Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey April 2014

Published on: 4 May, 2014
Updated on: 4 May, 2014

The latest of our riverbank tales from the local Stoke lengthsman Richard Cant.

Easter is always classed as the start of the boating season, with longer days, warmer weather, school holidays and of course the long bank holiday weekend. Boats are of course allowed to use the navigation all year round depending on the flow of the river, but Easter does always seem to entice people out of hibernation. It also gives us lengthsman a target to aim for when it comes to property presentation with locksides needing to be mowed, visitor moorings to be strimmed and locks to be painted, all of which has to be done between the April showers.

Keep your eyes peeled while out along the river as spring is a great time for seeing wildlife, like these grey wagtail chicks I spotted at Stoke Lock.

Keep your eyes peeled while out along the river as spring is a great time for seeing wildlife, like these grey wagtail chicks I spotted at Stoke Lock.

We finally managed to finish all our tree work left over from the winter storms this month, which saw me helping out on the Catteshall, St Catherine’s and Triggs lengths.

The work involved removing the last of the National Trust-owned wind-damaged trees and making sure any fallen trees from neighbouring landowners were passable by the increased level of boat traffic.

We will of course continue to be in contact with the owners of these trees to try and have them removed as soon as possible. An example of this is the giant alder root ball that had entered the water from the non-towpath side of the navigation near Walnut Tree Close and was posing a risk to navigating boats.

Thankfully the landowner got a contractor in to deal with it before the busy Easter weekend, not an easy task when it required a 60-tonne crane to be able to reach it and only then did we find out the tree weighed in excess of 8.5 tonne!

Although April is a very busy month with our planned work programme, we still have to be available to deal with incidents at a moment’s notice, such as the fallen tree at Cartbridge in Send on the sunniest Sunday afternoon of the year.

This was a very pretty and very large blossom covered cherry tree that decided to fall over and completely block the navigation for no obvious reason as the tree seemed healthy and there hadn’t been a breath of wind. This is one of the reasons us lengthsman work on a rota system, so it wasn’t an issue and we had the tree passable within a couple of hours of receiving the report that it was down.

However, even within this short time scale there was a queue of 12 boats waiting to get pass, with one of them needing to get back to their mooring as they were due to catch a flight that evening.

I have already mentioned April showers interfering with our workload, it also means we are busy 24 hours a day controlling river levels through weir operations. The heavy rain and already high ground water levels mean that the river is now back in flood and too fast flowing for boats to be able to travel safely. All we can hope is that we have a respite and some sunshine so that people can get out and enjoy the river during the May bank holidays.

Stoke lengthsman.

Tel: 07786 703 832



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