Chateaulin

It’s a bit shocking when your records let you down so I’m going to say we went to Chateaulin in 1973 plus or minus a year. We went camping with friends who kindly provided us with a very cheap holiday in Brittany.

We stayed in several locations of which Chateaulin is the best remembered because we settled there for a while.

It’s a pretty place – a small town on the River Aulne which doubles up at this point as the canal between Brest and Nantes, It’s that river/canal that this post is about.

Chateaulin has a lock.

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This is a big, broad lock, quite unlike those tiddly 7 feet wide locks on much of the UK network. This could take a large barge carrying a worthwhile load. Having said that, commercial traffic was pretty well absent.

In the UK we expect a nice hefty balance beam, to rest on whilst the lock fills and then to push on at the appropriate time. Over the channel we seemed to get a pole to pull with.

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Yes, that’s me pulling on the pole. Just one slip would see me tumbling backwards into the river, beyond.

The paddle gear was quite un-English as well. There are no open cogwheels or rack and pinion. There’s just a covered red box with a rack passing through it.

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Of course, we had no windlass so that was left well alone – as it would have been anyway.

The river, alongside, tumbles over a man-made weir.

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There’s a sluice to help control water levels in the event of the river being in spate.

The totally up to date Wikipedia records that Chateaulin is a major place in the salmon business. No wonder a fish ladder was provided to enable the salmon, heading upstream to spawn, to overcome the change in levels caused by man’s interference. When the navigation was built, the gentle flow of the river down to the wild Atlantic had to be converted into a series of weirs and locks to maintain a depth of water for boats. But the salmon, which can actually manage prodigious jumps, were not forgotten.

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There’s a series of easily managed jumps for salmon, alongside the weir.

All photos were taken on my little Canon demi using Agfachrome 64 slide film.

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