Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey October 2012

Published on: 19 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 19 Nov, 2012

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.

October 2012

A very welcome spell of dry weather at the beginning of October gave me a chance to get on with some of the more autumnal tasks before winter really kicks in. These involved cutting back the hedges along the access track to the boatyard at Stoke Lock, cutting back the buddleias along the boat mooring line and trimming back the basal growth of the lime trees at Bowers Lock.

A big thank you to all my volunteers who helped me to do these jobs, especially my two Duke of Edinburgh students Tom and Elliot who have been a big help throughout the summer and are now coming to the end of the service part of the award.

As well as my own volunteers, the Wey Navigation Conservation Volunteers met this month on the New Haw Length. The task at hand was to cut back encroaching vegetation to widen out one of the only sections of towpath that is also a public bridleway.

With 15 volunteers and three members of staff we achieved a massive amount and Steve was very impressed by what we managed.  If you are interested in joining this group that meets at various locations along the navigation on the first Wednesday of each month please email me for more details

Of course, the dry weather couldn’t last and soon the rain returned, meaning that I was out operating weirs to control the water levels. This was the first period of intense weir operations for Stuart Hall, my new relief weir keeper who covers my rest days, so it was a good chance for me to go along with him and show him the ropes. To give him a better understanding of the process involved I also took him to see the newly motorised weirs upstream at St Catherine’s and Broadoaks weir downstream at Sutton Place.

The invasive Japanese knotweed.

One of the other tasks I have been carrying out this month is spraying the invasive plant Japanese knotweed along the navigations. Fortunately there are only small patches of it which are relatively easy to treat, but this could spread rapidly if left unchecked. By using a very small amount of chemical now we can stop the knotweed and save the need for extensive pesticide application at a later date.

Of course, we have to be extra careful when carrying out such treatment near to a water course to ensure there are no adverse affects on the environment, so to do this we have had special training, use the appropriate chemicals at the right times of the year and seek permission from the Environment Agency and Natural England.

If you have spotted me out and about in my protective overalls don’t be alarmed, you can rest assured that this is essential work with the welfare of the environment and all our river users being considered throughout the entire process.

Stoke lengthsman. Tel: 07786 703 832.


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