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Riff Raff Diary – August 2019

Published on: 22 Aug, 2019
Updated on: 22 Aug, 2019

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

Riverbank tales from the local St Catherine’s lengthsman and weir keeper

By Robert Craig

The dry weather over recent weeks has meant that I’ve only had the one adjustment to make to my weirs, which was to close down the last gate meaning that there are now no gates open.

The hot spell was not only challenging to work in but, unfortunately, there was also some antisocial behaviour to deal with. It did, however, mean that I was able to get plenty of strimming and mowing done along my length prior to taking a couple of weeks leave. Stonebridge Wharf, Broadford Allotments and the navigation towpath have had a cut with the ride-on mower.

Lengthsman Rob using a sit-on mower in 2018 to help keep the riverside growth under control just downstream from St Catherine’s Lock.

The moorings at Stonebridge were all strimmed and on the wharf itself, I cut back the vegetation encroaching onto the footpath. Along the towpath I’ve strimmed from Broadford Bridge down to Riff Raff weir, also from St. Catherine’s Lock downstream to the railway arch and between Ferry Lane downstream and Guildford. I’ve also mown Millmead and St Catherines locksides.

Himalayan Balsam can take over a river bank and very effectively out-compete other species. Probably not a good thing.

Himalayan Balsam can take over a riverbank and very effectively out-compete other species.

As usual at this time of year, the battle with the invasive Himalayan Balsam continues. Working in Shalford Nature Reserve I was fortunate to be helped with this task by a group of volunteers and we had a very productive day pulling balsam.

It is really encouraging to see the difference that our efforts have made in reducing the volume over the years and the increase in native flora as a result.

See you by the river.

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