Going Up the Canal du Nivernais

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Lunchtime – waiting for the Decize lock onto the Loire and the Canal du Nivernais

We share the lock down into Decize port with a hire boat with some more folk from NZ and then after a very short journey on The Loire we turn right onto the Canal du Nivernais stopping after the first lock at a very conveniently situated supermarket and stock up. We have a relatively long day cruising travelling 35 kilometers with 10 locks and stop at Cercy la Tour for the night. We are surprised to find ourselves alone as we expected to see lots of hire boats and nowhere to moor.

Cercy la Tour 3
Mooring at Cercy la Tour
Cercy la Tour 6
A huge statue that dominates the little town

Cercy la Tour is a very small town but the climb up through quaint little streets to see the views of the village and valley is certainly worth it.  A run along the canal and the purchase of a baguette completes our visit so on Thursday we leave our mooring to enter the lock only to see two hire boats ahead quickly untie their ropes and beat us to the lock – it’s a sunny day so we don’t care.

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Looks like rain …

I spoke too soon as after three locks and 7k the heavens open and we are forced to quickly moor up at lock 27 Moulin d’Isenay – quickly joined by two other boats – I tell Charles there’s no point in us both getting drenched so I go out to hammer the pins in and tie us up but by sods law it isn’t that easy so we both look like we’ve entered a wet T shirt competition – not a pretty site but job done we hunker down. Once the weather calms we see that our neighbours are the New Zealanders we’d met in Decize: Rachel, Jonathan, Puddy and Rob.

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Calm after the storm

Friday we set off as soon as we can and enjoy the stunning surroundings as we cruise along the canal to lock 21 Fleury (6 locks and 14k) where we are once again joined by our new friends.

Moored at Fleury

Charles and I take a cycle ride and get back just before the rain starts again and then he goes to book a table at the nearby cafe/restaurant La Libellule du Nivernais – we had been there a number of years ago and after a great experience are looking forward to another meal. Charles has booked a table for us and our neighbours and also tells me the new owners are French and they can do me an omelette – the great French alternative to a vegetarian meal.

La Libellule du Nivernais – restaurant in an old lock keeper’s house

The meal is mediocre but the company makes up for it and we have a great evening ending with them coming on board Bluegum to have a look around to satisfy their speculation of what she is like inside.

I’m in need of electricity to do some washing so am looking forward to mooring in Châtillon-sur-Bazois after 13k and 7 locks only to find the port filled with empty boats and hire boats so no access to hook up and as we discover our generator has developed a leak after I have done one load of washing there’s no more washing for me or ironing for that matter so life’s not all that bad!! Mooring below the magnificent chateaux is rather nice even though we cannot visit it at this time of year.

There are some beautifully kept locks

I want to get an 11 mile run in before the bad predicted weather arrives so Charles and I set off early on Sunday morning (10th) but four and a half miles along the canal and thoroughly enjoying the views we hear thunder and then the heaven open but with no where to shelter we continue and I’m feeling so sorry for Charles – after all it is my choice to come out – well there’s nowhere to hide and we continue getting wetter and wetter. My shoes feel so heavy and I can feel the water squelching inside – not sure if there’s any scientific evidence to its validity but I count the time between lightening and thunder and it is rather scary how close it is especially as we are under trees – well that cleared the cobwebs away and I ran it in a very good time so alls well that ends well.

Mooring ay Baye

The weather clears and we decide to move off after Sunday lunch to Baye – having all the 14 locks in our favour we travel the 14 k without any hitch and its a relief to know all future locks on The Nivernais are going down so much easier and quicker. It is also nice to have such friendly eclusiers who all seem very impressed with our boat. Taking a walk by the Étang de Baye we see Puddy cleaning their bbq so stop to say hello and stay for a meal together with Rachel, Jonathan and Rob – we finish the evening with game of cards and I’m gutted to lose by one point – well that means we will have to organise a rematch – may have to be in New Zealand……

Before we leave the port we get measured up for flexi-teak to cover the back deck, wheelhouse floor and gunnels – Michel is lovely but amuses me with his lots of sucking of teeth, tutting and saying “expensive, very expensive” many time – now we have to look forward to the quote and decide whether to proceed or buy a tin of paint.IMG_0434It’s down hill all the way from now on and we enjoy travelling through the three tunnels of La Collancelle, Mouas and Breuilles to Port Brûlé to moor on Monday night a short distance of 4k.

Port Brûlé




  1. Hi Sally and Charles, I’m loving a trip down memory lane following your adventures, we met you a few years ago and we have since done the Nivernais, one of our favourites so far. Blue Gum is still looking fabulous as are you both! Regards from Karen & GEoff Nicholas from NZ (hope to catch up in person again some time).

    • Hi Karen and Geoff. Good to hear from you! Hard to believe it’s nearly 3 years since we met you in Châtillon. We have really enjoyed retracing our steps along the Nivernais and in pastures new soon as we travel along the canal de Bourgogne. Best wishes, Charles and Sally

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