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Richard’s Wey October 2013

Published on: 10 Nov, 2013
Updated on: 10 Nov, 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

October began mild and dry which felt like a welcome extension to the summer. This meant that the summer work regime carried on at full speed, mowing grass and strimming moorings for boaters ready for our last push of visitors during October half term before most people put their boats to bed for the winter.

The pleasant weather also gave me a chance to finish off the Japanese knotweed treatment programme – so fingers crossed it’s had the desired effect and next year we’ll see less of this invasive plant along the navigation.

As well as continuing with the summer work, I’ve also tried to get ahead of some of the autumn/winter tasks. For example, some of you may have noticed that I have strimmed back part of the bank of bramble next to Stoke Lock.

Stoke Lock perched embankment. By working on a rotation we can meet the needs of humans while being sympathetic to wildlife.

Stoke Lock perched embankment. By working on a rotation we can meet the needs of humans while being sympathetic to wildlife.

This is an essential task that has to be done so that we can inspect this perched embankment for signs of leaks or holes. However, to try and limit the detrimental impact on wildlife instead of strimming the whole bank I have only strimmed one third of it this year as part of an on going rotation.

I have made a start on some of the winter tree works this month, removing a large low hanging branch from over the towpath, and assisting a neighbouring land owner by removing a stem of their tree that had slowly become long enough to impede navigation.

The maintenance team have been at work between Stoke Lock and Ladymead doing some resurfacing work. Using their floating excavator “Hoe” they have been dredging the navigation making it easier for boats to navigate and providing material for the path surface. This is how all the towpath was originally built up and will soon settle into a firm and more even path.

The last weekend in October brought strong winds and heavy rain, a combination that meant that all the lengthsman team were stretched.

The rain meant that I was busy operating the weirs and monitoring water levels through the day and night. In and around this I also had to check the length for any damage to trees caused by the high winds and then prioritise which tree work needed to be done.

Thankfully I had the help of Jake Dowling, a volunteer doing a weeks work experience with me, which meant we could get stuck in dealing with hazardous trees first and then those that were blocking the navigation.

The winding of weirs and winching of trees took over his entire weeks work experience, but by assisting the other lengthsman with their trees, he did get to see a variety of the navigation, which he agreed at this time of year does look stunning with the autumn colours.

Richard Cant

Tel: 07786 703 832

Email: richard.cant@nationaltrust.org.uk

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