Anjodi, cruising along the Canal du Midi, painting by Stanley 


Hello ,

welcome to the September edition of the lock-keeper.

We have another few months of the 2004 season to go folks, and life is busy on the European waterways.

In this month's lock-keeper, we announce the winner of our La Dolce Vita Venice cruise competition. It was fun running this one, and many of you obviously enjoyed finding the answers. We hope you liked the information and the photo galleries of Venice, the Lagoon and the barge itself.

We have an interesting article by another Malt Whisky winner, Steve Goch who also happened to be cruising on the Scottish Highlander. Steve wrote about his visit to Scotland and to compliment his story, we have a virtual tour of Glenfinnan.

Our September competition takes us back to Burgundy. We give you the low-down on cruising in this wonderful region of France and we have some Burgundy wine to give away.

There are various news items and offers, so, please read on and enjoy the September lock-keeper.

I look forward to hearing from you, and seeing you at our website, where you can find out all about GoBarging and keep up to date with the latest news as it breaks....

please read on and welcome aboard,

best regards,

Derek Banks, Chairman

Derek Banks - Chairman

in this issue:




Dolce Vita


back issues:

january 04

february 04

march 04

april 04

may 04

june 04

july 04

August 04

(please note that past competitions are now closed)

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Steve Goch article
Our Classic Malt Whisky competition Winner Steve Goch, told the Lockkeeper;

Steve and Sally Goch on cruise'My wife Sally, who is retired, and I worked in the aerospace industry, where we met and married 29 years ago. We have lived in the San Fernando Valley in California since then.

I work for a multinational company as the Program Manager on the new Airbus A380's fire detection system.

We have discovered that cruising fits our lifestyle perfectly, and try to do a few a year. We have worked our way down in size from the QE2 to river cruise ships, and finally to the Scottish Highlander which we enjoyed immensely.

Our next cruises will take us to the Caribbean where I will be exploring Mayan ruins, and in February we will cruise to Antarctica. We are both scotch drinkers, and my wife has acquired a taste for single malts, especially for the Oban 14 that was presented to me on the Scottish Highlander - Thanks GoBarging.'

Some highlights of Steve's Scottish Highlander adventure.......
Caledonian Canal Cruise: August 2004

It started as some of our trips do, with Sally asking a simple question. She asked if there were any river cruises in England. I just happened to have a brochure for European River Barges in our bookcase, and after looking at the itinerary, we thought it would be a nice thing to do.

The Scottish Highlander is small enough to negotiate the locks, and has a complement of 8 passengers and 4 crew. The barge sails down the Caledonian Canal from Inverness to Fort William. The canal itself was built in the 1800's to allow fishing boats to go from one coast of Scotland to the other without having to go around the northern tip where the weather was bad.
I am interested in trains, and one of the most picturesque trips is the West Highland Line that goes from Fort William to Mallaig on the West Coast of Scotland. The highlight is passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct near Fort William.

The viaduct, with its 23 concrete arches, and the steam train 'the Jacobite' recently featured in the
Harry Potter movies.

click here for a 360 virtual tour of Glenfinnan

We had an afternoon flight from LA to London Heathrow, then a flight from Gatwick direct to Inverness - the pick-up point for the Highlander. We arrived a day early, so I dug out my Single Malt Scotch books, and found a distillery named Glenmorangie just north of Inverness. I got on their web site and got directions and train schedules.

Glemorangie stills - the highest in ScotlandThe next morning I headed out to the train station to catch the train to Tain, where the Glenmorangie distillery was located. I arrived at the distillery, and they had my name down for the 12:30 tour.

It was quite interesting, and this distillery has the highest stills in Scotland. After the tour we were taken to the tasting room to taste some of the product. Since I had tasted most of their products, I opted for a scotch that had been matured in casks that had held Burgundy wine, and liked it quite a bit.

The next day we moved our luggage to the Glenmorriston Hotel to be picked up for the cruise. While waiting in the lounge, we met 2 fellow passengers, Mike and Mary Beth, who were from Florida, and we hit it off with them. I turned out they had worked for a company that made amateur radio equipment, and since I was a "ham" radio operator, I was quite familiar with it. We met the other two couples, Ken and Char and Dick and Pat, who were friends and were from the Chicago area. We were then met by Kirsten, who would be our driver and guide during the trip.

The Scottish Highlander moored overnight below Urquhart castleThe trip to Fort William from Inverness was to be about 2 hours, so we broke it up in the middle by visiting Urquhart Castle. When Sally and I toured the castle over 10 years ago, there was just a little trailer that sold tickets and a paper guidebook. There was now a visitor center, with elevator, and a large gift shop. The castle was as we remembered, and I toured the various parts of it, including the tower.

We were then take to Fort William to board the Scottish Highlander. We were greeted by Geoff the skipper, Davina the housekeeper, and last but certainly not least, Tommy our chef. After our champagne welcome, I was presented with a bottle of Oban 14 year old malt, my lockkeeper competition prize.

After getting settled in our cabin, which was more spacious than I had expected, we had a briefing from Geoff about our plans for the next day. He had a super map of the canal, and being a collector of maps, I was greatly interested in it. He explained where we would be going the following day, and what we would see.

We then sat at the dining area table for dinner, and Tommy came out and explained what he had prepared, and the wines that would accompany the meal. I also noticed that they were carrying some 10 single malts, and never having tasted some of them, I planned to sample them during the cruise.

Glencoe - scene of the massacre of the MacDonaldsThe next morning we set out with Kirsten driving and acting as our guide. Our first stop was at Glen Coe, called the "Vale of Weeping" because of the massacre of the MacDonalds while they were sleeping. The worst part of this was it happened after they had given their hospitality to the people who killed them.

From there we were taken to Loch Sheil, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard to unite the clans against the English. There is a monument in the form of a tower with a figure of him at the top. We then climbed a hill on a 30 degree footpath that reversed itself half way to the top. Upon reaching the top, there was a great view of the Glenfinnan Viaduct! Unfortunately, we had to leave before the Jacobite steam train would pass over it.

We then returned to the barge for a great lunch and dinner. Before every meal Tommy would come out of the galley and tell us what the appetizer, main course, cheeses and wines would be. At the end of the cruise we were presented with a paper that listed all the meals, wines and cheeses that we were served!

the Commando memorial at Spean BridgeLater, we went to the Commando Memorial in Spean Bridge. This was an area used during the war to train commandos. There was also a Commando Museum nearby where the Victoria Cross citations were displayed. The Victoria Cross is the equivalent of our Medal of Honor.

Too soon, on Saturday, after our last meal on the barge, (sob) we were taken to the Inverness train station. Sally summed up the trip by saying," I am only sorry I do not have this trip to look forward to".

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Burgundy cruising

belle epoque cruising in Burgundy
Ok, so you are considering one of our Go Barging holidays and the thought of spending six glorious days cruising gently down some of Europe's finest selection of waterways really is just too much to resist. There's just one problem! Where to go..?

This is an insider's short guide to one of our most popular cruise routes.We will start where it all began....Burgundy.

The majority of Burgundy's canal network was constructed in the 17th and 18th century as the means to link up the traditional trading rivers with the major towns further down stream. In 200 years over 3000 miles of man-made waterway was built forming a web which today criss crosses some of the finest scenery found in central France.

the belle epoque crew look after your every needYour crew are mainly english, every one speaks english as well as french. Nick Jones the Captain is an ex soldier , member of Equity, the Actors union, and a qualified french barge pilot - a rare combination which readies him for the hustle and bustle of barge life.

Phillipe our chef is french, passionate about his work, from the market purchases to the little refinements and touches along the way which distinguish him from the rest of the pack. As well as knowing his cuisine, he knows his wines and this knowledge ensures a perfect match.

Darren our deckhand driver/guide knows every shortcut, parking space and visit our cruise has to offer. He's a careful driver who has worked for us in Scotland and also the South of France.

Trudi and Juliana are our two charming housekeepers, house proud, hardworking and vigilant, together they complete the picture. All the crew are hard working and professional. They work long hours and always seem to make that extra effort which ensures your holiday really is perfect.
Our Lower Nivernais cruise on La Belle Epoque brings you in direct contact with everything that Burgundy has to offer: Fine wines, vineyards, small villages and towns with cobbled winding streets, rolling hills with white Charolais cattle, medieval architecture, Vezelay's sacred bazilique and much much more.

We hub on Chablis for the wine, visiting St Bris and Bailly, where the technique's are explained and there is a mouth-watering tasting of several wines from the premier and grand crus down to the noble everyday wines which the locals rarely let escape!

laze on the belle 

epoque deck and watch the world go byWe cruise along at walking pace, usually for about 4-5 hours cruising a day, allowing plenty of time to put a bike ashore at a lock or just stroll, keeping the vessel in sight if you wish. For the less energetic, our teak, deck furniture allows a raised view across the passing scenery into the glades, and small forests and villages we drift slowly by.

We visit the hilltop town of VezelayDaily excursions take us into the real Burgundy: Auxerre, on the first day introduces you to shops which still specialise in everything French. a collection of cathedral and churches overlooking the river and bridges which link both halves of this vibrant town. Vezelay's magnificent setting high above the Morvan hills has the basilique of Mary Magdalene, stunning stained glass and a unique position above the rows of craft shops leading up to the massive oak doors of the main chapel.

Our trip to Marechal Vauban's Bazoches chateau is an opportunity to study his inventions and defensive engineering feats which protected France for centuries.

belle epoque cruises though some magnificent scenery in BurgundyCuisine aboard La Belle Epoque is legendary and quotes abound. Suffice to say that the Flagship of the Gobarging fleet leads from the front when it comes to excellent cooking. You will not be disappointed.

La Belle Epoque's interior has been designed to embrace as many aspects of passenger comfort as we can. From the marble bathrooms to the comfortable sofas, from fully sprung, full-size mattresses to the sauna and Jacuzzi.

belle epoque saloon - magnificently 

appointedAt 126 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 8 inches La Belle Epoque is a tight squeeze in, around and under the many obstacles which a cruise along the Nivernais canal and Yonne river encounters. However, your captain is an accomplished barge master, assisted by his very able crew of 4 he navigates this impressive canal barge with just inches to spare through the stone locks and bridges and around the bends.

If we take all the aspects a cruise on
La Belle Epoque has to offer, the end result is simple. For the experienced voyager, or a first timer who wants the best. Look no further............

Burgundy wine competition

fine Burgundy winesHopefully we have given you a taste for Burgundy cruising, so let us give you a taste of Burgundy with our September competition.

You could win a case or two of fine Burgundy wines.

All you have to do is visit our
Burgundy wine competition page, follow our usual competition trail,answer a few simple questions and enter the competition. Good luck...

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La Dolce Vita
August competition

La Dolce Vita cruises past 

Venice and the famous Piazza San Marco with its Campanile bell towerWe had a great new competition for August. To help us celebrate, you could win a cruise for two on La Dolce Vita, cruising the Venice Lagoon, during season 2005.

All you had to do was visit our La Dolce Vita competition page, visit our new GoBarging Venice gallery, answer a few simple questions and enter the competition.

Now find out
who's won..?

Next article here.... back to top

Magna Carta usually operates from early April to early November but we now are pleased to introduce Winter and Early Spring Cruises with cruises from 14th November 2004 to 27th March 2005.

These cruises are now available for charter groups or individual passengers. She is also offering a 5 day Christmas cruise and 10 day Christmas & New Year Cruise . Prices for all departures (excluding the Christmas Cruise) are $2890 per person based on 2 people sharing a suite and charters from $19,650. Magna Carta's 5 day Christmas cruise charter costs $34980 and the 10 day Christmas & New Year 10 nights Cruise can be chartered from $63,600

Actief are offering - Book one person and a Second Person sharing receives 50% discount - on departure dates 26th September and 3rd October 2004

Try our 6 week Trans European Cruise departing 6th November 2005 to 17th December 2005 from Avignon to Amsterdam on board our luxury hotel barge L'Impressionniste. Available for charter groups of 8-12 passengers or individual bookings, subject to availability.

Although time is short, we are still very keen to fill the last two cabins on our Meanderer "Barge and Learn French week" from 24th October to 30th October, 2004.

At present, we have all single ladies booked in so the week is especially suitable for single lady travellers - we have one twin/double cabin available and one shared cabin available. The remaining space in the shared cabin is available for just $2345 fully inclusive whilst the twin /double is priced at just $4690. The price includes a full week of cruising, learning French, food, wine, open bar and private Paris transfer.

The format for the beginners weeks will be similar to our regular program but will include a daily session of around two and a half hours tuition with a professional tutor aboard Meanderer. The tutor will also accompany the guests on their excursions and encourage them to use the French they have learned. Books and training notes will be provided and are included in the price. Contact sales to book your place.

If you have any suggestions, feedback or barging stories to tell us, then please e-mail us. We'll be glad to hear from you and share your inputs in the lock-keeper. There will also be some spot prizes for good submissions...What would you like to read about next month..??

Why not email this edition on to a friend, and let them share the fun. New subscribers can sign-up here, and are very welcome. More people are joining every day, so let's keep building a great Barging community..!

That's about it for this fourteenth edition, and hopefully the above articles have whet your appetite for that well-earned luxury cruise..!

Please visit barge cruises and have a look around, or follow the individual links above.

The next edition of the lock-keeper will be out in October, 2004, so we'll see you then.

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