Saturday, 27 April 2019

Cercy-la-Tour (we don’t call that wind)

With heavy rain and strong winds with 75kph gusts forecast for Thursday we thought we would stay put at Anizy and go for a cycle ride instead of a cruise.  Once we were ready, we decided to walk rather than cycle as we both admitted we find it quite miserable on bikes in the wet, but walking is fine.

When we got to the lock at Anizy we saw a Dutch barge coming up.  We both had the same thought at the same time, ‘If we’re out in the rain walking – why not have a cruise in the rain instead?’.  We had a quick chat with the éclusiers and said we would come down the lock, head for Panneçot for lunch and then carry on towards Cercy-la-Tour in the afternoon.

Wet weather gear for the day on Thursday
Once down the lock we were on a section of the River Aron which made a pleasant change.  We have noticed that the current area we are in is mainly meadowland but very few fields have any livestock. 

When there is any livestock it is almost always Charolais cattle but only a few per field not like the herds we see in milk producing areas of the UK.  It does seem that Charolais are particularly inquisitive and when they see us coming, they run across the field and keep pace with us as we pass.  We laugh as they really do look like they enjoy gambolling.

Arriving at Panneçot we had to take a sharp left into a large open area of water running down to an unprotected weir.  Here there were moorings with electricity and water shared with a camp site but there were no boats, very few tents and just the odd camper van.

Moored for lunch in the rain at Panneçot
The buoys in the picture above are the only indication there is a weir ahead!  After crossing back across to find the canal, we struggled to find the entrance to it as it was raining so hard.  It was a hidden sharp right just before another weir into a flood lock and, once through, we were back on the gentle waters of the cut.

As I just said, it was still pouring as we set off, but the 50kph winds with 75kph gusts just hadn’t materialised.  The éclusiers agreed with us that strong winds were expected and also found it strange that they hadn’t arrived.

Never seen our flag so limp
At Isenay we went through the Pont-levis du Tremblay, the only wooden lift bridge left on the canal.  All the lift bridges were originally wooden and wound up manually.  They were nearly all replaced during the late 19th century with metal bridges.  The wooden decking on this bridge did look like it had recently been replaced so I assume they are keeping it as original as possible.

The wooden lift bridge at Isenay
Even with the constant heavy rain the éclusiers were all friendly and chatty and we enjoyed our cruise even though we were looking forward to getting indoors to dry off and have a rest.

Everyone dressed for the occasion
Karen & Buddy walked for the last few kilometres and met me at Martigny, where there are mooring bollards just short of the town of Cercy-la-Tour.

Karen & Buddy enjoying their walk in the rain

Moored for the night at Martingny
Paul & Sue were moored in front of us having decided to moor there rather than in Cercy itself.  Paul had sent me a message saying they had got absolutely soaked which is rather strange as they have a pram hood on their widebeam.  When we bump into them next, I’m going to make sure I take the piss out of them, as being on the back of a narrowboat without a pram hood is how you get absolutely soaked, not under cover of a massive pram hood on the back of a wide beam 😉

During the day we travelled 14km down five locks and are now only 17km from the River Loire.

Friday morning – what a difference a day makes
As you can see above, Friday dawned a completely different day and Karen & Buddy managed their morning run in brilliant sunshine.  Another advantage of having a tarmacked towpath is that Karen finds it better for running than uneven unmetalled paths.

Running into Cercy-la-Tour with a heron ahead
Seeing the picture of a heron reminded me that when we were cruising in the rain yesterday, I saw three herons wheeling around together; we have never seen more than two at once.

When Karen & Buddy came back and we’d had our coffee (both) and cake (me) we went for a cycle ride.  We headed for Cercy and then out through to a large supermarket on the other side of town.  We were looking for dog food as we think we may have slightly underestimated and may need to buy some more before we pop back to the UK at the end of June.  We came back empty handed as they didn't stock Buddy's brand; we may end up buying a small bag of a different brand and mixing it in until we restock in the UK.

The empty moorings at Cercy-la-Tour
As you can see above, the clouds were beginning to roll in again and by the time we left the supermarket there were more clouds than blue sky but we were determined to look around the town even if it meant getting wet.

We’re still finding it hard to accept that we cycle along high streets and main roads with Buddy.  This is not something we could even contemplate in the UK with the volume of traffic these days.  Cycling along the high street back into the old part of town we were faced with a large statue up on the hill in front of us so we locked up the bikes and walked up the hill to investigate.

Probably a Mary statue as we’re in France 

Heading up one of the streets in the old town
The street above used to be the main commercial street of town until the arrival of the railway line in 1866.  The line and station is a kilometre away and the high street we cycled along to get to the supermarket is the ‘modern’ replacement.

Sure enough, when we got to the top the statue was a Notre Dame but looked very new.  Not surprising considering it was erected in 2008 replacing an eroded concrete statue erected in 1958.

Looking down to the canal basin and rivers from the top of Cercy
The replacement high street running down to the railway station and commercial area of town

Pretty lock between old and new town
Cercy-la-Tour is so named, well the la-Tour was added, in the 1200s following the erection of a large fortification tower on the hill overlooking the river.  Needless to say we couldn't find any remnants of the tower as it is virtually destroyed, but we did find the three rivers that form a confluence in the canal basin a couple of pictures above (Rivers Aron, Alène & Canne).

We spent the afternoon relaxing around the boat followed by a few drinks with Paul & Sue by which time the sun was fully out again.

When we set off tomorrow we will probably moor up near the town of Decize.  As it is a largish town we should be able to do our weekly shop and find diesel and even some dog food.  

We are currently doing the Burgundy loop, a 666km 400 lock circular route, which we are planning on completing by the end of June when we are coming back to the UK for a long weekend.  To put this in perspective with cruising in the UK it’s the same length but 40 locks longer than a circular route starting at Warwick, going up through Leicester and Northampton to Leeds and then over to Manchester down to Birmingham and back to Warwick.

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