Cruising the Canal du Midi
Fully recovered from our encounter with the steel hulled tourist barge we have now moved on from Colombiers and reached Port la Robine, a bit over a quarter of the way on the journey to Castelnaudary. Weather has been exceptional, clear blue skies with mid 20 degrees temperatures. Only issue has been a strong wind which blows the boat about a bit. After leaving the Fonserannes locks we have 54 km of canal without locks, just gliding along between the Flame trees that line the Canal banks. These trees are are having to be cut down because of disease which is a great shame. There is a big environmental campaign being implemented to replace them progressively over the next 20 years with a variety of other species. There are about 40,000 of them along the length of the canal to be dealt with. So it is a big job.
Part way along we have gone through the Malpas Tunnel, a one way traverse of 160 metres. The are actually 3 tunnels here on top of each other, the Canal, under that a modern rail tunnel and below that a drainage tunnel that takes water from an agricultural area that is actually a dried up lake bed. This tunnel predates the Canal tunnel. Quite a complex set up. To top it off on the top of the hill under which the tunnel go are the remnants of the Domitian Way. This was a road route linking Spain and Italy built by the Romans in the first century (I think, might have been the second). We climbed to the top of the hill and took in the scenery and the information centre. The lady here was so helpful in explaining the set up that the Watts presented her with one of their mini stuffed Koalas. She was quite pleased!
At Port la Robine we tied up on the bank at the entrance to the port looking back across the water to the bridge we passed under. Had dinner on the top deck overlooking this scene as the sun slowly sank into the horizon. It was about 9.30 pm and we had another half hour of twilight before heading for bed.