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Riff Raff Diary – February 2020

Published on: 10 Feb, 2020
Updated on: 10 Feb, 2020

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

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

By Robert Craig

This year has started off well for me as I’ve now completed the winter cutback of vegetation on my length.

Ordinarily I’d have finished it last year but January has mirrored December in that I spent a lot of the time concentrating on weir operations.

In January I made some 34 adjustments to my weirs, during December I made 32.

Also, as in December, navigation was suspended on two occasions due to high flow rates.  Fortunately we didn’t have a repeat of the conditions experienced on Christmas day 2013!

Fallen alder tree on the St Catherine’s length of the Godalming Navigation.

In the middle of January we had a spell of very high winds to contend with, which brought down three large alder trees.

I was able to secure one of the trees underneath the railway bridge just upstream of my weirs; the second tree bypassed the weir and I was able to secure that to the bank before it reached my gates at St Catherine’s Lock.

The third tree, however, speared my weir with the rootball underneath one of the gates.

With the help of my colleague Richard, and a large winch, we were able pull the tree from under the gate and secure it.

After the wind had abated and the river had returned to normal flow rates, myself and fellow lengthsmen tackled the large alder under the railway bridge. It took two days, a lot of winching, and cutting sections off the tree as we went, to finally clear it from the navigation.

Now I shall start cutting back any overhanging branches and trimming hedges prior to nesting season getting under way.

I will also be visiting other locations on the navigation erecting more nesting boxes as part of our ongoing project.

See you by the river.

robert.craig@nationaltrust.org.uk

07786 703831

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