Thursday, June 23, 2016


Considering how behind schedule we have been for much of this trip, it has been really rather rewarding to have a few days of doing exactly what we planned.

On Wednesday morning we left Arzal around 10am for the short hop to La Roche-Bernard. This is the honeypot of the Vilaine, a medieval mini-city on top of a rock with a Vieux Port and modern marina on the Vilaine river. Inevitably perhaps it is full of Brits, with 25% of the boats moored here and a good chunk of the motorhomes in the campsite all belonging to British people. We arrived around 11, in plenty of time to get a berth on the visitors' pontoon. Wednesday was HOT, and i spent much of the day dripping with sweat, which was a bit of a shock. We also had a number of thunderstorms passing by, some of which passed with just a rumble and some black clouds, and some which stopped to dump lots of water on us. We don't usually bother with the cockpit tent when we only stop for one night but on this occasion we were very glad of the additional shelter. I also gave the inflatable kayak a bit of exercise and before getting heated by cooking actually went for a swim. (The water was 22.5ºC which is well above my benchmark).

La Roche-Bernard has one major flaw as far as Sam is concerned and that is the Roche bit. From port level it's a very steep climb by path or road to get to the town, most of which is on a slope. So instead we took the petit train on a scenic tour, including the view from the 1960 suspension bridge, and slightly to his surprise Sam really enjoyed it.

I enquired about leaving the boat during the summer, and not surprisingly the only option is on a mooring. As our friends who hope to use the boat as a holiday cottage may be accompanied by a lady recovering from a cartilage transplant, jumping in and out of a dinghy is clearly not an option. It might also be a tiny snag for Sam.

Up betimes today, as the main constraint between La Roche-Bernard and Redon is the opening bridge at Cran. It opens at 1030, 1130 and 1400 (and other times not of interest to us). As Simon needed to be on a train to Nantes by 1423 we wanted to make quite sure we didn't get stuck on the wrong side of the bridge. We cast off just before 0800, arrived at the bridge about 1015, loitered successfully in 0kt of wind and 0kt of current (what a treat) and were through the bridge by 1036. Then on up to Redon. The Vilaine reminded us of the Saône and was equally empty with stunning skies and reflections.

Kalessin in Redon
The marina at Redon is not really picturesque, with the visitors' berths adjoining the main road, and the capitainerie about 50m away across the channel and about 10 minutes' walk by going all the way up to the lock into the Nantes-Brest canal, across the road, and back down the other side. However, the berth is also less than 10 minutes' walk from the Gare SNCF which is Redon's main attraction for us, and by the evening (at 1830), the traffic on the road has already quietened down.

Simon and I walked to the station and obtained his ticket for today and also a ticket for me for tomorrow. I plan to leave appallingly early to go to Roscoff, collect the car, and hopefully return by lunchtime so Sam is not on his own and awake and bored for too long. At least the car will then be in a better corner of Brittany and close to transport links. Robin should arrive on Sunday or Monday and then we can make plans for going further south for a bit.

Simon got as far as Nantes with no sign of rail strikes. Sadly however the air traffic controllers' strike then struck, and he is in a hotel in Nantes at easyJet's expense, waiting for a flight hopefully tomorrow. One more benefit of EU membership which we could lose if today's vote is for Brexit - as we know all too well having paid for three nights' hotel on Guernsey when our flights were disrupted by snow. Aurigny is not an EU airline and our flight did not start in the EU, so no free hotel for us. Rant over. Simon probably couldn't have got home anyway as the line from Liverpool Street to Diss is currently disrupted by flooding.

Simon said he really enjoyed with his week with us, hooray! Possibly nearly as much as we enjoyed having his company. He has promised to write a guest blog post on his thoughts, so watch this space.

Failed bollard in Redon

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