Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey June 2014

Published on: 20 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 20 Jul, 2014

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

Tent peg making was just one of the activities at the scouting skills day. More details further on in article. Picture by Peter Stables.

Tent peg making was just one of the activities at the scouting skills day. More details further on in this article. Picture by Peter Stables.

Let battle commence! Or at least that’s what it felt like trying to get back on top of things after having three weeks off in May for the birth of my daughter.

At this time of year everything is growing so quickly you need to be one step ahead, and unfortunately I felt like I was 10 steps behind so had a lot of catching up to do.

I must admit though, I did relish the challenge and finally I now feel like I am nearly back in control of my length, so thank you all for your patience.

To give ourselves a fighting chance of taming the vegetation the lengthsman team decided that we would work together and descend on each length for a day to strim back the towpath. Although done in a very mob-handed style this wasn’t just a case of cutting everything back to within an inch of its life.

We still had to try and maintain that balance wildlife habitat and human needs, so you will see that we have tried to leave the bulk of the vegetation while shaping it away from the towpath for easier access for walkers and cyclists.

This is very important as if it wasn’t for the plants on the river bank providing food and shelter for wildlife there wouldn’t be anywhere near the variety of insects, birds, mammals and fish that we enjoy here on the navigation.

Unfortunately, the typical English summer of sunshine and showers didn’t help with the workload, with the grass growing so fast that no sooner had I put the mower away the locksides needed mowing again.

The torrential showers that we had during June also meant that we had to be very vigilant with controlling the water levels to prevent flash flooding. This was highlighted when in the space of a few hours overnight I measured 29mm of water in my rain gauge, this was enough to send the water level on the Stoke length rocketing up due to the immediate run off from the built up Guildford town centre.

However, during the summer when the trees are in leaf and the grass is long, much of the rainfall is trapped and evaporates before it can run off into the river or gets taken up by vegetation, so the impact of wet spells isn’t as intense as during the winter.  Having said that, baked-hard ground in late summer can have the opposite effect in increasing run-off rates – another factor that makes weir operation so unpredictable!

Finally for this month I would like to say a big thank you to my colleagues and volunteers who have helped me catch up with the work on my length. It’s not just the physical parts of my job that I need help with, so I would also like to say thank you to the local members of the Scout Association who helped with my “Scouting Skills” event at our visitor centre at Dapdune Wharf – we couldn’t have done it without you.

Richard Cant

07786 703 832

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