Saturday, 27 September 2014

Wednesday 24th September 2014 Le Chesne to Attigny 16.3kms 28 locks

Leaving Le Chesne on the summit level c des Ardennes
4.6°C Hazy sunshine, clouding over later in the afternoon with short showers of rain. Mike moved the boat on to the town quay at 8.30 am just as the boat that had stopped there the night before, called Satur, set off for the locks. We refilled the water tank from the tap on the side of the road bridge. Mike had his breakfast, bought some bread (1,20€ for a gros pain) then, after giving the boat in front some time to get moving down the flight, we set off at 9.30am carrying on through the shallow cutting, leaving the
Former Bureau de Declaration (papers please!) lock house
above the top lock of the Montgon flight of 26 locks
Meuse Basin for the Seine catchment area and arriving at the top lock of the Montgon flight at 10am. A VNF van had gone past us heading for Le Chesne. Pleased to see that the lock house atop the bank by lock 1 of the Le Chesne flight of four was still inhabited. Zapped the new post and the lock filled, no lock keeper in attendance nowadays. I lifted the blue plastic rod and we started our descent. The locks are all chained, all 26 of them, so as one empties the next one starts to fill. I took photos of the top
First lock, all automatic all 26 linked, the great descent starts here
lock then later decided to photograph all the rest from lock 4 onwards. The top four are the Le Chesne flight, at lock 5 the Montgon flight of 11 locks starts, this becomes the Neuville-Day flight of five locks which runs from 18 to 22, which is followed by the Semuy flight of four 23 to 26 and we worked down them like clockwork, each lock dropping us down around 3m. Most of the lock houses were in a derelict state or gone altogether. Just four houses were still lived in, the top lock, locks 12 and 14, plus the bottom lock. As we went into lock 26 the young lock keeper came
No weirs, all the excess water flows over the gates
out of the house and went into the lock cabin to get his clipboard. First question - do we speak French, yes, look of relief on his face. Did all the paperwork and then asked him where all the boats were, he didn’t know, he said it had been busy during the holidays in July and August, but now there was very little traffic about, it was a little worrying but he reminded us that a scheduled stoppage for repairs commences the beginning of next month. He asked for the zapper and then wished us a good journey. Mike lifted the
Gaps in the masonry where L shaped bars had to be pushed into the
slot to activate the early system of automatics - fun for a narrowboat
designed for peniches that fill the lock chambers.
bar and we dropped down on to the river below. After a short distance down the river Aisne we were at the river lock at Rilly. There were several fishermen camped by the lock with lots of lines out and some strange looking floating things over by the weirstream that had lights on top (maybe crayfish traps?). The young man at the lock cabin wanted a rope, but we said there wasn’t any real need, so he gave up and let us down the 30cms. To the left of his lock was the Vouziers branch, a dead end canal which we’ve never explored by boat. There were more fishermen along the high banks as we went past the village of Rilly. Lock
Lovely lock house at 12
activation now is by a different method, no more zapping, each lock has a suspended hanging pole to turn, situated about 50m before each lock. I turned the one above lock 5 at Attigny and the lock filled. We dropped down another 2m and trundled on into the town, past the old silo quay and moored by a small park area in front of a few houses at 4pm. Gave Mike a hand with the bike and he went off to collect the car from Le Chesne. Internet was rubbish again, on EDGE or 2G, just
Compare this - derelict empty lock house with the one above
 - new lock cabin with control desk on left
about good enough for e-mails. He was back at 6 pm as it started to rain, so we left the bike until later, except he decided to put it back in the car and move it on to Rethel next day before we set off.
Moored on the quay at Attigny

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