Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey February 2014

Published on: 2 Mar, 2014
Updated on: 2 Mar, 2014

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

February was another month that the navigation was still in flood, meaning that boats haven’t been able to move for over two months!

This has meant that there are still tree work and bank repairs left to do after the Christmas floods, with continued strong winds and heavy rain adding to the problems. Finally at the end of February flow rates did drop enough for our maintenance team to move the dredgers from Stoke Lock to Godalming where they will begin the long task of working their way to back to Weybridge doing repairs on the way.

Unfortunately, the moving of the workboats came a week too late for me, as at 10pm one evening I heard voices outside Stoke Lock and, when I went to investigate, I found that one of them had been set adrift. I then had to spend the next hour chasing it down the river in my pyjamas and wellies – not standard National Trust uniform I know!

I can smile about it now the boat is safely recovered, but this was a serious incident as 20 tonnes of fast moving boat could have caused serious damage or even put people’s lives at risk. So if you do see anyone acting suspiciously or tampering with boats please do report it immediately.

Catkins on the Coppiced hazel along the towpath, this is definitely a sign that spring is in the air.

Catkins on the Coppiced hazel along the towpath, this is definitely a sign that spring is in the air.

With spring just around the corner this is the last chance to finish off the winter work programme. I’ve have been busy helping to do coppicing work at Dapdune, near B&Q, and on the Catteshall length. This process of cutting down trees to encourage new growth is done on a rotation to provide useful material and maintain wildlife value. It’s important not to miss out a year, so at times it has involved wading through water to get to access the trees or working in pouring rain. Thank you to all those volunteers involved for their perseverance, we really do appreciate it.

Another scheduled winter task that I do is the maintenance of the machinery that the lengthsmen use. This can be quite time consuming but by working it around weir movements and the clearing of fallen trees I find that it can be done with the minimum of hassle.

One of the other workshop tasks this month was the making of bird box kits ready for children to put together at the Down-Your-Wey event at Dapdune in May. This might seem a long way in advance but with the welcome help of volunteers it is really nice to have this task done before the mad rush of painting and grass cutting, or is that just my wishful thinking of sunshine and warmer weather?

Richard Cant

07786 703 832

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