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Richard’s Wey July 2016

Published on: 17 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 17 Jul, 2016

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

The theme for June was sunshine and showers which created perfect growing conditions for all the vegetation, but not so perfect boating weather.

This meant that I was busy not only mowing the locksides but also cutting back the towpath vegetation.

It involved strimming the banks at a 45 degree angle to keep the vegetation clear of the path but maintaining habitat, and also lightly hedge trimming the back of the towpath to stop encroaching shrubs and brambles whilst being careful not to disturb nesting birds.

A big thank you to my volunteers for helping with this job, as it meant they could warn me of any oncoming walkers or cyclists and keep the path clear of cut brambles and thorns, something which I’m sure all the cyclists will appreciate.

The fishing season re-opened on June 16, so in preparation for this I have been cutting fishing swims into the bankside vegetation in places that I know fishermen enjoy using, but also that don’t hinder other river and towpath users.

If you are interested in fishing on the Wey Navigation you will need an Environment Agency Rod Licence and either a day or season ticket from Guildford Angling Society.

Please remember to take any litter or fishing tackle home with you as this can pose a real hazard to wildlife, as well as spoiling other people’s enjoyment of the river.

The other big job has been to start the annual control of the plant Himalayan balsam.

This fast growing plant with a pretty pink flower is a non-native invasive species that will out-compete our own native plants, taking over areas and reducing biodiversity.

The best means of controlling it is pulling each stem by hand, which is labour intensive but can be effective if done each year.

This is why I spent a day with the Wey Navigation Conservation Volunteers in Shalford nature reserve for a session of mass balsam pulling.

We have visited this site previously so although the task was somewhat arduous, it was also very satisfying to see the difference we were making.

Back on my own length and the Himalayan balsam also needed controlling, this time in smaller quantities but on the closed section of towpath between Ladymead and the A320 that is currently being restored by Land & Water.

The concern here was that if we didn’t clear the site of balsam it could go to seed and be spread by the excavation work.

NT staff and volunteers in full protective clothing to help prevent Himalayan balsam being spread during towpath restoration work.

NT staff and volunteers in full protective clothing to help prevent Himalayan balsam being spread during towpath restoration work.

A simple problem to solve with a small group of volunteers, until you realise that as the area is a working construction site we needed to be fully equipped in hard hats, hi-vis and life jackets and then inducted in site safety before being allowed to even step foot on the towpath.

Thankfully the Land & Water staff were very accommodating and even explained to my volunteers what they were doing and how, making it a very interesting day for everyone.


Stoke Lengthsman

07786 703 832

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