We are back in Dole, moored up on the edge of this incredibly pretty Jura town, having spent a glorious week on the Canal du Rhone au Rhin and its alter ago the River Doubs. The kingfishers had been more numerous than the boats, and we had spent the journey feeling like Franche-Comté had unfolded just for us - from canal, to pasture, through wild, steep-sided valleys and on into the city of Besancon.
On collecting our craft a week before, there had been a queue of would-be aquatic adventurers, but that was the last we saw of them. The particular stretch we had chosen to explore was not widely considered suitable for novice cruisers, and the autumnal timing could have created challenging ﬂuctuations in water levels. Perhaps the others were erring more on the side of caution in choosing one of the other waterways out of the town.
Leaving Dole armed with an electronic gadget to open the canal’s automatic locks, we assumed that the going would be straightforward and maybe less energetic than our previous trip along the River Charente, even allowing for the fact that there were roughly three times as many locks along our route. Surely automated = easier, right? Taking it
sedater to start with, as we got used to the handling of our home for the week, we passed along the arrow-straight canal, tree-lined and home to well-used towpaths.