Fringe Box



Riff Raff Diary: October 2018

Published on: 11 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 11 Oct, 2018

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

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

by Robert Craig

The autumn equinox is behind us and the days are shortening. At dusk, the meadows around St Catherines are now cloaked in low lying mist creating a very special atmosphere, especially when added to by the sight of a Barn owl silently quartering the meadows in search of prey.

Barn owl at dusk. Photo Malcolm Fincham

There have been flocks of house martins gathering in preparation for their long flight back to Africa. In their place, there will be visitors such as Redwings from Scandinavia and Fieldfares from Northern Europe and Asia.

On the Navigation my routine work of mowing and strimming continues, although the working conditions are more comfortable now that the temperatures are starting to drop.

Robert Craig at work strimming the towpath opposite Shalford Meadow

Of the not-so-routine work, there was a large Alder tree near to Ferry Lane to be cleared. It had fallen spanning the river and blocking the navigation but fortunately, a good portion of the trunk was on land meaning that the remainder of the tree was supported and not underwater, making it slightly easier to clear.

After about four hours, and helped by fellow lengthsmen, we had cleared the tree allowing passage for boats.

River Wey Festival

Towards the end of September, as in previous years, we held the Wey River Festival at Dapdune Wharf. I helped with the setting up and clearing away as well as working on the day of the event.

This year the weather was not kind to us as it rained throughout much of the day but even so, it was well attended, with plenty of people enjoying the sight of all the moored boats and the children enjoying distractions such as archery (with rubber sucker arrows) and a pirate ship.

Fortunately for the illuminated boat pageant, by dusk, the rain had abated and the decorated boats processed from The White House pub downstream to Dapdune Wharf, bringing some very welcome colour to the centre of Guildford after what had been an overcast day.

See you by the river.

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