The third stage of the race takes us from the Belgian town of Verviers through Luxembourg from north to south into Longwy in France. Verviers sits on the Vesdre river, one of the streams which drains the High Fens (French: Hautes Fagnes; German: Hohes Venn), a Ramsar wetland of international importance.
The High Fens occupy a plateau in southeastern Belgium — the highest point in Belgium is a signal tower in the High Fens. The Fens themselves are actually raised bogs which receive their water from the high rainfall on the plateau.
From the High Fens flow several streams, including the Rur, which we crossed yesterday at Jülich, and the Vesdre, which flows through Eupen, Verviers and Chaudfontaine (which we also passed through yesterday on the way into Liège) before flowing into the Ourthe and then into the Meuse, which later joins the Rhine to form the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta.
Verviers was once a center of the Belgian wool industry, which grew because of the ability to wash wool in the water of the Vesdre. Wikipedia says that the Vesdre water has high acidity as it flows out of the acidic bogs of the High Fens. However, George Tanner, American consul at Verviers, seems to suggest that the waters of the Vesdre are naturally rather alkaline, which is not good for wool washing. Tanner claims that it was only after the construction of the dam on the Gileppe that Verviers could obtain appropriately acidic water for its wool.