Fringe Box



Along the Wey & Arun Canal – December 2016

Published on: 2 Dec, 2016
Updated on: 2 Dec, 2016

A regular update from the Wey & Arun Canal Trust, a charity restoring the waterway which once ran 23 miles from Shalford to Pallingham in West Sussex. The Trust has established the Hunt Nature Park, where the canal route meets the River Wey, as part of its aim to create a green corridor for wildlife and recreation.

Along the Wey & Arun CanalThe Trust is hoping to submit a planning application for re-creating the canal from the River Wey at Shalford down to the outskirts of Bramley in the first half of 2017.

The design study for phase one of the ‘Bramley Link’ section of the waterway is now substantially complete, as is the environmental impact analysis. Full completion depends on the finalisation of the flood impact study, work which will be completed in January.

This project will eventually see the first kilometre of the canal restored, from Gun’s Mouth on the Wey to the Gosden Aqueduct across the Cranleigh Waters stream. Much of this stretch will have to be re-created on a new route, including 400 metres on land at Tanglewood Farm.

Once the various surveys are complete, the Trust will begin consultation with the statutory authorities, with Trust members and with the public, leading up to the submission of a planning application. Then it will start raising money for what will be the second full-navigation restoration in Surrey.

Bramley Link manager Philip Oliver and his team are also working on plans for the canal channel passing Gun’s Mouth Island, which is owned by the National Trust and leased to the Trust.

Current plans for a visitor centre in Hunt Nature Park at Shalford see work starting in the first half of 2017. The centre, on the site of the Trust’s compound alongside the A281 at Shalford, will be modest compared with the Canal Centre at Loxwood in West Sussex, but it will help to raise the organisation’s profile as the Bramley Link phase one restoration gets under way.

The centre will be linked to boardwalks which will enable visitors to explore the park. Schoolchildren and other young people will be encouraged to make educational trips for activities such as pond dipping.

Floating water fern formed a dense carpet on the surface of the Wey & Arun Canal at Tickner's Heath, Dunsfold.

Floating water fern formed a dense carpet on the surface of the Wey & Arun Canal at Tickner’s Heath, Dunsfold.

Further down the canal in Surrey, tiny beetles have halted an outbreak of floating weed which was choking a partially restored section on the outskirts of Dunsfold.

The two millimetre-long North American weevils nibbled away at a carpet of non-native water fern at Tickner’s Heath, clearing the vegetation in just a few weeks.

A North American weevil – natural enemy of floating water fern.

A North American weevil – natural enemy of floating water fern.

Twelve thousand weevils were released in July, to combat Azolla filiculoides, a plant considered to be one of the most invasive plants in the country.

“The exercise has had a remarkable impact on the water fern,” said Ian Burton, the Trust’s conservation adviser. “The weevils speedily removed most of the water fern and have had a comprehensive impact. There is now no sign of the weed.”

The project was a partnership between the Trust, the Heritage Lottery funded Arun and Rother Connections (ARC) and the CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International), which supplied the weevils.

“We acted to try and clear the weed because it had formed a thick mat on the surface of the water, blocking out the light and threatening the aquatic flora and fauna,” Mr Burton added. “The canal appeared to be solid ground.”

An ideal way to blow away the post-celebration fug is a relaxing cruise in a Trust trip boat on the fully restored canal at Loxwood. Family cruises are being run on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, with seasonal refreshments served to passengers.

There are three trips on each day, departing from the Canal Centre in High Street at 11am, noon and 2pm, costing £5 for adults and £2.50 for children.

Early booking is advised, online at or through calling the Trust’s Loxwood office on 01403 752403.


The carpet of water float on the canal at Tickner’s Heath before the weevils got to work.

A North American weevil.

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