Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kortrijk, Wervik and the Return to France June 19-24

In our previous visit to Kortrijk (Odysseus blog 2008) work had just been completed on the north side of town with the skateboard park and the three bridge complex uniting the main part of Kortrijk with Buda Island and the other side of the river. Work then continued on the center section of the main canal through town and barge traffic was restricted to one way. We found a pleasant spot to stay on the arm of the river that cuts around Buda Island. We found the halte again this year. The temperature was supposed to get into the mid 90’s for the next few days and we needed to find some shade.


A nice shady spot during the hot weather. That’s us off to the left.

Work on the main canal has been completed but all that heavy equipment has now moved onto the arm of the river that creates the island and the jackhammers were starting very early in the morning; like before 6. Luckily we were just far enough away that it wasn’t completely annoying but it must be hell for the residents who live nearby.


The poster below the ancient gate tower shows what the waterfront will look like when the work is done.

But this is what it looks like now looking from the watchtower bridge back into town..

Besides the construction along the river front, massive amounts of work were going on in town. One technique, which we saw many times, was to preserve just the facade of a building, propping it up while an entirely new building is built attached to it.

Really, there is so much construction happening all over Belgium that we have decided this is a picture of the state bird, the Belgian crane.

This view was from our mooring in Ghent.

and it’s mating call is the banging of the jackhammer.

The heat was supposed to break on Thursday so in the morning we left the shade and headed off toward Wervik. We’d chosen that spot because it supposedly had a good place to tie up and was an easy bike ride to Ypres (Ieper in Flemish). We had visited the town by bicycle from the north on our last Belgian trip. This time we wanted to bike though the major part of the Ypres Salient, which is south of town and one of the most important battle sites of WW I.

We found a very nice wall to tie up at the Wervik Yacht Club and Friday morning, into the teeth of some pretty strong winds, biked the 20 K through the battlefield sites to Ypres. Along with the wind came something we haven’t experienced much in our Flanders bike rides, elevation. We had some hills to climb!

Unfortunately, when we arrived in Ypres we discovered the entire center and much of the outskirts taken over by the Flanders road rally that was taking place Saturday and Sunday. The entire main square was filled with tents covering the mechanics workshops and hospitality rooms for the major race car manufacturers. The less high dollar teams were scattered throughout town so we had a sausage and frites lunch and headed back to Wervick. Luckily heading back was with the wind at our backs, mostly following the route of the unfortunate Ieper-Komen Canal. Four times, beginning in the 1860’s, attempts was made to join the Ieper and Lys Rivers only to be defeated by the complicated geology and the one big hill in the way. By the early 1900’s many of the locks, lock houses and pumping stations were in place but then WW I intervened and, because of damage (the canal ran right through the middle of the Salient), the canal was never used. What’s left of the waterway now runs though the Provinciedomein Palingbeek, which contains some of the most iconic battle sites, among them The Bluff, Hill 60 and Caterpillar Crater. 

Back in Wervik, after a beer at the bar next to the brick windmill (molen) and the Tobacco Museum (this area was/is the center of Belgium’s tobacco farming) we returned to the boat for a rest.

Tomorrow we would be underway to reenter France!

No comments:

Post a Comment