Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey March 2015

Published on: 9 Mar, 2015
Updated on: 9 Mar, 2015

The latest report from Richard Cant, the Stoke lengthman on the River Wey Navigations

Well February may be the end of winter, but it started with quite a covering of snow!

It did look fantastic along the river and it was great to get out for a walk and show my baby daughter snow for the every first time!

My daughter Olivia Rose and I enjoying the brief spell of snow over by the Riverside Park Nature Reserve.

My daughter Olivia Rose and I enjoying the brief spell of snow over by the Riverside Park Nature Reserve.

It did however mean that I had to make the call to cancel a volunteer work day that I had planned. This was not only because it would have been particularly cold and wet cutting back snow covered branches, but also the icy conditions would have made working from a boat too slippery and falling in to the water in those conditions could be very dangerous.

Thankfully the snow cleared over the course of the day, causing limited disturbance whilst giving us a glimpse of winter wonderland.

The monthly Wey Navigation Conservation Volunteer Group were working on my length in February and the task I set them was coppicing hazel near to where the A3 crosses the navigation.

Coppicing in its simplest form means to cut trees down to ground level, encouraging new growth and extending the life of the tree whilst providing a usable source of straight material for tasks such as bank repairs.

On this occasion we only wanted to coppice half of the hazel stools so that we maintained the wildlife habitat and kept a visual screen to hide the buildings on Ladymead Retail Park.

Even though the temperatures were very low, the group were enthusiastic and achieved a massive amount of work; managing to carry out all the coppicing, processing the useful material, creating a dead hedge along the our boundary with the waste brush and even getting a chance to clear out the dead branches to open up the views into the meadows behind the towpath.  Thank you very much to everyone involved for all their hard work.

Other tasks that my volunteers have helped me with this month have been to finish off the cutback of encroaching vegetation from the non-towpath side of the river, trim ivy and laurel that was overhanging the towpath in Guildford, cut saplings growing in the river bank, and filling in uneven parts of the towpath.

Of course, I don’t have the luxury of having volunteers all of the time, and some jobs such as weir operations only need one person, so when I haven’t been trying to keep on top of the water levels I’ve continued with the machinery servicing for the lengthsman team so that our mowers are ready and raring to go for the spring flush of grass cutting.

On a final note, I had a visit from Weyfield School’s nurture group at the end of February who have been reading the book Mr Gumpy’s Outing.  So taking on the role of Mr Gumpy I told them about what I do as a lengthsman and gave them a demonstration of how a boat goes through a lock.

I would just like to say well done to them for listening very well, asking lots of very good questions, and for being very good at helping with the lock.

Richard Cant

Stoke Lengthsman

07786 703 832

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