The meadow of this valley floor is maintained by extensive grazing, from April to November, by Highland cattle or Kyloe.
The bats fly along the verges and perch to spy on their prey.
The aim of this grazing is to increase the number of insects present, which are a good food source for bats, thanks to the presence of ponds, dead wood, etc. Moreover, the stocking rate is low and pesticides and fertiliser are prohibited in the reserve.
Four bat species live here. They are particularly rare in Wallonia because bats are very sensitive to changes in their environment :
- The greater mouse-eared bat
- The greater horseshoe bat
- The lesser horseshoe bat
- The notch-eared bat or Geoffroy’s bat
Walks around the nautre reserve
Walk through the fields of Orval 1h 5,5km
Discover the life of bats, meet a herd of Highland cattle and ﬁnd the roots of a Cistercian valley.
Abbey vicinity itinerary 1h30 6,5km
Explore the vicinity of the abbey, encounter oaks over a hundred years old, and walk to the rythm of birdsong to the heart of the Bati woods.
Tour of Chameleux 2h30 11,5km
Venture along Gallo-Roman paths between France and Belgium, guided by the murmurs of a brook, toward the old forges of Orval.
This wet valley floor, which is now a protected nature area, has contributed in part to the history of the Cistercian abbey at Orval.
For centuries the Cistercians took advantage of the hydrographic network :
- by creating fish ponds
- by installing water wheels
- by developing an iron works near the abbey around the six- teenth century.
Three factors contributed to the growth of the abbey’s industry :
1) the location of the pond of the Orval iron works at the confluence of three rivers.
2) the proximity of the Lorraine iron ore fields.
3) the wood from coppices, which was subsequently turned into charcoal.
The forges were an important factor in the expansion of such activities as refining, edge tool making, grinding and the manu- facture of sheet metal.
In the eighteenth century, the abbey’s iron works was one of the leading manufacturers in the region of pig iron.
From 1926 onwards, a dairy herd also grazed in the valley. Its milk was used to manufacture Orval cheese. Part of this land now constitutes the nature reserve of the Prés d’Orval (pastures of Orval).