The day started at least dry if not exactly fine and bright, and after the solid rain of the previous day, many of the boats who had taken refuge in the city were on the move again. Three went ahead of us downstream, and we gave them what we thought was a reasonable headstart. We were therefore surprised to find the third one waiting for us in the first lock, and the first two waiting for us both at the next one. The manual locks were under the control of just one lock-keeper and downstream of Amiens were of an unusual double chamber design, with the lower section having sloped sides. The purpose of this design was not apparent to start with, especially as at Montières the central gates were missing, and access to the second basin was restricted to an air draught of little over a metre, meaning that the whole basin had to be manually filled and emptied by the solitary lockkeeper, whilst still only allowing two boats to lock through at a time.

  • Aground (again) on the lock sill at Picquigny
  • The village moorings are popular with fishermen
  • Late victims of the great war rest at Pont-Remy

We were stopped at Picquigny for the navigational lunch break and when eventually our turn came, the lock-keeper started proceedings by asking us our draught. We gave him our normal answer of 'about a metre' and thought little more of it. It was only when we saw the level in the lock drop to less than 3 feet on our echo sounder that we began to be suspicious, and then as we passed the central gates discovered a sill dividing the two lock pounds. With the depth gauge reading 1.2m , the sound of our keel scraping across the sill indicated that either we had more than a metre draught, or their depth gauge was up the creek. The downstream sections of the lock are designed to pass larger draught vessels whilst minimising loss of water through the system. The archaic three gated design, combined with their still manual operation, is highly labour intensive and by the end of the day we had up to seven orange clad attendants busily winding away at lock gates and sluices.

Most boats seemed to be heading for Abbeville, or even St Valery, but we opted for a quiet village mooring at a place called Pont-Rémy. The Navicarte indicated a host facilities which were no longer in evidence, but there was a bin-bag clad electricity and water supply which may yet see service in the future.

Thunder clouds threatened as we moored up and by the time we had embarked on our customary bike ride to see what was going on, the heavens had opened and we treated the villagers to the obviously hilarious sight of us cycling round in the torrential rain in our all-over Dutch rain capes. There was just time before the worst of it arrived to reach the top of the hill where a tiny British military cemetery holds a handful of graves from 1918-1919. With many of these dated after Armistice day we couldn't imagine what unfortunate circumstance had led to their demise so late in the day in this out of the way corner of France. [Post note: Pont-Remy British Cemetery was established by casualty clearing stations and hospitals posted to the area in 1918-1919.]

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