Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey September 2012

Published on: 3 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 3 Oct, 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.

September 2012

September began with my second Cream Tea Totter of the year. This is a very leisurely three-mile guided walk from Dapdune Wharf to Bowers Lock, stopping regularly to chat about points of interest along the way. We then meet our electric launch Dapdune Belle for cream teas on the lockside at Bowers and a boat trip back.

Thankfully the weather held and we all had a great afternoon, so much so that another two of these walks have been put on the events list again for next year! If you would like more information on what events are still left  this year, or what you can expect next year, please contact the Navigations Office on 01483 561389.

I was away on holiday for the first two weeks in September but, as we lengthsman are on 24-hour cover for water level control and incidents, it isn’t just a case of packing bags and jetting off. For the two weeks I was away Lex, our river warden, took control of the Stoke length making sure that the water levels remained stable and my work programme was kept up.

Luckily for him early September remained dry so the river was stable, although this isn’t always the case which is why it is so important for someone to cover our roles.

One of the young moorhens that was rescued from the mill race at Stoke Mill.

On the Monday I returned from leave I had a phone call from a concerned office worker at Stoke Mill to say that there were two young moorhens that appeared to be trapped in the mill race. When I went to investigate I found two quite happy looking moorhens preening themselves and feeding off the algae on the brickwork.

However, it transpired that they had been there since before the weekend, so it was quite clear they were trapped by the high brick sides and as youngsters were probably still not able to fly. With the help of the Wildlife Aid Foundation charity and some long nets we managed to rescue them both and release them unharmed back on to the main river.

The rest of September wasn’t quite as exciting as that but the tasks of litter picking, mowing locksides and cleaning vegetation off lock gates are still an important part of my role as lengthsman to keep the navigations looking smart and running well.

September may have started dry but it finished with some very heavy rainfall and, although the Stoke length didn’t need to be closed to navigation (because of high flow rates), it did get very close. Even though it was a very busy time with weir operations to control river levels, you only need to look at the flooding they had in areas to the north of the country to realise how lucky we were.

Stoke lengthsman. Tel: 07786 703 832.


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