Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey March 2013

Published on: 14 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 14 Apr, 2013

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

The River Wey and Godalming Navigations are owned and maintained by the National Trust for the benefit of both river users and wildlife. For this to be possible the navigation is split into six lengths, each looked after by a lengthsman, with my length stretching around 3.5 miles from Millmead Lock to Bowers Lock. My main roles include weir operation to control the water levels, grass cutting, painting, tree work and running events. With the other lengthsmen I work on a rota system so that there is always someone on hand for any incidents that may occur along the Navigations.

March to me means spring, warmer weather, painting locksides and mowing grass ready for the start of the boating season at Easter. Unfortunately this year Mother Nature had other plans and March was definitely still winter with freezing temperatures, snow flurries, rain and wind. This has meant that the trees are still dormant, the grass isn’t growing and everything feels later than it should be.

With a stunted start to the year I’ve had a chance to squeeze in a couple of jobs that would normally have had to wait, one of which you may notice at Stoke Lock is that along with the help of one of my volunteers I have relayed the path between the lock and the cottage.

This wasn’t initially a job that I intended to do, but after getting over enthusiastic when edging the grass I found that the slabs underneath were broken and uneven. So four man days and a quarter of a tonne of sand and cement later, the old slabs were gone and the new slabs were in, minus the trip hazard.

March has also been a month of meetings, courses and talks, ideal for the freezing cold weather! It began with a meeting of the Volunteer Recommendation group whose job it is to make sure we are doing everything we can for our volunteers so that they are happy and productive.

I also had a meeting with the chairman of the Steam Boat Association of Great Britain about our steam boating event this coming July, which seems set to be a really great weekend.

As well as meetings I also gave a presentation on the River Wey Navigations for the Sutton Green WI, and another talk for the Chantries Rotary Club, both of whom made me feel very welcome.

I also attended a public meeting of the Burpham Neighbourhood Planning Forum, and helped run a school visit at our visitor centre at Dapdune Wharf to teach children about how the river works. All these were a great chance to meet different people and share the work of the National Trust, and hopefully will encourage people to look after their local environment.

I think the Pixies and Fairies may have been at work on the Stoke Length transforming tree stumps into Toadstools whilst we weren't looking!”

Richard says: “I think the pixies and fairies may have been at work on the Stoke length transforming tree stumps into toadstools while we weren’t looking!”

Of course no matter what the weather work still needs to be done, even in between the weir movements caused by the rain and snow. So this month I gap planted the hedgerow around the boatyard at Stoke, removed invasive saplings from the towpath in Guildford town centre and moved our Wey Barge Perseverance back on to her mooring at Dapdune Wharf.  I even managed to give the locksides one quick mow to tidy them up before the Easter holiday weekend, although I do believe it is the first time I have ever cut grass in a woolly hat and gloves!

Stoke Lengthsman

Tel: 07786 703 832

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Responses to Richard’s Wey March 2013

  1. Pete Brayne Reply

    April 15, 2013 at 7:43 am

    What a lovely article!

  2. Barbara Howarth Reply

    April 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks Richard, hadn’t realised there was so much for you to do! We often walk along the Bowers Lock stretch towards Stoke (mainly in drier weather) and enjoy the variety of nature.

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