Thursday, 14 August 2014

Thursday 7th August 2014 Abv Gosselies lock – abv La Louvière. 25.1kms 1 lock

The magnificent Wallonie Spangler!
13.2°C Sunny start, grey clouds then sunny and hot with white clouds. Breezy. A tug and pan went past heading uphill just before we were ready to go. Oll had told Mike he’d seen a brightly coloured bird, so Mike went to take a photo – Oll nicknamed the parakeet the Wallonie Spangler – it was very brightly coloured. Set off at 9.15 am. The tug and pan were still waiting below Viesville lock when we arrived. Three cruisers came down, then the tug went up; as the pan was 67m long and the tug about 20m there was no room for us in the 87m long chamber.
Leaving Vieseville lock
Another three cruisers came down, then it was our turn and, as it was just us two narrowboats, we had the pick of the floaters and straddled the centre gates to have the luxury of a floater fore and aft each. Up 7m in no time and at 10.30 am we set off on the summit level of the Brussels-Charleroi canal. Nothing waiting to go down the locks. The industrial grot was left behind, but only for a while. Several loaded boats and another tug and pan went past heading for Charleroi. I made a cuppa and we ate two speculaas biscuits with our tea as a
Fishermen beware!
celebration that I’d just got our new Belgian PAYG Internet connection to work – it is so nice to be able to access the Internet at any time! A 70m tanker called Zesteinhoven was moored by an oil storage depot near Seneffe and we were back into the land of factories. The Snail was in front and turned into the canal du Centrum first, as an empty called Present came out of the canal and turned towards Brussels at the wide junction where there was another large oil storage depot. A cruiser was not far behind it and he turned the other way towards Charleroi. The start of
The summit level of the Brussels-Charleroi canal
the Centrum canal was pleasant with an avenue of trees on the left and fields beyond them, while on the right was an old railway branch line, trees and more fields. Families were out fishing and picnicking along the canal. A DB called Argo from Kampen went past and a cycling team all in matching lycra zoomed down the towpath. Under the motorway and turned left into the old Centrum canal leading to the four ship lifts, the ascenseurs - which are now a UNESCO world heritage site. Straight ahead was the new superfast lift at Strèpy-Thieu that
Moored abv lift no.1 Houdeng-Geognies
replaced them. We moored above the first lift (no. 1 Houdeng-Goegnies) at La Louvière at 1.55pm. Anne phoned the Belgian waterways to find out if the lifts were all open now. Nope. Thieu, the bottom one is, but the other three won’t re-open until next year. By the time we’d got maps and Lucy (GPS) sorted out, etc, it was 3.40pm before Mike set out to thread his way around Charleroi to get back to the car at Auvelais. I’d printed him the maps he needed from our Belgian Atlas and he’d got Lucy in his pocket with headphones on. The route looked very complicated. When he got back he said Lucy (GPS) did a perfect job until she got to the N90 which has been upgraded so he couldn’t go on it with the moped. He had to find his own way round as you can’t exclude a road in Lucy’s memory.

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