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Riff Raff Diary – October 2019

Published on: 7 Oct, 2019
Updated on: 7 Oct, 2019

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

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

By Robert Craig

Now with the autumn equinox behind us and the hours of daylight growing shorter by the day the character of the river is also changing.

The mists are heavier at dusk now and the temperature is falling. The last of the House Martins are gathering in preparation for their long flight back to Africa. Soon we can look forward to the arrival of visitors such as the Fieldfare from Northern Europe and Asia, and Redwings from Scandinavia.

The Barn Owl is still to be seen hunting at dusk and is quite a sight quartering the meadows through the low lying mist.

Alongside the usual mowing and strimming along my length this last month there have also been several fallen trees to clear. One large oak at the bottom of St Catherine’s hill was particularly challenging to remove from the navigation.

A fallen oak blocking the towpath at St Catherine’s.

It had fallen on the steepest section of bank and a narrow section of towpath. With the help of my fellow lengthsman Richard from Stoke Lock and the large winch and a chainsaw, we were able to clear the tree.

The National Trust’s River Wey Navigation’s 2019 Wey River Festival at Dapdune Wharf, Guildford.

Towards the end of September we had the Wey River Festival at Dapdune Wharf in Guildford. I helped with the setting up before and clearing away after the event, as well as on the day itself.

The illuminated boat pageant.

We were blessed with good weather this year and the event was well attended. Last year it poured with rain. After dark, the illuminated boat pageant takes place with the decorated boats heading upstream and mooring by the White House pub prior to heading back downstream to Dapdune.

As well as the better weather the spectacle was enhanced by a steel band performing on the deck of one of the navigations workboats. It was certainly a surprise for those drinkers outside the pub unaware that the event was happening.

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