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Riff Raff Diary for December 2012

Published on: 15 Jan, 2013
Updated on: 15 Jan, 2013

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

Riverbank tales from our local St Catherine’s Lengthsman/Weirkeeper

by Robert Craig

December was a busy time again for the weir keepers on the navigation; during the month I made 45 adjustments to my weirs. 

Unsafe conditions for navigation due to high flow rates occurred for almost all of the second half of the month.  The last time I recall high flows of that duration was in October 2000 when the levels were also much higher – it just would not stop raining that month.

Leading up to Christmas I was able to complete the winter cutback of the tow-path and hedges along the back edge of the path.  Millmead Lock also had some attention with the last of the leaves to be raked up and a general tidy.

Further upstream on the island opposite the moorings at Stonebridge Wharf you may have seen, during December, some of the tree’s being cleared. This work was carried out by the Waterways Recovery Group (forestry) working on behalf of The Wey & Arun Canal Trust who now lease the land from us.

The work forms part of their plans to re-connect the northern end of the Wey & Arun Canal with the Godalming Navigation at Gun’s Mouth.*  The Wey & Arun finally closed in July 1871 after fifty five years of activity. Trade and been in decline causing a fall in toll receipts.  The waterway remains unique for being the sole navigation to have linked London with the South Coast.

A Little Egret

A Little Egret

Heading back downstream you may have seen a Little Egret in the trees surrounding Shalford Meadows; it’s a medium sized white Heron with black legs and bright yellow toes.  Once a rarity, it first appeared in the UK in 1989 and first bred in Dorset in 1996, it is now a common sight on many of our South Coast sites – both breeding and as a winter visitor. Although a more common sight these days it is still on the Amber List of rare breeding species. One to look out for.

See you by the river.

*

Copyright Wey & Arun Canal Trust

Copyright Wey & Arun Canal Trust – Click image to link to their website

 

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