Cycling French Canals logbook

STAGE ONE – GIVET TO PARIS

16/05/17 – Charleville-Mézières – Charleville-Mézières
10.6 km in 56 min, 11.4 km/h
Canal de la Meuse, PK 79.0 – 81.6 ––– total 10.6 km (waterways 4.6km)
Prologue, loop to Jean Aubin port de plaisance, only 1 boat in basin (poor design, see photo below), VNF weir being rebuilt, charm of double loop and lock-cuts, confusing!
meuse-80-charleville-port.jpg
17/05/17 – Charleville-Mézières – Givet
84.5 km in 332 min, 15.3 km/h
Canal de la Meuse, PK 81.6 – 4.0 ––– 77.6 km, total 95.1 (waterways 82.2 km)
Smooth cycle path, VNF weir rebuilding, Pilkington’s description recalled, Monthermé puncture, Fumay burgers, nonsensical PR signs, local roads to bypass the Ham tunnel, which has no towpath.
18/05/17 Charleville-Mézières – Pont-à-Bar
17.2 km in 63 min, 16.4 km/h
Canal de la Meuse, PK 81.6 – 96.3 ––– 14.7 km, total 112.3 km (waterways 96.9 km)
Still smooth but detours away from riverside, neat former railway bridge, mess of signs at entrance to the Canal des Ardennes
18/05/17 Pont-à-Bar – Rethel
71.9 km in 298 min, 14.5 km/h
Canal des Ardennes, PK 0.0 – 63.6 ––– 63.6 km, total 184.2 km (waterways 160.5 km)
Café franco-belge, Xavier Durr at Ardennes Nautisme, rain, stuck in clay, towpath out, then hard going, Chémery, fast path down flight
19/05/17 Rethel – Vieux-lès-Asfeld
28.3 km in 132 mins, 12.9 km/h
Canal des Ardennes, PK 63.6 – 88.0 ––– 24.4 km, total 212.5 km (waterways 184.9)
Still very heavy going, resorted to roads in places, Asfeld church, left canal for lunch from baker in Neuchâtel-sur-Aisne
19/05/17 
Vieux-lès-Asfeld – Berry-au-Bac
20.7 km in 107 mins, 11.6 km/h
Canal latéral à l’Aisne, PK 0.0 – 18.3 ––– 18.3 km, total 233.2 km (waterways 203.2 km)
Canal latéral also a hostile, jungle-like towpath, relief to reach Berry-au-Bac
19/05/17 Berry-au-Bac – Ecluse 4 Alger
4.7 km in 60 mins, 4.7 km/h
Canal de l’Aisne à la Marne, PK 0 – 4.7 ––– 4.7 km, total 237.9 km (waterways 207.9 km)
On board with lone navigator Keith Wellham on Fabutu, passing through 4 locks, welcome relief for us cyclists. Keith’s ‘preferred landscape’ when out of the valley with open views across the fields
19/05/17 Ecluse 4 Alger – Reims
19.9 km in 80 mins, 14.9 km/h
Canal Aisne-Marne, PK 4.7 – 23.4 ––– 18.7 km, total 257.8  km (waterways 226.6 km)
At last a decent towpath! Urbanites out in numbers as Reims approached. commercial traffic, this was possibly to be upgraded to grand gabarit
20/05/17 Reims Mont-de-Billy tunnel North portal
27.8 km in 101 mins, 16.5 km/h
Canal Aisne-Marne, PK 23.4 – 46.5 –––  23.1 km, total 285.6 km (waterways 249.7 km)
Mostly good condition. Sillery attractive harbour. bread and cheese in the shade before continuing up to the tunnel, tracks of electric mules
20/05/17 Mont-de-Billy tunnel
2.3 km in 50 mins, 2.8 km/h
Canal Aisne-Marne, PK 46.5 – 48.8 ––– 2.3 km, total 287.9 km (waterways 252.0 km)
Walking bikes through the tunnel, disapproved by tunnel-keeper Marie-Claude at south portal, passage had Padraic fighting against panic
20/05/17 Mont-de-Billy tunnel South portal – Condé-sur-Marne
10.9 km in 36 mins, 18.2 km/h
Canal Aisne-Marne, PK 48.8 – 58.1 ––– 9.3 km, total 298.8 km (waterways 261.3 km)
Smooth run down the flight of locks. fastest segment of tour! Last café in Condé (not wanting to work) and electric mule at lock
20/05/17 Condé-sur-Marne – Châlons-en-Champagne
16.4 km in 57 mins, 17.3 km/h
Canal latéral à la Marne, PK 48.4 – 32.1 ––– 16.3 km, total 315.2 km (waterways 275.6 km)
Good fast run. some grassy sections but all smooth. again urbanites out in numbers on approach to Châlons. David & Evelyn on Escapade
21/05/17 Château-Thierry – La Ferté-sous-Jouarre
39.1 km in 183 mins, 12.8 km/h
Marne, PK 50.4 – 90.4 ––– 40.0 km, total 354.3 km (waterways 317.6 km)
Short cuts taken, hence cycling distance too short in this section. will try to get back here. Shocking attempts to privatise path.
21/05/17 Meaux station – Meaux hotel
2.5 km in 13 mins, 11.5 km/h
Canal de l’Ourcq, PK 48.8 – 47.3 ––– 1.5 km, total 356.8 km (waterways 319.1 km)
Short length of canal in Meaux, very hot evening
22/05/17 Meaux – Paris 2e
52.6 km in 227 mins, 13.9 km/h
Canal de l’Ourcq, PK 47.3 – 0.0 ––– 47.3 km, total 409.4 km (waterways 366.4)
Delightful canal, péniche-guinguette Le Chat qui Pêche has to order food in advance! No go. Commercial traffic, deep-laden barges from Pantin

STAGE TWO – BRIARE TO NEVERS

26/05/17 Briare (gare) Châtillon – L’Étang
14.7 km in 59 mins, 14.9 km/h
Canal latéral à la Loire (Châtillon branch), PK 3.9 – 0.0 ––– 3.9 km, total 424.1 km (waterways 370.3 km)
Digue de l’Escargot and Mantelots basin. then Châtillon branch
26/05/17 Châtillon – L’Etang Saint-Satur
44.8 km in 161 mins, 16.7 km/h
Canal latéral à la Loire, PK 184.7 – 179.5 and 164.3 – 159.5 ––– 6.0 km, total 468.9 km (waterways 376.3 km)
Short lengths included in Loire à vélo itinerary, will be back to cover the rest
27/05/17 Saint-Satur – Le Guétin
65.4 km in 262 mins, 15.0 km/h
Canal latéral à la Loire, PK 125.3 – 124.0 and 116.2 – 112.6 ––– 4.9 km, total 534.3 km (waterways 381.2 km)
Again a short length only. from Marseilles-les-Aubigny to Cuffy
28/05/17 Le Guétin – Nevers
15.3 km in 62 mins, 14.8 km/h
Canal latéral à la Loire (+ Nevers branch), PK 110.7 – 104.0 and 0.0 – 2.8 ––– 9.5 km, total 549.6 km (waterways 390.7 km)
Le Guétin double staircase lock and aqueduct over the Allier are spectacular, and attractive path in winding section of canal

STAGE THREE – AUXERRE TO JOIGNY

15/06/17 Laroche-Migennes – Auxerre
24.8 km in 86 mins, 17.3 km/h
Yonne, PK 22.3 – 0 ––– 22.3 km, total 574.4 km (waterways 413.0 km)
Delightful evening run after meeting Simon Evans at Migennes, idyllic moorings, path rough in places, Monéteau very pretty (run-down café)
17/06/17 Auxerre – Joigny
32.8 km in 117 mins, 16.8 km/h
Yonne, PK 22.3 – 31.6 ––– 9.3 km, total  607.2 km (waterways 422.3km)
Some lengths single trail almost choked by vegetation, picnic at peaceful Epineau lock, ending Port des Maillotins, Locaboat base and offices  

STAGE FOUR – ANGERS TO SAINT-NAZAIRE

16/08/17 Angers – Béhuard
16.2 km in 90 mins, 10.9 km/h
Rivers Maine and Loire, PK 124.4 – 133.7 and 0 – 4.6 ––– 13.9 km, total 674.5 km (waterways 438.4 km)
Angers lock on the left bank, not right (long-standing error in IWF)! Broad river sees little use apart from the occasional passenger boat
16/08/17 Béhuard – Savennières
2.2 km in 9 mins, 14.7 km/h
Loire, PK 4.6 – 5.1 ––– 0.5 km, total 676.7 km (waterways 438.9 km)
16/08/17 Savennières – Chalonnes-sur-Loire
12.8 km in 51 mins, 15.2 km/h
Loire 5.1 – 14.6 ––– 9.5 km, total 689.5 km (waterways 448.4 km)
16/08/17 Chalonnes-sur-Loire – Montjean-sur-Loire
9.7 km in 37 mins, 15.9 km/h
Loire, PK 14.6 – 23.6 ––– 699.2 9.0 457.4
16/08/17 Montjean-sur-Loire – Saint-Florent-le-Vieil
13.6 km in 49 mins, 16.7 km/h
Loire, PK 23.6 – 36.9 ––– 13.3 km, total 712.8 km (waterways 470.7 km)
17/08/17 Saint-Florent-le-Vieil – Ancenis
15.4 km in 49 mins, 18.9 km/h
Loire, PK 36.9 – 49.6 ––– 12.7 km, total 728.2 km (waterways 483.4 km)
17/08/17 Ancenis – Oudon
9.7 km in 35 mins, 16.9 km/h
Loire, PK 49.6 – 58.6 ––– 9.0 km, total 737.9 km (waterways 492.4 km)
17/08/17 Oudon – Mauves-sur-Loire
14.7 km in 56 mins, 15.8 km/h
Loire, PK 58.6 – 67.8 ––– 9.2 km, total 752.6 km (waterways 501.6 km)
17/08/17 Mauves-sur-Loire – Nantes
21.4 km in 92 mins, 14.0 km/h
Loire, PK 67.8 – 84.0 ––– 6.2 km, total 774.0 km (waterways 507.8 km)
20/08/17 Nantes – Bouguenais
13.7 km in 53 mins, 15.5 km/h
Loire estuary, PK 84.0 – 91.3 ––– 7.3 km, total 787.7 km (waterways 515.1 km)
20/08/17 Bouguenais – Indre
10.4 km in 42 mins, 15.0 km/h
Loire estuary, PK 91.3 – 95.0 ––– 3.7 km, total 798.1 km (waterways 518.8 km)
20/08/17 Indre – La Martinière (lock)
11.4 km in 44 mins, 15.5 km/h
Loire estuary, PK 95.0 – 103.5 ––– 8.5 km, total 809.5 km (waterways 527.3 km)
20/08/17 La Martinière (lock) – Paimbœuf
22.7 km in 75 mins, 18.3 km/h
Loire estuary, PK 103.5 – 125.0 ––– 11.5 km, total 832.2 (waterways 538.8 km)
20/08/17 Paimbœuf – Corset
5.4 km in 29 mins, 11.4 km/h
Loire estuary, PK 125.0 – 128.0 ––– 3.0 km, total 837.6 km (waterways 541.8 km)
21/08/17 Corsept – Saint-Nazaire
13.8 in 43 mins, 19.5 km/h
Loire estuary, PK 128.0 – 138.0 ––– 10.0 km, total 851.4 km (waterways 551.8 km)

Archive ‘Imagine the course’ of the London Marathon, posted 2015

course-london

Motivation comes in part from visualising how the race will unfold, the successive landscapes and atmospheres, and of course the undulations and twists in the terrain. Running for waterways, I couldn’t help but identify the 12 canal, dock and river crossings. Here, for the fun, is my little inventory:
Km 11.5 – Deptford Creek, but the tide will be on the ebb, more mud than water
Km 17.3 – Site of entrance lock to Surrey Docks, with Timber Basin on the south side
Km 19.4 – New Concordia Wharf, a typical tidal Thames creek
Km 20.0 – Cross the Thames on Tower Bridge (it will be low tide at 12:50)
Km 23.2 – Entrance lock to Limehouse Basin and the Regents Canal, beside the headquarters of the Cruising Association
Km 28.4 – The head of Millwall Inner Dock
Km 29.2 – The former entrance lock to West India South Dock
Km 29.5 – Heron Quay, and a short junction canal built as part of the Canary Wharf Docklands development, between the former West India South Dock and Export Dock
Km 31.2 – Another junction canal between two of the former docks, under the towering blocks of Canary Wharf, the new City of London
Km 31.4 – Historic junction between Blackwell Dock and West India Import Dock
Km 33.7 – Limehouse Cut (from the Regents Canal to the River Lea Navigation)
Km 34.1 – Regents Canal

Click on the map to see it full screen, map by courtesy of the Virgin Money London Marathon web site, using Google Maps (assembled from several screen shots).

Running for the Inland Waterways Association! Please sponsor me, to fund their work to conserve, maintain and restore hundreds of kilometres of Britain’s canal and river navigations.

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