Saturday, 23 June 2012

Watten & St Venant

After a couple of days in Calais waiting for weather and tides to be in our favour we were able to enter the inland waterways system through Calais Lock. We had a tense moment as we approached a very low bridge which the books we have assured us was 3.5 metres above the water but which the Marina Marina manager told us was actually 3.3 metres. Our boat has an air draft (height above the water) of 3.4 meters. Emma was sent into the cabin and we held our breath. And passed underneath with a bit of room to spare.
The low bridge at Calais

We made our way down the Canal du Calais to Watten, which we had read about in Damian & Siobhan Horner’s wonderful book “For Better, For Worse”, so we knew that there was a mooring place in the village.
Sadly, the recession hasn’t missed this part of France, and the lively restaurant they describe has, sadly, closed. We spent a couple of night in Watten, walking to the top of Mount Watten and exploring the village.
A sign at the entrance to the churchyard states that part of the churchyard is administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. We looked all around, but couldn’t see anything that seemed to fit. However, later we got a little free Wi-Fi and looked at the CWGC website, finding that there is just one grave at Watten which they look after, that of Private Gornell who died, aged 33, in 1917.
If you have never looked at the CWGC site, I would encourage you to do so. Sadly, virtually everyone has relatives listed on there and it is a great source of information and very easy to use.
Stephen getting to grips with the tender at Watten

At Watten we moored alongside Mike and Heather on their boat La Gitna (it means The Gypsy Dancer). They were on their way back to Saint Venant, which is where they keep their boat. They recommended it to us, so that was our next stop.

On the way we had to pass throught the massive (13.7 metre) lock at Les Fontinettes, which was nerve wracking as we approached, but actually proved very easy to use.
The lock at Les Fontinettes

What a great recommendation that turned out to be! Saint Venant is a beautiful little town with great facilities to encourage visiting boaters.

Window boxes and hanging baskets in Saint Venant

Saint Venant watermill
We spend a wonderful couple of days there, moored alongside Ian and Karen on their converted London Tug “Tommy Lee” and were really quite reluctant to leave. However, it was time to move on, this time toward Belgium.

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