Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Blaton To Strepy-Bracquegnies

3 locks, 1 boat lift, 1 lift bridge, 14½ miles, 4¾ hours

We left the Blaton moorings and after winding set off towards Charleroi with the intention of making the ascent on the Historic Canal du Centre.


The first part of the journey was generally uneventful. The ever present industrial waterfront is a constant reminder that the waterways here are for work not leisure.


Cubed up cars being unloaded

Container ship

The first lock and second locks of the day was pretty much the same format as the previous 2 deep locks.  The first lock Ecluse d’Obourg – Warton was about a 10m lift.



Fixed bollards

The next lock was Ecluse de Harve.  This must have been around 18m deep but fortunately it had the floating bollards.  It makes for a much easier handling and a lot less shouting and stress, although to be fair we have a reasonably good routine now in these large locks.



MR looking dwarfed beside a 150m pusher barge

2305Floating bollard

These locks are really on a massive scale.  The pictures just don’t seem to portray the actual size. They are however gentle giants as the water comes in from underneath all along the chamber so the rise is calm and steady. None of the woosh and draw of a single end paddle system lock.

On a bit further and we came to the first lock we needed to work ourselves.  There’s no winding of handles of wrestling of gates.  There is a pole over the water on the lock mooring that needs to be firmly pushed up to set the lock up.

The green pole is on the arm at the front of MR 

Quite a bit of faffing around on this new fangled device eventually go us a green light.  We found out that coming down was the local sightseeing trip boat which was the cause of the hold up.



I have no photos of the inside of the lock. As we entered the heavens opened with enough water to fill the lock on its own.  But inside there are 2 poles at several places one blue and one red.  The blue one makes the lock start to close and fill and the red is an emergency stop.  Only the blue was needed. As you can see on the photo I have rain on the camera which has spoilt the next set of photos as we enter the Lift Ascensure de Theiu 4



Exit gate





View down from the top

This is No. 4 in the set that lifted boats that is now done by one new one.  The monster lift that is Ascensure de Strepy-Thieu

Perspective… This is about a mile away!

Once out of the lift the lockie drove to open a lift bridge for us. 


We were invited to moor just before the second bridge which is pretty central to the town of Thieu.



Ascensure de Strepy-Thieu from our port hole.

This piece of the canal is now essentially a museum.  The only other boat is a trip boat giving tours.  The Canal de Centre is now since 1998 a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lifts on the old parallel canal remain in position.

It feels like we are very privileged to have all this infrastructure working just for us. I don’t think we can go any further which might cause a problem as we are longer than the canal width which is going to mean a long reverse. The river licence we bought in Veurne doesn’t cover this area. Wallonia area doesn't require a licence. Pleasure boating here is free unlike Flanders area.

Today (Tuesday) me and Graham went on a marathon jaunt around Belgium to get our vehicles here with us having left them a week ago at Asper moorings.  This involved 1 bus and 3 trains taking in Brussels and Gent again.  We were of course caught out by the language. Once back in Flanders our use of French was wasted and English became the norm.  This language divide is razor sharp.

Anyway once we reached Asper which took about 3 hours (2 travelling and 1 waiting) we retraced our train journey by road.  TomTom said 1 hour 15 minutes.  The traffic and road works had another idea which was 3 hours!

This area is very interesting. I urge you to follow some of the links for much more information.


  1. Now that is amazing... fantastic... superb engineering :)
    OK so I'm very jealous right now, want to swap places ?? LOL

    1. Hi K2

      It really is a treat here. We are loving it. There is so much more to it all than either I Deb or Jill can blog about.

      It has to be experienced.