Friday, 26 September 2014

Thursday 18th September 2014 Bogny-s-Meuse to Pont-à-Bar. 34.2kms 7 locks.

Below Levrezy lock
15.3°C Rain overnight, sunny start then black clouds until midday back to sunshine and hot again. Mike moved the car over to the Bogny side of the river as there were roadworks in progress by the post office. We left at 9.25 am and had a good look at the old quay further upriver as a (free) alternative to the pontoon. It had rings and bollards and road access via a path between the houses. Round the right hand bend and zapped Levrézy lock, the lock emptied and we went up 2.4m. I sorted the washing out ready for starting when we leave the next lock. 6.31kms to Joigny lock. A team of
Rock-bolting catch nets above the railway KP67
climbers were rock-bolting catch nets on the rocks above the railway at KP67. A DB called Dwaalgast (I think) went past heading downriver while I was taking photos of the climbers. The noise of a big heavy hammer reverberated up the valley as we got closer to Joigny – at one time the whole river would have had forges in each village. Into Joigny lock, which was already empty, and waited some time before the paddles opened, we thought for a while we were going to have to call the VNF roving keeper out –  just slow electric. We
DB Dwaalgast heading downriver
rose another 1.72m. Paused in the lock cut while Mike engaged the Markon drive then we set off on the 9kms reach. Along the right bank there were fences keeping a large herd of domesticated deer away from the river. More rock-bolting was going on at KP75. Two boats went past, a cruiser with Japanese tourists on board and an Eau Claire called Cheval Bayard, both heading downstream. On the outskirts of Charleville, we went into Montcy lock and lifted the bar but nothing happened. It was lunchtime, 12.50pm so I tried
More mountaineers at work doing the day job
rock-bolting nets at KP75
ringing the Mézières phone number and got no reply. Mike went up the ladder just as Madame came out from the house and shouted hello as she crossed the bridge over the bottom gates and went into the lock cabin. She operated the lock and we rose another 1.76m then motored on upriver, just 2.2kms to Mézières lock, a deep one surrounded by tall blocks of flats, that has always been operated by a keeper before. Today, the automatics were working - there were sparkling new red and blue rods (plastic, where they’ve always been metal tubes before), I lifted the blue rod and we rose (ropeless, as usual) 3.4m. Started the washing machine then switched
Below Mezieres lock
it off again as we’d realised we’d forgotten a lock. It was only 2.9kms to Romery. Big CAT diggers were at work making a new cycle path along the left bank and one was pulling a tree out by the roots as we passed. Further on upriver another digger was adding huge boulders along the river bank to support the new pathway. Up Romery, another 2.09m rise and we set off along the 9kms reach with the washing machine going. Wild hops were ripening in the tops of small trees and a fisherman
Coming up in Mezieres lock
surprised us as he was hidden by the bushes, fishing in a gap just wide enough for him. Out of the lock cut by a big needle weir and a yard full of sand and gravel - but no quay for loading or unloading barges, all must go by road. A British replica DB called Ailsa went downriver as we were passing the moorings at Lumes, where a lone French yacht called Fetiv was moored. A bit further upstream Mike took a photo of a very impressive fishing platform, a veritable living room complete with flowers and a picture of the wall. Another fisherman was fishing from a small boat using a fishfinder. Into Dom-le-Mesnil lock and rose another
An extraordinary fishing platform
1.07m. Children were playing in front of the lock house, we were through the shallow lock in no time and out of the lock cut back on to the river and then it was just a short distance upstream before we zapped Meuse lock at Pont-à-Bar. It was half full, it emptied and we went up. No signs of life at the former checkpoint lock. Only a short distance along the first pound of the canal des Ardennes before we tied up next to the rough steep grassy bank. It was 5pm. The lock gates hadn’t closed behind us so the lock went “en panne” two red lights, heaven knows why. As we were finishing tying up a VNF van went down to the 
lock to reset it and, a little later, the Eau Claire cruiser we’d seen earlier, Cheval Bayard, came past heading uphill on the canal.
Moored at Pont-a-Bar. Canal des Ardennes

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