Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey May 2013

Published on: 10 Jun, 2013
Updated on: 10 Jun, 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.

May is known for its two bank holidays, and the long weekends certainly attracted the boaters particularly since the weather was good.

For me the higher levels of people using the navigation means a good chance to get out and talk to as many visitors as possible. This is important as it not only puts a face to a name, but it also helps me build up relationships with the different river users and learn what I can do to help manage the waterway for their benefit.

The other reason I am working on bank holidays is in case of any incidents that may need dealing with urgently such as fallen trees or boats getting stuck.

Thankfully both weekends were very quiet with no mishaps, and the one fallen tree I had to deal with in May was kind enough to wait for the middle of the week when there were fewer boats out and about. The tree was a large pollarded willow that came down and completely blocked the navigation by the Woking Road bridge.

Mark and Chrissie from the Rowbarge pub came down to tell me about it just as I was about to set out working with one of my volunteers, so our plans quickly changed and we had it winched out and chopped up by mid afternoon.

With the warmer weather finally here the vegetation is growing like crazy and I spent most of May trying to keep on top of it. As well as keeping the locksides neatly mown and looking their best, I have been out mowing the towpath and strimming gaps in the bank side vegetation for boats to be able to moor up for short periods.

I have also been out strimming the back edge of the towpath and knocking down some of the larger plants on the river’s edge, all of which helps to maintain views of the river and a nice open feel for walkers and cyclists. All in all it’s been a very busy month but definitely worth it, and I hope you all agree with me that however you use the river it’s a fantastic place to be at this time of year.

The Wey & Arun Canal visitor centre at Loxwood.

The Wey and Arun Canal Trust visitor centre at Loxwood.

I also went on a staff and volunteer trip to the Wey and Arun Canal Trust visitor centre at Loxwood, to see how they are getting on with the mammoth task of restoring the Wey and Arun Canal. It could eventually link the Wey Navigation to the sea at Littlehampton.

Richard Cant, Stoke lengthsman.

Tel: 07786 703 832

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