Fringe Box



Riff Raff Diary – January 2016

Published on: 12 Jan, 2016
Updated on: 12 Jan, 2016

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir.

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

by Robert Craig

I spent the majority of the period leading up to Christmas finishing off the winter cutback of towpath vegetation.

This has made it easier now for me to identify any areas of bank damage, which I shall be working on repairing in the coming months.

In the latter part of the month I had to concentrate more on the weir keeping aspect of my job due to the increased amount of rainfall, culminating with navigation being suspended due to high flow rates on December 31.

Fortunately levels settled back again a couple of days later.

I am very grateful that we have not experienced anything on a par with those in the north of the country.

I had three large alder trees at different times to clear over the Christmas period which floated down and jammed themselves in my weir.

The problem is that the branches extend under the open gates and the force of the water flowing through the gates holds them there, making it extremely difficult to remove them.

Anyway, having employed various techniques gathered over time I managed to get them off the weir and secured ready to winch out at a later date – firewood for next winter!

The mild weather we have been getting means that flowers such as the meadowsweet have continued flowering into December.

Also on the Railway Line Walk the primroses are in flower, as is the gorse in the meadows surrounding the navigation.

On the bird front I have been seeing numbers of shovelers on the marshy areas around St Catherine’s recently.

The male has a green head, white breast, mainly black upperparts and orange-brown underparts.

The female is mainly brown and cream with bolder markings than a female mallard.  The bill is large broad and shovel like. This they use to feed on things such as snails and crustaceans and also aquatic plants and seeds.

See you by the river.

Tel: 07786 703831.

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