I didn’t do my research properly for the blog going down to Port de la Nouvelle. I regret that I used the names Canal de la Robine and Embranchement de Nouvelle interchangeably and incorrectly!
So let’s put that right. Narbonne is key. A mixture of Romans digging a channel to connect Narbonne to the sea, and a need for water from the Aude for Narbonne during the Middle Ages resulted in what became the canal de la Robine. A further 5 kms was required to link this, north of the Aude, to the Canal du Midi. When this was built it was named Canal de Jonction. The two together are known as the Nouvelle branch, or Embranchement de La Nouvelle.
When I returned from the Greek wedding Stewart and Calliope were still at Gua lock and mill, north of Narbonne, so we still had 8 kms of Canal de Robine before the Aude crossing and into Canal du Jonction.
We accomplished this easily in a short morning’s cruise, arriving in Sallèles-d’Aude in time for lunch.
On the way we saw several Azure Winged Magpies -sensational, unexpected, thrilling! But no chance of a photo, so bird book must suffice.
The crossing of the Aude, past the weir, upstream, and a sharp right turn into the Canal de Jonction had the usual frisson and gentle tension of the unusual, with all going well. We are now truly ‘up the Junction’.
Then Gailhousty lock, with its dry dock to the side of the mostly unused lower lock, and it’s maddeningly scenic steps, plants, angles.
We moored up in Sallèles-d”Aude for a couple of days, allowing time for a restock at the 7 Écluses wine cave, rekindling of friendships on Papyrus and Escapade, and a bird watching walk back down to the river.
The lock at Sallèles is quite deep – deeper than it says in the navigation book – and deep enough to have, and need, poles down the side of the lock walls for batteliers to slide their ropes up and down.
Once more we did not manage to photograph anything exciting, but I will share with you my shadowy images of crested lark, swallow and nightingale!
Captain Stu was able to take in the full extent of L’Aude weir from the firm footing of a salmon jump grid!
On the second evening it began to rain, and rain, and pour with rain. This did not dim the night-time lighting of our neighbours boat!
By next morning the skies had cleared and we steamed off for our final 4 kms of the Jonction. It is a very straight stretch, pleasant, and with 5 self-operated locks – all very similar except the last one, Cesse, which has there only operations bourne of its kind I have seen!
Our final excitement was seeing a HUGE barge reversing through the little bridge we were aiming for, where Midi and Jonction meet. Luckily he was a skilful skipper with a boat load of school kids, and manoeuvred in to moor on the bank and let us past.
Then good-bye Jonction – we have reached the junction with the Midi, and a wide sweeping turn to starboard took us on our way.
Of course I should be ending this chapter now, with the end of the Jonction, but to finish the week off I will just let you know that we had a hectic half hour wiggling round two bends that included a narrow bridge, a narrow aqueduct, lots of moored boats, two big barges coming towards us, and two relatively idiotic holiday boats in front of us. Captain Calm negotiated all.
We moored up 3 kilometres further on, at La Somail, and settled down to finish our week in a delightful mooring just below the famous bridge.
The weather moved from sun to storm and back again over the next few hours, the bridge transformed against the skies.
Another wonderful week, and plenty more to come.