Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey January 2014

Published on: 4 Feb, 2014
Updated on: 4 Feb, 2014

Richard Cant, the Stoke lengthsman of the River Wey and Godalming Navigations.

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

Well it’s official – the wettest January since records began! This has meant that I’ve been busy operating weirs in an attempt to move the water downstream to prevent flooding.

However, with the dry days in between the heavy rainfall I couldn’t just leave the gates open – I’ve still had to monitor the river levels day and night to avoid draining the river.

This is important because if I did let the river run too low it would be harmful to wildlife and potentially damaging to infrastructure and moored boats.

The high level of rainfall has meant that the river has remained “in flood” since before Christmas.  By this I mean that the river has been flowing too fast for boats to safely travel, so you may have seen the red flood boards at each lock warning boaters to stay where they are.

This wouldn’t usually be a problem at this time of year, as the majority of boat traffic along the navigations happens during the summer months. It has caused me a problem though as I haven’t been unable to use my work boat, so jobs such as clearing trees have taken longer.

You may have noticed that our dredgers are moored up below Stoke Lock, awaiting a suitable drop in levels so that they can get up to Unstead to start work on repairing flood damage.

Even without being able to travel by boat it has still been a busy month as I’ve had to keep the towpath clear of fallen trees and the weirs clear of debris.

Volunteers working around the flood water at Papercourt Lock to continue with the winter tree work programme.

Volunteers working around the flood water at Papercourt Lock to continue with the winter tree work programme.

There is of course the work I had planned before the flooding that still needs doing and one of these tasks was to pollard the willow trees at Papercourt Lock, which we did with the Wey Navigation Conservation Volunteers.

This involved “cropping” the growth from the trees to maintain them and encourage growth, a task that the group has done before and have really taken ownership of by bringing the trees back into their correct pollarding rotation.

Although the wind and rain shows no sign of stopping, there are hints that spring is on its way.  The leaves of the daffodils are starting to sprout through the sodden ground and the hazel trees are developing catkins.

So when you’re next out walking along the towpath keep your eyes peeled as things are starting to come back into life, and hopefully as the evenings are starting to draw out we will all have a bit longer to enjoy the wildlife on our doorstep.

Richard Cant

Stoke Lengthsman

07786 703 832

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