Having been thwarted as regards completing the full length of the Sambre, we stayed an extra night in Hautmont and invited Amanda and Peter (Le Piglet) to join us for a drink on Saturday evening. It morphed into dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed quite a boozy evening together. Unfortunately they had contracted covid and both been pretty poorly so had had to remain in Hautmont for nearly a month. Luckily there was room for their boat to be stored for the winter as they were unable to return to their planned winter mooring and needed to recover before flying home to Australia. They had been off the booze but brought some super champagne to share. We had a lovely evening and Amanda said how much better she felt the next morning!
Then on Sunday 2nd October we set off to retrace our steps and return to Valenciennes. It was the wettest day we’ve had – we both got thoroughly soaked – but we’d booked our ‘passage’ so had to go on back to Jeumont.
On Monday we went back into Thuin where we stayed 2 nights – mainly because the friterie isn’t open on Mondays and we ‘needed’ chips for dinner! It did give us the opportunity to walk up into the old town above the river where we discovered a most delightful area of terraced gardens on the sunny side of the hill – a real micro climate!
Back at the boat we met Keith & Keith on Nenuphar – the friends of Amanda and Peter who had had to take a huge detour to get back to Hautmont because of the lock closure further down the Sambre. Thanks to them we had avoided getting stuck. They had come through the St Quentin tunnel and not had a good experience at all. We have always maintained that that is not an tunnel we wanted to investigate! Boats are towed through the 5.5km tunnel by a tug ….. there may be a line of boats so if you’re on the end it can be problematic. Keith certainly seemed to have had a hard time and his newly painted hull got several scrapes. Others seem to manage fine but we’ve never wanted to try it!
Wednesday we were off again heading for a little pontoon at Marcienne near Charleroi, but a lock keeper warned us off this plan – said he would not stop there if he had a boat – and suggested we go onto a mooring above a lock further up at Vriesville. We decided to follow his advice even though we had moored at Marcienne previously without problem. And what a delightful mooring it was! We walked along the canal in late afternoon autumn sunshine, enjoying the changing colours, and then I slept really really well -which I certainly wouldn’t have done at Marcienne.