|Moored nr Tannay on summit of C des Ardennes|
3.6°C (Glad we lit the coal fire overnight!) Grey clouds with sunny spells. Cold wind. Shell boat L’Heritage went past at 9.45 a.m. heading the same way as us. We said we’d follow them today. I asked if they’d had a pleasant stay in Le Chesne and she said they’d had a meal out. We set off at 10.10 a.m. It was about 3.5 kms to the first lock. Beyond the derelict house there was a row of green buoys along the right side of the canal and we could see that a whole length of piling had collapsed. Not really surprising as they don’t add bracing bars when they do their piling here in France. A buzzard sitting in a tree remained there long enough for Mike to switch the camera on and he just got the tail and flight feathers of it as it took off.
|Bank erosion caused by excessive wash. Below lk 1 Sauville|
We could hear another buzzard close by in some dead trees and guessed there might be a nest. As we went round the last bend before lock 1 Sauville we could see the blue cabin of L’Heritage leaving the lock. The telecommand now came into use and we zapped the post where there was a lightning pyramid on top, the yellow light on it flashed to say it had received a signal and the lock lights went from just red to red and green. We crossed a little aqueduct over a stream that runs into La Bar, a tributary of the Meuse, whose valley the canal follows down to the river.
|Lock 2 La Cassine|
The lock filled and we went down. Each of these seven locks were equipped sometime during the 1920s or 1930s with pumping stations that back pump water from the river up to the summit in times of water shortage. 3.65 kms to the next. The wind was chilly as the countryside changed from pastureland to woodland. A jay flew over, squawking loudly. The sloping grassy banks supporting the towpath had been eroded by the excessive wash of passing boats; the VNF had made a vain attempt to stop this by adding a few large plastic sacks full of earth along the edge. Beyond the towpath there was a long open grassy field with the woodland still beyond it.
|Back-pumping station at La Cassine.|
Each of the seven locks down to the Meuse has one.
To our great surprise there was a coypu sitting on the bank beyond the grassy towpath, watching us watching him. He ambled off before I could take a photo. A few minutes later exactly the same thing happened again, another coypu stared at us for a few minutes before diving into the canal and the safety of its den. Zapped lock 2 La Cassine. Mike took photos of the sun shining on the mellow stone ruins of the château beyond the lock house as we went into the lock. An old black dog from the lock house woofed at us while wagging his tail. Their garden was full of gnomes and stone animals. Below the lock there is a useful quiet mooring, today the grass between the picnic tables was being eco-mowed by a large brown un-tethered goat.
|Chateau ruins at La Cassine|
As we chugged on along the last few kilometres of canal for today I made a cuppa to warm us up. More buzzards, a group of four, were soaring high up far off to our right and being attacked by a solitary crow. Flocks of fast flying darting birds took off from the towpath, too swift to see accurately what they were, I guessed they might be finches. The road alongside the canal became busy with lunchtime traffic, one vehicle every five minutes! There were low tree-covered hills beyond arable fields as the canal started to wind around to the next lock, 3 Malmy. We didn’t zap the post, as we wanted to moor on the quay just before the lock. It was 12.40 pm when we tied up. Again the Internet was useless so no blogging today. The quay here is suitable for Mike to do the job on the car he’s been waiting to do for some time. As soon as the bitter cold Northerly wind stops he’s going to renew the camshaft timing and auxiliary drive belts. He doesn’t know the service history so it’s safer to change the belts rather than risk them breaking. If the camshaft timing belt breaks the repair could be very, very expensive.