During our recent travels, we've moored up over night at a variety of wonderful places. Some of these will remain firmly fixed in my memory, and often for different reasons. There have been places of incredible beauty, others of great tranquillity, some of unusual convenience. Whatever the case, I thought it would be fun to write a couple of posts about moorings I've particularly enjoyed. Here are a few good ones to start off with:
This first one (above) was actually the last on our trip this year. It's at Oudenaarde and is against the quay where the commercials tie up over night. There is a marina at Oudenaarde, but we prefer it here because we can watch the barge traffic going past. There is electricity, and as far as we know, it's free, although we're not sure if we were just lucky and someone had forgotten to turn it off. It might be intended for the commercials only, so it probably isn't something we should count on. The only downside is if barges speed past, it can set up a lot of rocking. When we were there ten days ago, a huge barge sped through the lifting bridge and then promptly did a handbrake turn (use your imagination for that) so it could go back through the bridge before it closed. I felt seasick for a good fifteen minutes after he'd gone as the rocking just went on and on...and on. Yes well. That aside, it's a lovely place to be and there's an Aldi just over the bridge and round the corner. Just what everyone wants, yes?
This next one is one of last year's photos, but we moored there this year too, and it's at Leers Nord on the Canal de Roubaix. We absolutely love it there. In fact, there seems to be something called the Leers effect as confirmed by the owner of another barge that was also there when we arrived and was still there when we finally dragged ourself away after five days. One of those 'you can check out any time you like' places but you never want to leave. There's definitely free electricity and water, a great café/restaurant and good shops just a kilometre away. There are some other lovely places to moor up on the Canal de Roubaix that have electricity too, but we haven't tried those yet. The whole canal is highly recommended.
I know this next mooring doesn't look all that interesting, but we really liked it. It is on the canal to Brugge/Bruges and it is totally unofficial, but then we tend to be attracted to informal moorings. They seem more adventurous somehow. This one is at Aalter. It's against a loading quay that has rails along the top and a moving crane. I suppose commercials come there to load up with concrete slabs or just the raw materials, but we found a bollard in the grass and a hook right at the end beyond the rails. We weren't in anyone's way and there were steps up to the quayside. We had to walk along the rails to find a place to get out onto the road, but then once round the corner, we found a good friterie. It was a bit on the pricey side for a chip shop, but it was just what we needed at the time.
This last mooring was on the Scarpe at St Laurent de Blangy. I'm not sure I would say it's a favourite all the time as it was a bit busy with all the kids coming to the water sports centre there (see the canoes), but there's free electricity and water and if you want to pay for Wifi, you can get it from the watersport centre's office. That costs €7,50, but it seems to be valid for three months, not that they'd be happy if you stayed that long, but if you really wanted your money's worth, you could always drive back there for some Wifi time. I mean you would, wouldn't you? Anyway, a very nice French man told us that most of the year, the mooring is wonderfully peaceful (remember: he said that, not me ) and as I loved the Scarpe, I thought it was worth adding. It's also a twenty minute walk from Arras or a bus ride if you're clever enough to figure that out. French public transport remains a mystery to me. I think you have to get up very early to spot a bus in these parts.
That's it for this week's favourite moorings then. I'll probably do a few posts of these as they might be useful to other boating friends. Have a good Sunday allemaal, and I'll catch up with you all in the coming days.