Wednesday 30th June
We woke up to another glorious morning, though still rather windy and for breakfast, it’s back to normal as we are both full from the gastronomic delight of last night.
Our target today is to get to Beziers, about 20-kms but there are two obstacles that could hold us up. Firstly there is the single lane, 160-metre “Malpas tunnel”, this is then followed by a flight of locks dropping 20-meters, known as the “Fonserannes Staircase”. The issue with the staircase is that there are set times to travel through them so arriving at the appropriate time could prove difficult, still we shall see.
Winding our way through several villages and numerous vineyards before we came across the Malpas Tunnel. The “hype” in the book suggested it would be difficult to navigate being wide enough only for one boat, and sounding your horn was essential, but to us it looked rather like a big bridge as we could see out the other end!!! We were expecting a long tunnel similar to the ones in the English canal system. We think had we blinked, we would have missed it!!!
Onwards and upwards heading towards Bezier passing similar scenery as we wound our way along the canal when suddenly we arrived at the top of the “Fonserannes Staircase“ . Our canal guide book is very informative but along the canal itself there is very little to identify where one is. Unlike the U.K. canals where every bridge has a number to identify your position, there is nothing and that’s why we were surprised we came across the locks so quickly!!
We arrived too early so moored up for lunch until we could pass through. The times going downstream, that’s us, are 1300hrs to 1530hrs and we were in pole position but alas, no, 2-big hotel boats took precedence and therefore we were in the 3rd flotilla, still we got through. We have done many staircases on the English Canal system and they are hard work, well for one of us!! but going through these was easy-peezy , there were two very nice lock-keepers on hand to press all the right buttons, all we had to do was loop a rope onto the bollards and hold on. We went through the staircase in about 40-minutes without raising a sweat.
Our journey continued navigating through 5-more maned locks, through Portiragnes and was now was heading out towards the Camargue region, you never know, we might be lucky and see some of the famous ancient breed of the white horses, alternatively we could stumble on black bulls seen in this region🤞🤞🤞🤞
It was getting late now and this area doesn’t have many moorings, we have steel pegs of course for such eventualities but we weren’t too fussed having to knock them into the ground, instead we found 2-suitable trees to tie onto, and this is what we did “in the middle of nowhere” as the song goes.
We had had enough, out in the baking sun all day is tiring and dinner was calling. Instead of the 20-kms we had originally planned to do, we travelled 35-kms, no wonder we were shattered.
After yesterday’s gastronomic feast, we were down to earth tonight, cold meat salad, followed by a game or two of Crib. (Hazel I lost every game accept one!😢😢😢😢😢Christine)
We have just read in the canal’s manual, “It Is Forbidden To Tie Up To A Tree” Oops 🤭🤭🤭🤭 that’s just what we’ve done, to late now😁😁😁