Sunday, 25 August 2019

Over the top

Having resigned ourselves to having to return Northwards via the Nivernais canal, water shortages and a lock failures having curtailed our plan to cruise eastwards to Nancy and Metz, we figured that we might as well take a very leisurely saunter along this charming nearly two century old waterway. The last time we came this way it was not enjoyable, in miserable weather and probably in a hurry to make a rendezvous.
Typical of the Nivernais, a gently winding canal and elegant bridges.

The lock cottages were well built back in 1834  

The climb to the summit level from Decise involves 35 locks, and not a problem if taken in daily bites. Antiope does like a metre of water to float in, at times however close to the top locks this was all we had beneath us.
Annie on lock duty
The skipper on BBQ duty


At the summit, the massive lakes at Baye and Vaux provide the water for the high reaches of the Nivernais, a reminder of the engineering feat involved in creating this 180 km waterway through the high central regions of France and a vital link between Paris and the Med.
 
We moor lakeside at Baye at the Nivernais summit
From Baye we cruise through the hill in a series of tunnels carved out of the solid rock before the steep descent through 27 locks in only 10 kms.
No passing room here, The Collancelle tunnels.
A rare sight in France these days, wooden lock gates

We cruise for some days with Kiwi friends aboard Petronella 

 The impressive limestone cliffs at Merry-sur- Yonne

Once through the steep descent the waterway cuts a straight line through flat farm lands
These simple but clever 'needle' wiers on the Yonne river. 
Down from the hills the River Yonne begins to supply the Nivernais with water, the river levels are controlled these days by mechanical barrages (wiers) but in some places the original hand 'pulled' needle wiers have been preserved and restored.
The Nivernais will take us to Auxerre where we rejoin the Yonne river and what has become our local waters and completing the 'Burgundy loup'

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