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Richard’s Wey March 2016

Published on: 21 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 21 Mar, 2016

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

I was lucky enough to be off work enjoying my new born daughter for the first half of February, and it was great to be able to support my wife and help look after our very active toddler as well as the new arrival.

However, the role of a lengthsman isn’t just 9 to 5, meaning that when I am not at work somebody has to be on duty 24 hours a day to operate my weirs and respond to any incidents.

Typically water levels were very unstable while I was off making covering my section very hard work, so thank you to everyone who helped out and gave me the opportunity to enjoy the experience.

Of course, having had three weeks off work meant that when I started back there was plenty to be getting on with, including having to go out and operate the weirs at 5am on my first full day back!

One of the first tasks was to clear the debris bought down by the high flow rates on the river, so with the help of my volunteers we had a day clearing logs and branches from my weirs.

My volunteer Bob looks decidedly unimpressed with being asked to help move the newly refurbished punt in the driving rain.

My volunteer Bob looks decidedly unimpressed with being asked to help move the newly refurbished punt in the driving rain.

This can be a surprisingly difficult and time consuming task as access is limited so attaching ropes and winches to each branch involves what can only be compared to lassoing. Thankfully my volunteers’ “cowboy” skills seemed to be on form that day and we managed to get the debris clear without too much trouble.

With spring just round the corner the rest of the month was spent continuing the winter work programme, mainly cutting back overhanging branches from the non-towpath side of the river.

This was a particularly important task to get finished as it needs to be completed before the bird nesting season, so that we can try to minimise disturbance.

I’ve also been carrying out the annual servicing of the lengthsman teams machinery, such as mowers, strimmers and hedge trimmers. This should mean that they are all ready to go in time for managing the flourish of vegetation this spring, and should be able to work as hard as the Lengthsman throughout the busy summer months.

The longer evenings and slightly warmer temperatures do seem to be having a positive impact on the amount of people out enjoying the towpath and river. This isn’t surprising as there are lots of fantastic signs of spring to look out for, such as the blossom of the blackthorn bushes and the bursting green buds of the hazel.

So do come out and enjoy this fantastic time of year, it’s a great way to cheer yourself up after the winter slumber.


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Responses to Richard’s Wey March 2016

  1. Gordon Bridger Reply

    March 22, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Very good column.

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