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Riff Raff Diary – July 2020

Published on: 12 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 12 Jul, 2020

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

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

By Robert Craig

The last few weeks have been a busy time for me catching up with vegetation management.

At the height of the pandemic, my work programme was cut to only doing the basics, like operating weirs, so things had been allowed to grow more than usual. Catching up with the strimming has been difficult due to the social distancing requirements in place, especially the narrow section of towpath in Guildford where to distance is simply not possible.

With the mostly dry, albeit very hot weather in June and recent easing of restrictions, I’ve been focussing on strimming the towpath and mowing the locksides, as well as the moorings at Stonebridge Wharf. Here I found it possible to keep on top of the mowing throughout the lockdown as there is plenty of space to work.

The first boat on the re-opened River Wey passes under St Catherine’s footbridge.

On June 18 we re-watered the pound between St Catherine’s and Millmead Lock, the temporary repair work to the weir in Guildford having been completed. It is great to see it back – back also are the boats which can now navigate all the way up to Godalming Wharf again.

A house martin, distinguishable from sand martins by the lack of a chest bar. Photo Malcolm Fincham

In the sky, the swifts and house martins are busy entertaining us with their amazing aerial acrobatics. Not so swallows this year; personally I have only seen one locally so far. I gather they have encountered bad weather on their journey to the UK so numbers are reduced.

Purple loosestrife

Along the towpath, the flowers are looking splendid at the moment. Look out for meadowsweet; you can’t possibly miss it as there is so much this year, also the striking flower heads of purple loosestrife.

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