century Beguinage. But others are not so authentic. They were constructed in the 1960s using fragments from demolished houses.
You now climb up the slopes following a series of narrow lanes and stone steps. Sometimes you come to a dead end and have to try a different route. But eventually you will reach a gate into a secret wood known as the Bois des Mineurs. Here you are high above the old town looking down on the rooftops and spires.
Several other ways to reach the top are even harder to find. One route passes through the courtyard of an old town house behind the law courts. Another access point begins with a staircase built inside a modern house.
The city has marked out five different trails run across the slopes. Trails begin at: Impasse des Ursulines, off Montagne de Bueren; Rue Pierreuse 38; and Rue du Palais 60, Liège. The tourist office hands out free maps.
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.