Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey January 2016

Published on: 13 Jan, 2016
Updated on: 13 Jan, 2016

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

During December my volunteers and I continued with the winter work programme, which is generally a chance to cut back vegetation now that it has stopped growing.

One of the main tasks has been continuing with the offside cutback along Bowers Canal, removing overhanging branches from the non-towpath side of the navigation to keep it clear for boat traffic.

This is a slow and labour intensive task, but thanks to my volunteers this section is nearly complete so do have a look if your near Bowers Lock.

Of course these trees do contribute to the varied habitat along the navigation, so I try to cut back them back on a rotation so that there are always areas left for wildlife.

Another task before Christmas was to finish the winter cutback, strimming the front and back of the towpath to encourage fresh and varied plant growth next summer, while enabling us to inspect the banks for erosion.

The wet weather in December wasn’t all doom and gloom as we had this fantastic double rainbow over Stoke Lock. Photo by Stuart Hall.

The wet weather in December wasn’t all doom and gloom as we had this fantastic double rainbow over Stoke Lock. Photo by Stuart Hall.

With this now done it is just left for me to go along in a boat with loppers and a bowsaw to remove any saplings that the strimmer wouldn’t cut through.

This is a task that has been carried out since the start of the navigation back in 1653, as the horse-drawn barges would have been pulled from the towpath by a rope and any trees on the bank would have prevented this.

The mild weather in December seemed to have confused some wildlife, and with daffodils and cherry blossom already out in places.

This mild weather may seem kinder on plants and animals than an icy winter, but a late cold snap could see them caught out, setting them back for the rest of the year.

Another weather feature in December was the wind, which seemed to be blowing for nearly the whole month.

After really strong winds we inspect the towpath for any fallen or damaged trees, but thankfully we seemed to come through relatively unscathed.

The only tree that I had to deal with was after being called out one weekend on to the Triggs length for a tree blocking the navigation; just another one of the reasons why we ensure that there are always staff available 24 hours a day.

Of course I couldn’t talk about December without mentioning the rain, and more importantly the impact that it had on our weir operations.

The heavy down pours followed by dry days meant that river levels where continuously up and down making weir operation necessary both day and night, although we were much more fortunate than other parts of the country and have seemed to avoid major flood events.

For me (and the other weir operators) this is a very busy time of year, and even when the river is relatively stable I can’t sleep soundly or stray far from the river as I still need to keep monitoring the levels.

So think of us when you’re in bed and next here the pitter patter of rain on the window.

Tel, Stoke lengthsman on 07786 703 832.

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 *