Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Charleroi To Auvelais

4 locks, 15¼ miles, 6 hours

Charleroi certainly lives up to a its Googling.  I took the Metro into the city centre and back.  that was a waste of €3.80! The entertainment was a bloke on the Metro station was begging cigarettes for all an sundry while his wife spent 20 minutes looking at her very ugly self in the mirror provided for the train driver to use.  He also did a good line in bin diving for dregs in beer cans. 

The Metro took me to the town centre where there was a massive market.  Sadly it was mostly selling very cheap ladies clothes in garish colours and hideous styles.  A lot of house and garden plants and the occasional decent looking cheese, meat, and pastry stalls.  The town centre was drab and dismal and in a general state of disrepair.  I let after an hour the way I came.  I took 2 photos only but won’t waste you time or my bandwidth.

Here’s a cute picture of the boy instead

The moorings actually turned out OK in the end.  We met quite a few passers by an all were polite and chatty where English was spoken.  The dogs had a manicured lawn just up the stairs at the Chateau de Cartier.  Several good games of chase were had by all dogs especially when a tennis ball was in the game.

Chateau de Cartier
Chateau de Cartier

The one highlight of the Sunday apart for the lovely roast lamb Sunday dinner done by MR was a glamor shoot that took place on the boat in front lasting about an hour or so.


These were more modest shots pervilly taken by me from behind the bedroom curtains

Monday morning we set off for Auvelais with the first mile and a bit retracing our arrival through the industrial waste lands. Namur is our destination of the week.



One factory seemed to be working.  These massive grab cranes seemed quite sinister, sort of reminding me of the Martians in the War of the Worlds.



This whole area was one a producer of very high quality steel, but it has been bought out and contracts moved by an Indian steel man according to a chat I had with one chap that is a “Job Centre” officer.

Not long after we arrived at the first lock of the day.  A huge sign wit a tap and a big bore hose pipe looked to inviting to ignore seeing as how were were in need of a fill.  In my best French, but more over waving the thick yellow hose I told the lockie that I was taking on water.  All was going well when all of a sudden I noticed we were going down.  I jumped back on the roof of the boat then on to the front deck to release the almost now snagged front rope, then did similar high speed manoeuvres to release the back rope. All this severely aggravated my already tender back. Down we went some 3m and sat at the bottom for the next 45 minutes until we were ordered out wit a rather rude wave and point to the exit. MR had long since gone to cruise very slowly ahead of us.  We headed off leaving the hose running and hanging in the lock.  I’m not normally given to such rude behaviour but had he left us at the top as nothing had come to change the lock I could have put it all back without risking life and limb on the slimy ladder.

As we got out into the countryside the mining heritage of the area became apparent.  All the hills in this area are slag heaps.  And pretty impressive they are too.  It’s great also that nature has taken over and turned slag into woodlands.



All along this river are industrial plants with big keys with barges queuing up to be emptied or loaded.  The main trades seem to be metal recycling and aggregates.

Another Martian

This one throwing around huge blocks of pressed recycled steel.


All these places are on a mega scale, and its all made possible by barge transport.


This is the back of one such barge as we dodged an on coming 1500ton barge on a bend.

Use the car to scale it

Now! this is a strange phenomena, for miles this river very visually seems to be on a slope.  You know it can’t be but no matter how much you tell your self its not possible the visuals are more convincing.

See what I mean?

Having taken 600mg of ibroprofen after tweaking my back earlier in the day, just about this point my back went into full spasm to the point it was difficult to breath so pictures from the journey here on it are non existent.  Deb took the hemp while I took another 600mg and laid on the hot rear deck to ease the spasm. Just about the last of the 4 locks I was up on my feet again ready to get moored up. 

The moorings here are nice and solid, we have brought the vehicles close by and the town has supermarkets. We are close to a rail bridge which is like being being in Ely.

To get the vehicles back Graham and I went back to Strepy-Bracquegnies.  This gave us the chance to revisit Charleroi by rail.  From the track it looked no better!

While we were away 3 more boats turned up so the girls had to move MR about to make room.  One of the couples had a very unique boat a Frigate 44, which turned out to be designed by Branson Boats like ours. They have been doing the European waterways for 20+ years and we had a lovely evening aboard cribbing lots of information from them.  We hope to catch up Trevor Sandi in Namur.

My back is a lot better today so no need to worry mum.  It should be fine in the morning


  1. These are nice stories: narrow canal people traveling Belgium. Surprised (and not :-) by the way you look at our two countries (Flanders and Wallonia).
    I'm happy you survived Charleroi without issues: one of the towns where no one would leave a rather new car, because it's unsure if / what you will find afterwards.
    Some of my extended family can't wait to see you pass by in Mechelen (canal Leuven - Dijle), so we follow your travels closely.

  2. Well I would never have guessed that you are a closet curtain twitcher...
    but somehow or other your self-confessed 'pervert' label sounds right ;) LOL

    Hope your back improves soon, wouldn't want you to miss any more 'revealing' photos :)

  3. Hello Frank

    Keep watching and when we get close send me another message and I we will let you know when we will be passing.