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, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

5th - 6th May On up the valley of the river Ouche with a visit to Châteauneuf, then on through France's highest canal tunnel.

As we move on up the valley of the River Ouche, it is noticeable how slow the trees are to become green. We are not sure whether this is because we are higher, or because there are more ash trees, which are slower to come into leaf.

There have been a lot of cyclists all the way up the canal de Bourgogne, but this must be a tandem club, out for the day.
This is a really scenic canal, as we pass through various villages, but this view has to be the best, with Châteauneuf high up behind The Puzzler.
Looking closer, it really is a castle up there! Most of it was rebuilt in the 15th century by Philippe Pot, Seneschal of Burgundy. Can't you imagine the knights of old, charging up the hill to attack the castle!
We arrived at the port of Vandenesse-en-Auxois and were allowed to moor on a trip boat mooring, near to the lock. This is due to three hotel boats which are here, taking most of the mooring. Tomorrow they have priority at the locks, so we will not be allowed to go until 4 pm.

We spent Friday morning climbing up the steep road to the village of Châteauneuf, which gave us a splendid view over the Auxois plains.

We were hoping that Shannon would be allowed to view the castle from our rucksack. However, she wasn't, so we didn't either! This is as close as we got.

The village centre was very picturesque.

This tree was on the outskirts of the village, and looked as though it would speak to us at any moment!

Andy and Shannon went right inside the tree from behind. Shannon found a different exit!
Back at the port, the hotel boat, L'Impressionniste, is squeezing under the bridge into the lock. He even has to remove his steering wheel to get under the bridge!

He absolutely fills the lock.
At 3.30pm, earlier than promised, we set off to complete the last 8 locks to the summit level. The front of the lock house at lock 4 is worth seeing! There are so many farm implements fixed to the walls!
We leave lock 1, having had our lifejackets and headlight checked before we were allowed to continue on to Pouilly tunnel. Our checker even reported one dog with a lifejacket on board too! This is the highest point on the French Waterways. We are at a height of 378 metres (1241 feet) so is nearly twice as high as Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield narrow canal in the UK.
Crossing the top pound, there is then a long cutting before the tunnel. Having been given our time, and told to go, we decided to ignore the red lights, and continued.  Luckily we were right, and no-one was coming!
The first half of the tunnel is well lit from the roof, creating eerie circles of light as we go. The second half has lights, but they are not working, so the boat headlight is needed there. The tunnel is just over two miles long.
It is always good to see the light at the end of the tunnel, leading us here into another deep cutting, and then on to Pouilly-en-Auxois.
 We now have flowers on the roof, thanks to the garden centre in Pouilly, and SuperU is very handy too, for shopping.

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