Saturday 26th July
Watten to Bethune 7 hours engine running time 48km
In the morning after a big thunderstorm had passed we set off for our next adventure.
We get past St Omer and we have two locks to get through. Kev amused the first lock keeper over the VHF with his unique French pronunciation, a bit like Del Boys’ “Mange Tout’ language skills. All went well at this lock, the second lock was a rise of 13m, huge! For both locks we just used a stern rope and used the engine to control the boat. The locks are very gentle so far. We’ve hardly had any traffic, possibly as it’s the weekend. We arrive at Bethune at around 3pm, we moored up by the side of the canal, again using our thick, 25m ropes to reach to large but extremely well spaced apart bollards. The barges have to slow down for a narrow section so we don’t get too much movement, but we can tell when a barge is coming around the corner the boat starts to move on its ropes.
We walked into Bethune town centre about a 2 kilometers away, have a quick look around the centre of town and then shop at the Carrefor supermarket, we bought some wine among other stuff, and we were amazed at how cheap it is. We bought some very nice Muscadet for under 3 euros, and some bubbly wine for under 2 euros! We luckily decided to eat on the boat that evening as there was a terrific thunderstorm, really heavy rain and very very windy. We would have got soaked if we’d walked into town.
|Les Fontinettes Lock, over 13 metres|
|Floating Bollards make life easier|
|Large commercial on a large canal|
|Small canal into Basin Rond our refuge for the night|
|Our neighbour at Basin Rond taking back his coin collection under his arm|
Monday 29th July
A short day today 3 ½ hours, 5 locks
We got up to another lovely sunny morning, our friend from last night dropped by and gave us some hydrangea flowers from his garden.
The canal to Cambrai was lovely, but quite weedy and not that deep, the handling of the boat felt quite different. We tackled 5 locks, all very easy, so much smaller than what have been in since we arrived in France. We were met by the VNF lock keepers at the first lock and they gave us a hand held controller that we used to operate the locks. The hand held controller prepares the lock, opens the gate etc all very easy. We arrived at Cumbrai around 12.30 and we have found a lovely spot at the port du Plaisance. Plenty of room for us, which is great. We are out tonight for dinner, looks like there is a good choice of restaurants. We have found a Boulangerie for our baguettes tomorrow morning. We are going to stay tomorrow night as well and have a chill out time.