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GR 121 Stage 3: Nivelles to Braine-le-Comte

Stage 3 of the GR 121 long-distance path is a really lovely walk that I highly recommend.

Following my mixed opinion to Stage 2 of the GR 121, I set off on Stage 3 with a little trepidation. But I was pleasantly surprised by this route which gave me a most enjoyable day’s hiking. Firstly, here is the map of the route which you can download as a PDF; the GPX track is available on RouteYou.

I recommend the walk for the following five reasons.

1. The scenery

GR121 stage 3 (6)
GR121 stage 3 (2)
GR121 stage 3 (7)

2. The Canal

GR121 Stage 3 Canal (2)

3. The Canal Boats

4. The Canal Lift

You pass by the Ronquières Inclined Plane or boat lift. See this post of mine for all the details of this incredible feat of engineering.


5. Nivelles

Well worth a closer visit if you have the time.

So what are you waiting for? I am absolutely convinced you will love this walk. It starts from Nivelles railway station and ends 20 kilometres later at Braine-le-Comte railway station. Make a day of it, eat your packed lunch on the banks of the beautiful and ancient Charleroi-Brussels canal, enjoy plenty of peace and solitude, and even take time to visit Nivelles and the Sloping Lock of Ronquières.

40 thoughts on “GR 121 Stage 3: Nivelles to Braine-le-Comte”

  1. These photos are so inviting. No wonder you’re always out and about in Belgium – naturally beautiful country with wonderful history thrown in. How long did it take you to walk this route?

      1. My parents were from Flanders, and I’m pretty sure dad had a couple of these big beauties on our farm in Canada. That was back in the 1940s.

        1. Interesting that you say the 40s Yvonne. A lot of these horses were used in the Second World War, although more were used in the First World War

  2. I’m sold! I got hooked by the canal boats, but I also loved the hanging up bike and the shed with a tree roof. 🙂 🙂 Now, when can I pencil in Belgium?
    Love the smart new look, Denzil. Many thanks for the walk.

  3. Great read Denzel – first time I saw Ronquieres was when I cycled down the canal from Brussels so to say I was surprised by what I found was an unstatement. Look forward to the next stages.

  4. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Whitburn through the Looking Glass | restlessjo

  5. Hello Denzil,
    The two posts make it sound so appealing. So you did it in a day?
    If we wanted to explore the villages, I’m assuming we would expect an overnight stay? I’d really value your thoughts please.
    Thank you for these posts. We love our walks…🙏🏼💐💐

    1. Hello Di, thanks for your question. Yes I do all these walks in a day, and generally do not stay overnight. There are many AirBnBs or Bread & Breakfasts in Belgium, as well as hotels of course in the towns. I have not done any research into accommodation along these walks, but can do so if you specify some areas and the type of accommodation. When we go walking in the Ardennes, Liz and I often stay in one of the many small self-catering “gites” (cottages) in the Ardennes, which are of a high quality and affordable. I can point you in the direction of these if you want. Any further questions … ask away!

      1. Hello Denzil,
        That’s wonderful information, thank you so much and also for your kind offer to ask more questions.
        We are relocating to London in September so suddenly, the opportunity to follow in your footsteps is very real.
        So thank you, and I just may have to refer to your previous posts for reference…

        Wishing you a lovely Summer weekend there,
        Thanks again,

        1. That’s quite a change Di and a tremendous opportunity. I guess these are busy weeks packing up and working out where to live etc. I wish you peace amidst the stress that any relocation brings.

          1. Thank you for your lovely and supportive reply, Denzil…yes, we are so excited and to have Europe on our doorstep will be thrilling.
            I remember well that you understand what it’s like to move to a new country after your relocations to the Netherlands and now Belgium…
            Thank you too for your well wishes of peace amidst the stress. We will gratefully accept it.
            Until soon,
            Take care,

  6. Walk sounds lovely in an area I haven’t visited yet. How easy do you think it is to get back to the start where I would have to park? Is there a bus line or connection as far as you know? Thanks in advance.

    1. Debbie, TEC bus number 63 goes from Braine-Le-Comte to Nivelles. In the late afternoon there is a bus every 30 minutes or so. The journey takes 35 minutes. Hope this is helpful.

  7. Looks like an incredible walk. Your shots are stunning, Denzil! Keep exploring Belgium for me, please. One day, I’ll follow in some of your tracks. 🙂 Some of the scenery looks very familiar, especially the houses ad churches – they look alike in Flanders and Wallonia.

    1. Thank you Liesbet! Yes I think Brabant Wallon is very much a mix of Wallonia and Flanders, and not quite the same as the cottages down in the Ardennes.

  8. Hi Denzil! Well, you beat me this time 😀 Lovely picture post that makes my mouth water; if all goes well, I will make the trip next week. Nice new outlook too. I see that you intend to go further on GR 121; I’m afraid Braine will be my final stage as I’m planning to continue on GR 12. I saw your post when I was in Switzerland last week but I couldn’t access because I had forgotten my password (and not just that one). Wishing you a nice Sunday!

    1. Thanks Guido. Yes I am hoping to reach the French border on the GR 121. Looking forward to seeing your GR 12 posts. Yes I am enjoying my Sunday: our grandson is visiting from Sweden! 🙂

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