Today, we embark at Etréaupont, passing a remarkable fortified church along the way. “Pay attention to the cows,” goes the local joke. “The secret of Maroilles cheese is that the cows come here to drink from the river, which has its source next to Chimay, deep in Belgian beer country!” The meandering Oise gently pushes and twirls your canoe along small, flowing rapids. Then it’s time for a break under a centuries-old weeping willow – who knows? Perhaps Stevenson himself tapped his pipe against the gnarly trunk we rest against. Away from the noise of cars, we can imagine ourselves back in the 19th century. Back on the river, we pass through Autreppes, Erloy and l’Axe Vert de Thiérache, a dedicated riverside path shadowing us all the way to allow friends and family to follow the route on foot or by bike.