(57) Towards Cambrai for the Winter.

This section of the Canal du Nord was not as pleasant as the southern one had been and we were surprised at one lock when a commercial skipper asked us to enter before him. As he came in behind us, the water banked up and caused us to move around a fair bit. We did this for a couple more locks and were glad to reach the tunnel at Ruyaulcourt where we stopped for the night. Within a couple of hours the quay  filled with several commercial barges, but they had all left by the time we were up in the morning.

Canal du Nord and back with the big girls.

We entered the tunnel which was brightly lit and well maintained and then had to wait in the central lay by for an oncoming barge. Out the other side we were confronted by misty conditions which meant me having to stand on the foredeck to keep lookout. We were glad when the sun finally broke through.

 

2 Kilometres into the tunnel – a layby and traffic lights and then 2 more kilometres to go.

 

Out the other side and tricky conditions, being busy with commercials.

Our next stop was at Marquion where we ended up sandwiched between several commercial barges that had stopped for the weekend. It made us feel quite small.

Feeling rather small !

Taking the opportunity to crane the motor cycle off the barge, we rode back to Chipilly to collect the car. It was a lovely sunny day and Peter was keen to give the bike a good run. En route we passed through part of the Somme Circuit of Remembrance, stopping at the Windmill Site and Tank Memorial on either side of the main road.

The Windmill Site. ‘Australian troops fell on this ridge more thickly than on any other battlefield of the war.’

The Tank Memorial.

Having collected the car we headed back to Pozieres where we had lunch in the popular Tommy Restaurant.  It doubles as a small war museum and the walls of the back room are covered with the names of Australian soldiers killed in the area and interesting war memorabilia.

Suitably refreshed we headed back out to the Lochnagar Crater at La Boisselle, the British Cemetery at Pozieres, the Franco-British Memorial at Thiepval and the Ulster Tower which are all very close by.

The Lochnagar Crater at La Boisselle. Pictures cannot do it justice – 100m across.

 

British Cemetery at Pozieres.

Franco-British Memorial at Thiepval – over 72,000 names of the soldiers never identified.

 

The Ulster Tower.

Motor cycle gear is not ideal for sightseeing. I had changed clothes when we collected the car, but Peter was uncomfortable in his boots, so we headed back to the barge. We decided to return the following day by car to explore more of the battlegrounds.

This we did heading straight to the Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont Hamel. The walk took us around the battlefield and brought home how close the trenches were and once again what a dreadful waste of so many young lives the First World War had been.

Wellington Trench, Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont Hamel.

Hunter’s Cemetery – over 40 men buried in large shell hole.

We stopped off for a snack at the small café at the Ulster Tower before heading to the 1st. Australian Division Memorial at Pozieres.  Our next stop was Delville Wood, another very interesting and poignant spot with its South African Memorial and superb museum.

South African Memorial, Delville Wood.

Through the centre arch and you come to the immaculately kept museum building.

Nearby the only tree to have survived 1916 –  a Hornbeam.

50 metres away in front of a more recently planted tree.

How the wood looked after the battle.

We returned to the barge via Cambrai as we wanted to check out the port for a possible winter mooring and met up with Tam and Di on ‘Friesland’. The port appeared to have space although the capitaine was not around to ask so we decided to cruise there the next day and take a chance.

We arrived at the port mid-afternoon and moored outside ‘Plover’ in the autumn sunshine. About an hour later, ‘Trojan’ owned by Janet and Chris turned up and after some trouble with a French cruiser owner opposite, moored alongside us. Apparently he fancied himself as the unofficial capitaine of the port.

After a bit of boat shuffling, we managed to get ‘Aurigny’ bank-side and crane the motorcycle off once again. ‘Trojan’ took our place outside ‘Plover’ and the ‘wannabe capitaine’ shouted over that we had now infringed the fishing zone! We ignored him in true English fashion

Unsure of our place in the scheme of things, we settled down to await the arrival of the real capitaine who was expected some time in the next week or so. We had a couple of pleasant evenings with Tam and Di and Janet and Chris and learned that the capitaine was due on 10th October.

In the meantime we drove to Ors to ‘follow in the footsteps of Wilfred Owen’ who is buried in the town graveyard along with other  soldiers who attempted an ill-fated crossing of the nearby canal in 1918.

The Forester’s House. Wilfred wrote his last letter from the basement. It has been stripped out and made into something of a monument.

Wilfred’s grave in the town of Ors. He was killed whilst attempting to cross the canal just one week before the armistice.

Nearby in the same row, his commanding officer and recipient of one of the four VC’s for the action. He had warned that losses would be heavy and that it was unwise to attempt the crossing.

Back in the port we managed to annoy another French cruiser owner now known as ‘Asterix the Gaul’. We moved the abandoned ‘apology for a houseboat’ out of the ‘fishing zone’ and  into a non fishing zone – as the weekend was approaching and we though it would be easier while there were no fishermen around. ‘Asterix’ was over in a flash and we thought he was going to have a coronary. He shouted at us and was very threatening to Peter (funny to watch as he isn’t very big!) Meanwhile ‘wannabe capitaine’ came over and tried to help…………bizarre as he had caused the problem in the first place??

The upshot was that ‘Asterix’ and ‘wannabe capitaine’ moved ‘apology for a houseboat’ back towards ‘Aurigny’ and back into the fishing area again. We were unable to calm ‘Asterix’  so left them to it and went inside and opened a bottle of wine. We could hear ‘Asterix’ moaning about us across the port for a several minutes.

Our spot for the winter in Cambrai.

The real capitaine popped by on 10th October and said it was fine for us to stay where we were and he would be back on 1st march to collect our mooring fee.

Moored a couple of boats down a superb 60′ ex naval Pennice called Rolkat Geryon (London)

A fortuitous sighting in the port of a van belonging to a heating engineer, resulted in the repair of our central heating boiler. This had been playing up for several weeks and with winter approaching it was a relief have it working again.

So we settled at Cambrai for the winter having completed another great season’s cruising.

Total Kilometres : 1026               Total Locks : 217

Canals : 11                                       Rivers :4                           Tunnels : 8

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