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.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

18th - 22nd July. Going North on the Canal du Nord, then the Canal à Grand Gabarit, before turning to the south on the Escaut à Petit Gabarit, joining The Saint Quentin at Cambrai.

From Peronne we continued northwards on the Canal du Nord, with its enormous locks, and guillotine bottom gates.

There is a lot of commercial traffic on this canal, with many of them being double length barges, like this one coming out of the lock.
As we approach Royaulcourt Tunnel the light is green for us. This tunnel is 4354 metres long, but has a wider section in the middle, where boats can pass safely.

We met no boats in the tunnel, but this barge was rather upset as they had had to wait for us, a mere pleasure boat!

Both sides of the canal are angled, but these “safety hooks” come regularly, to save anyone who might fall in.
Having tied up to wait for barge Spica and his pusher to exit one lock, we are hoping that he can see us, and can also steer past us! This is a big canal, but barges always have a large blind spot, in front of them. Having said that, we have always found them to be extremely considerate on this waterway, often even slowing down when boats are moored.
These metal hooks are used in the locks for our ropes, whether going up or down. On this section we are going down, which is a relief, as it is a long way between the two middle hooks. It would be more difficult to move the rope if going up.

It must have been many years since this bridge saw a paintbrush!

Hope is at hand though! This next one is half finished, and looks great.

The Canal du Nord ends at Arleux, to become the Canal à Grand Gabarit. We saw 43 barges tied up around this junction.
The Canal à Grand Gabarit runs from Dunkirk through into Belgium and we were expecting it to be very busy, but we only saw one barge on this twelve kilometre stretch.

Turning off, we took a pretty unnamed short cut which will lead to the Escaut à Petit Gabarit.

Suddenly the narrow waterway opened out into this huge lake, with so much mooring. We saw two sailing dinghies at the far end, but no other boats were moving.

Reaching the Escaut à Petit Gabarit, we found it to be a lovely canal. Don't worry, it is not all straight!

It is not often that a photo can be taken, looking directly at the sun!

We stopped on the main canal at Cambrai, but the marina is just across the grass from our mooring.

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