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

Having filled the tanks with Belgian red diesel at 0.69 Euro/litre, and bidden our Irish friends farewell, we turned into the R Sambre, and found quite a change from the lovely Meuse. It was quite pastoral to begin with and then became more and more industrial as we neared Charleroi, which is full of very heavy industry, coal yards and recycling factories of all sorts. The river and surrounds are quite filthy, and the air gritty as you pass through. Poor Aquarelle was covered in a grey film of coal dust, (as were her owners) which wasn’t worth washing off until we were well clear of the area. It was very, very warm, and dusty, but would have been much worse in the rain. We had been warned that there were few mooring places of any kind on that end of the Sambre, let alone any with amenities, but having rooted around in the boating booklets and books garnered over the years, we unearthed a list of possible mooring spots that proved most useful. The Tuesday evening found us just two locks up the busy commercial Charleroi to Brussels Canal, five minutes from Charleroi Airport by taxi awaiting the arrival of the friends, who were flying into Charleroi and coming to join us for a week or so. As it turned out, the proximity of the Canal to the Airport was completely unknown to the taxi men, who consulted the Airport Information desk, who had to ring us for instructions as to how to find it! A lot of them would cross the bridge by the lock every day, and it is well flood-lit by night.