Friday 8th June – Cor blimey to the sublime once more…..
Our little convoy of 2 turned off l’Escaut for the Canal de l’Espierre, which joins the Escaut in Belgium to the Deule in France. This little canal was only reopened in 2011 and the management is shared between Belgium, Canal de l’Espierre, and France where it becomes the Roubaix Canal. About 40 kms in total I has 15 locks and 10 lifting bridges.
We had been warned that the entrance is very narrow and difficult to see and it certainly was – with overhanging vegetation to obscure the entrance and catch unwary boaters. We got through slowly and were met at the first lock by a really pleasant lock keeper, Alain, who took us up through 2 locks (separately) and 3 lifting bridges to a little place called Leers Nord. The canal is small and none too deep in places so it’s important to stay in the middle. Complete contrast to l’Escaut we had just left! No commercial barges or commercial wharfs, just countryside, geese, horses, deer and goats to pass by.
At Leers Nord he arranged for us to moor before the lock and David just the other side – each on nice pontoons with water and electricity – all free! And we were right beside the pedaloes!!!
Unfortunately the restaurant beside the lock was full that night so we popped into the village and found fabulous butcher’s, greengrocer’s and baker’s. We had a simple but delicious BBQ on Piedaleau.
We had seen Shensi (Andy and Nicki ) moored beside the entrance to this canal awaiting the reopening of the lock on l’Escaut on Tuesday, so we rang them to see if they wanted to come up to join us. They had been under the impression that Shensi wouldn’t get up the canal but since Carmen had done so, they joined us next day! So we had quite a little gathering again! Dinner on Carmen on Sunday (David cooking and Andy entertaining us with various funny stories) followed by another BBQ on Piedaleau on Monday. So, all in all, another very social little sojourn!
The canal is not wide at all so boats have to go up to a turning area a couple of kilometers into the french section which the lock keepers liaise together to arrange. All very friendly & low key.
On Tuesday Shensi headed back down to be ready to rejoin the big guys on l’Escaut and get on with their trip to Namur. David’s first crew arrived – Steph, Rowena & Guy. And I was preparing to take the Eurostar home from Lille to look after Lisa whilst she has an op on Friday. We had a delicious dinner on board Carmen and waved them off on Wednesday morning.
So that just leaves Adrian here in glorious isolation to work through his ‘to do’ list.
Interesting to comment on the sounds at our recent moorings – at Deinze it was the carillon bells from the church – at Kortrijk it was the bumping and bashing of the boats against the pontoon as the wash hit us – at Leers Nord it is the croaking of the frogs and the squeaking of the family of coots beside us – oh and now the workmen at the pub doing all sorts of stuff so still no option of eating there!