We’d come to the Ardennes for a two day trek around the Semois valley with an extended group of the in-laws. This is a beautiful part of the world. The Semois is a shallow and placid river at this time of year. We crossed it on a wicker bridge (pont de claies). I’ve never come across one of these before, but such constructions were clearly typical of the region, as can be seen from the images at this site. Not for the first time when traversing European countryside, I was conscious of the industry that had not so long ago given the landscape its characteristic features. In the case of the Semois valley, with its particular micro-climate, it was the tobacco industry. Indeed, some of the older Belgians in the party remembered Semois pipe tobacco as being the best and the most fragrant through until the 1970s. There are still plenty of the special structures in which the tobacco was hung to dry dotted about the landscape but since they are built of wood most will disappear before too long.