Namur to Compiegne Via the River Sambre, canal de la Sambre a L’Oise & the canal lateral a L’Oise 2

After that, we turned back and continued on south, got back into France, off the R Sambre, and on to the Canal de la Sambre a l’Oise. Shortly after Charleroi the river became a lot prettier, and we gradually left industry behind again. The Haute Sambre is very pretty indeed with little villages and towns. We spent a day and 2 nights in Thuin, a small town full of history, exploring some of the sights, and visiting a museum of the working barges. The old Barrow/Grand Canal bargees, and Heritage Boat Association would be very interested in it, as we were. The weather picked up again, and has been very warm indeed, which was just what we wanted for our visitors. Thankfully, we missed all the extremes of weather that our neighbours have been experiencing, though the temperatures have been very high. We had a lot of locks again, all easy, with various types of controls, both manual – truly manual with handles to wind, though always with lock keepers – and automated in various shapes and forms. Mike, needless to say, was out on the bank and getting stuck in too. The lock keepers in this area are all most helpful and friendly, delighted to chat and glad to see some activity, as things are pretty slack here, with practically no commercial barges coming this way – 1 three weeks ago, we were told, the first since last December! On the rivers and canals that are busy with commercial traffic as well as leisure craft, the lock keepers inhabit little eyries high above the water overlooking sometimes two or three locks side by side, and the only communication is by VHF or an occasional wave in acknowledgement as you wave thanks going out of a lock. There is also a lull in leisure craft going through at this time, with kids back to school, with weekends being slightly busier.