These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016 and 2017, returning to Roanne each winter.
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
22nd - 26th October. Engine problems on the Canal Latéral à la Loire, then deep locks on the Canal de Roanne à Digoin.
This canal was upgraded to Freycinet standard gauge in the late nineteenth century, and some of the locks were combined then. This lock, Chassenard number 8, has a rise of six metres.
This is when a long rope at the bows is essential!
The valley of the river Loire stretches away to our left. Here the river is nearer to the canal, but it meanders to and fro across the valley.
There are still many charolais in the fields here, with this fine bull looking very calm today.
Some trees are still green, while others brighten the canal with autumn colours. Our flowers on The Puzzler are still blooming too, later than in any other year.
The leaves, however pretty, create a problem for the lockkeepers. Our engine isn't too keen on them either!
Wild moorings can be found all along this lovely canal. Tomorrow we will reach Roanne.
Sunday, 25 October 2015
12th - 21st October. On to Decize on the Canal du Nivernais, then to Beaulon and Pierrefitte, on the Canal Latéral à la Loire, .
The canal du Nivernais is widening out, below Cercy.
The clock tower, which was built here in 1848, is 33 metres high. It is in the main town square, standing proudly in front of the town hall. It also has three bells in the bell tower at the top, one of which weighs 1300kg.
Our man delivered one load later that afternoon. It was a great relief when he offered to cut it up for us, as well as bringing it right to the boat. We had had visions of moving load after load on our small trolley!
It was nearly dark when the second boxful arrived. The woodman had cut it all to our specified length of 25 cm, so that it would fit into our fire.
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
7th - 11th October. On down the Canal du Nivernais from the summit to Châtillon-en-Bazois, then on to Cercy-de-la-Tour.
Yesterday, Madam éclusier had told us that there was no bakery at Bazolles. This morning she met us at the first lock with two baguettes, even though it was not her lock. What a service! Locks 4-5-6 are a set of 3rise locks at Chavance, and today we have Monsieur éclusier looking after us.
Sadly, the Chateau itself is completely shrouded by scaffolding, but it is still quite imposing.
Some locks are surrounded with flowers, like lock 17 at Eguilly. A lot of work goes into these gardens, by the lockkeeper who lives there.
Our lockkeeper breaks for lunch from 12 until 1.00, but he had left lock 19 at Villard ready for us, so that we could wait in the lock.
The wall of the small building by the lock was a basking place for little lizards.
At Brienne lock we liked the small neat cottage with blue shutters.
Moving on, the trees beside the canal are still very green, despite the autumn feel to the air.
This heron was not upset at all when we passed quite close to him, as he stood serenely on a branch beside the canal.
Mooring below Bernay lock, we went lizard spotting again. Here they were much bigger, but our film star had lost part of his tail at some time. Despite this, he looked very healthy.
Approaching Cercy-de-la-tour, the 12th century Roman church towers over the houses. The blue narrowboat is also heading for Roanne for the winter.
This statue of Notre Dame was built in 2008 to replace the original one which had been built in 1958, on top of the tower, to overlook the town.
The narrow streets of Cercy lead us up to the tower and the church. Sadly, Debbie and Matt are leaving us tomorrow, to return to England.
Never mind being too shy for us to see him out in the country, this kingfisher is sitting beside The Puzzler on the railing on our jetty in Cercy.
Wednesday, 14 October 2015
1st - 6th October. Debbie and Matt join us at Mailly-la-Ville. On to the cliffs of Roches Saussois, the town of Clamecy, then a flight of 16 locks, followed by three tunnels across the summit level.
Debbie and Matt joined us at Mailly-la-Ville, where the ducks were very enthusiastic about stale brioche!
The next morning we reached Roches Saussois, the tallest cliffs on the Canal du Nivernais.
Debbie, Matt, Andy and Shannon climbed to the top for a fantastic view over to the village of Merry-sur-Yonne, on the other side of the river Yonne.
Even coming down was quite tricky, as it was so steep.
Did we really climb up there?
Yes, we did!
The locks are manual on the Canal du Nivernais, with éclusiers who work them for us. We are allowed to help with the gates though, so Matt is in action here.
Moving on to Clamecy, another town which climbs the hillside beside the river.
The collegiate church of St Martin de Clamecy has wonderful stonework.
Inside it is just as impressive.
Debbie and Andy are in step, as they walk down the steep streets of Clamecy.
Moving on, Debbie is activating the next lift bridge. She must hold the button in all the time, to keep the bridge moving.
We are still tending to moor out in the country. Our éclusier calls this type of mooring “au nature”, which is quite descriptive.
After another double lock at Eugny, there is a kilometre of one way traffic on the canal. It is fairly narrow and we found that, away from the middle, it is quite shallow, but we only touched the bottom once!
Charolais cattle crossing ahead!
After lunch the weather cleared and we continued along the summit level. Any boater from England will liken this to the long cutting on the Shroppie, with a similar high bridge.
There are three tunnels next, with this brick lined cutting between the first two, which are 212 and 268 metres long.
The third tunnel is much longer, at 758 metres, but none of these tunnels have lights, as other French tunnels have done.
It is good to see the trees and daylight again at the other end.
We moored near to Bazolles, another attractive village set up on the hillside.