Fringe Box



Along The Wey & Arun Canal – July 2016

Published on: 26 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 26 Jul, 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.

Wey & Arun Canal Trust chairman Sally Schupke tackles a patch of invasive Himalayan balsam in Hunt Nature Park at Shalford.

Wey & Arun Canal Trust chairman Sally Schupke tackles a patch of invasive Himalayan balsam in Hunt Nature Park at Shalford.

Tackling Himalayan balsam has been a priority for lengthsman Mike Hobbs and the other volunteers who keep Hunt Nature Park in good shape. The pretty, but highly invasive annual plant has become a major weed problem in the UK, especially on riverbanks and waste land.

The floods of recent winters have spread its seeds widely on either side of Cranleigh Waters, which runs through the park. Himalayan balsam grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation and causing the ground to be devoid of vegetation after it dies off in the autumn.

It may be an attractive plant – and the bees love it – but it really is harmful to the indigenous British flora and has to be got rid of.

Along the Wey & Arun CanalVolunteers have been strimming the balsam, clearing as must as possible before it flowers and develops seeds. A large area around the park’s viewing platform and several sections of bank have been cleared, with the workers fuelled by tea and large helpings of caraway seed cake.

Mike and helpers Judy, George, Alan and David have also worked hard to remove a fallen tree from the bank of Cranleigh Waters and they dealt with another one which on the verge of collapse nearby.

Elsewhere on the canal route, a horse-drawn narrowboat will travel the waterway at Loxwood for the first time in nearly 150 years during celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Wey & Arun.

The Canal Trust’s trip boat Zachariah Keppel will be pulled in traditional style for public excursions on Saturday, October 1.

Plans are shaping up for a whole weekend of events, beginning at 11am on the Saturday with a ceremony at Pallingham Bridge in West Sussex, near the canal’s junction with the River Arun.

Small boat owners, canoeists and kayakers are invited to a rally on the canal’s Loxwood section from 11am to 4pm. Booking essential via, where full details are available.

Events based at the Canal Centre there will include further trips on the electric boat Wiggonholt, and children’s activities and everyone is invited to dress in costumes typical of the late Georgian era.

There will be a special historical display in the Canal Centre, where the band Sax ’n Swing will be playing.

Celebrations move to the Summit Level at Alfold on Sunday, October 2, with another small boats rally on the recently restored canal section from 11am to 4pm. Again, book via the WACT website.

At noon, actor Dame Penelope Keith – Patron of the Surrey Hills – will formally open the new Compasses Bridge. The renowned Friary Guildford Brass Band will provide musical entertainment and there will be refreshments for all.

Parking for everyone will be available until 11.30am at Dunsfold Park, through Compasses Gate across the new bridge. There will be no access to the celebrations via the aerodrome’s main entrance in Stovold Hill.

A third small boats rally starts at Gun’s Mouth, Shalford, at 2pm on the Sunday. The flotilla will progress up to Guildford and through the town centre to the accompaniment of the bells ringing out at Shalford and St Nicolas churches – as they did for the canal opening 200 years ago.

A celebration tea for Wey & Arun Canal Trust members will take place in the Sea Cadet HQ next to Dapdune Wharf from 4.30pm, the brass band having moved up to entertain again. Places for the meal must be booked via the website.

Membership of the Trust costs just £15 a year for individuals, £20 for family or joint membership. And if you enrol at the Canal Centre in Loxwood and sign up to pay by direct debit the Trust will give each recruit a free boat trip (terms and conditions apply).

Members receive an A5 colour magazine four times a year and can get involved with the restoration project through dozens of volunteering opportunities. See the WACT website.

Look at the website too for further details of the bicentenary celebrations and the highly enjoyable boat excursions run from Loxwood, which is just over the Surrey-West Sussex border.

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *