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Riff Raff Diary – February 2016

Published on: 12 Feb, 2016
Updated on: 12 Feb, 2016

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir.

Riverbank tales from the local St Catherine’s lengthsman and weirkeeper

by Robert Craig

January was spent mainly focusing on my weir keeping duties.

It is not only a question of operating the gates but also keeping the weirs clear of debris.

During January I had four large alder trees to deal with, two which found their way onto my weir and had to be removed.

The others had come down on my fellow lengthmens’ sections up and downstream of me – just below Unstead lock and downstream of Stoke lock.

As usual it is a good opportunity to get together and figure out the best method for removing the tree from the navigation, something I enjoy.

Fortunately at Stoke, it being the larger of the trees, the bulk of the work was carried out by mechanical means in the form of a amphibious excavator.

At the time of writing we are experiencing high winds as the tail end of yet another storm crosses the south of England.  This means I shall be carrying out an inspection of my length of the navigation looking for any fallen or damaged trees to be dealt with.

For anyone interested in figures the number of adjustments I made to the weirs during January came to 69, and navigation was suspended on three occasions due to high flow rates.

There has been time for some strimming and cutting back of vegetation also.

Mostly I have been working at Stonebridge Wharf where over time near the moorings the vegetation has crept out.

It is a good job for this time of year for keeping warm and the results are very satisfying. It will also be easier to maintain in the future.

The shovelers are still present in the St Catherine’s area as, are the dabchicks. I see them most often just below St Catherine’s lock.

And I am glad to say that the barn owls are also still with us.

See you by the river.

robert.craig@nationaltrust.org.uk

Tel: 07786703831.

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