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Richard’s Wey September 2019

Published on: 15 Sep, 2019
Updated on: 15 Sep, 2019

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

August always seems a funny month to me as, although it’s the school holidays and peak season for boaters, we are also late in the summer (if you follow the meteorological calendar) and working outdoors my thoughts are already looking towards the autumn ‘to do’ list. 

With the summer solstice a good month past, the evenings are just starting to draw in a little bit and vegetation growth is slowing down. 

Now this may all sound a bit doom and gloom, but I love the changing of the seasons and think we are very lucky in this country to see such differences as the year goes on and always have something exciting to look forward to such as the fast-approaching autumn colours.

OK, so I haven’t been able to stop mowing and strimming grass just yet and this is still the basis of my summer work programme, but with nesting season out of the way I have been able to get on with some other tasks. 

For my regular Tuesday volunteers this has meant continuing to cut back low branches from the towpath below Stoke Lock, a task that I can see going well in to the autumn and winter.  

The other volunteer group that I run is the Wey Navigation Conservation Volunteers who meet on the first Wednesday of each month at various locations along the navigations. 

August’s task was cutting back saplings as part of the ongoing maintenance of one of our SSSI (site of special scientific interest) meadows near Godalming. 

This is a task that has to be done with respect for any potential nesting birds but in this case we have to get in to the meadows early enough whilst they are still dry from the summer. 

As always, a massive thank you to all our hardworking volunteers. It makes a huge difference to what we can actually achieve to improve the navigations for both wildlife and our human visitors.

The River Festival takes place on Saturday, September 21. Click here for more details.

Other tasks this month have included litter picking, sweeping steps, hedge trimming, treating Japanese knotweed, replacing signs and strimming visitor moorings, especially the ones for boaters who are coming to our River Festival at Dapdune Wharf on September 21.

This event is open to all so do come along for a day of family entertainment with an illuminated pageant in the evening. 

Please note though that there is no parking at the event so best to use either public transport or the town centre car parks. 

Finally, having been a lengthsman for more than 14 years now, I have my work programme fairly well planned out whether that means planning what I’m going to be doing next week, month, season or even next year. 

However you can’t plan for every incident which is why we work on a rota system to make sure there is always cover when it’s needed. 

With a vigorous tree surveying programme we make every effort to identify trees that could pose a hazard. However, sometimes tree collapses can’t be predicted, which is why we need to be on hand to deal with incidents such as this.

This was only too true a few weekends ago when I was called out to a large fallen tree blocking the river at Bower’s Lock on the Saturday morning, an illegal speeding inflatable boat on the Sunday lunchtime and a lifted lock gate (a boat getting stuck under a gate and lifting it off its hinges) on the Sunday afternoon. So much for a relaxing Sunday roast!


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