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Richard’s Wey – March 2020

Published on: 16 Mar, 2020
Updated on: 16 Mar, 2020

national-trustThe latest report from Richard Cant, the Stoke lengthman on the River Wey Navigations

What a winter this has been and the last few weeks have been the worst of the lot!

I’m not talking about freezing cold, ice and snow (I personally love a bit of snow and so do my daughters), but instead it’s been wet and windy since about October and seems to have reached a climax of late.

With a steady stream of low-pressure systems coming in from the Atlantic we have pretty much got hit by a storm every weekend.

The heavy rain on already saturated ground meant that weir keeping was very intense day and night, and when I wasn’t winding weirs, I was either clearing fallen trees or checking for wind damage.

With bands of heavy rain coming in regularly, the river levels had very little chance to drop off before the next deluge culminating in a large flood event in the middle of February.

Flooding at Stoke Lock, February 2020.

With the weirs fully open and the towpath underwater there was little that I could do apart from keep checking the weirs for debris and wait for levels to drop off.

Thankfully the flooding wasn’t as bad as Christmas 2013, our last major flood event, but there is still plenty of work to be done where the towpath surface has been either eroded by flowing water or had piles of sand deposited on it.

Fingers crossed, the weather in March is kinder to us and I’ll be able to start working to resolve these issues.

It’s not been all doom and gloom this month though, as on February 5 we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Wey Navigation Conservation Volunteers.

This is our volunteer group who meet once a month along the navigation anywhere from Godalming to Weybridge, carrying out a variety of practical maintenance and conservation tasks.

To mark the occasion, we returned to Papercourt Lock to pollard the willow trees there, just as we did on the group’s very first work party in 2010.

I find it amazing the amount this group has achieved over the years, and it was great to be able to celebrate this achievement with them over a slice of birthday cake.

We also found some photos taken of the group over the years, so it was nice to look back and remember the different tasks we had carried out (and see how much more hair I used to have back then!).

A big thank you to everyone who has been involved in the group both past and present, and long may it continue its good work in the years to come.

As well as having to deal with storm damage, there has still been the planned work programme to be getting on with.

This has included more pollarding, continuing to remove low hanging branches, clearing litter and servicing machinery.

It’s been such a busy month I really don’t know where it’s gone but, with the nights getting longer and a hint of warmth in the sun, I’m definitely looking forward to putting winter behind me and jumping in to spring.

On a final sad note, you may have heard about the swan that was attacked by a group of dogs recently near Stoke Lock.

You’ll be pleased to hear the swan taken to the Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton is recovering well, but let’s not have another incident like this happen again. Please make sure dogs are kept under control, especially as nesting season is upon us. Thank you.


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Responses to Richard’s Wey – March 2020

  1. Paul Robinson Reply

    March 17, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Richard, but the swan sadly died of its injuries.

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