After having a week away with the family at the beginning of July, the rest of the month was always going to be a game of playing catch up as the vegetation has been growing at full speed. Thankfully when I’m on leave our Mobile River Warden not only covers our 24hr weir responsibilities, but also steps into my work programme, meaning that my lock sides were nice and neat on my return which really took the pressure off.
As well as being on leave I’ve also had my First Aid refresher course and attended two half day plant identification courses to help brush up my skills. All of which involves me spending time away from my length, so this month I have really relied on the help of my volunteers to help me with mowing lock sides, strimming fishing swims and visitor moorings for boats, and carrying on with the hedge trimming of encroaching growth. Fingers crossed that with plenty of preparation work back in June and my volunteers hard work this month you’ll agree the Stoke Length is still a fantastic place for a walk, especially on these long summer evenings.
To top it all off we had my biggest event of the year in July, Puffing-A- Wey. This event saw 18 steam boats of all shapes and sizes spending the day either moored up at Dapdune Wharf or steaming past to Guildford town centre, all in a bid to create a fantastic atmosphere of coal smoke, steam and polished brass. It was a fantastic day for both visitors and steam boaters, so a big thank you to all the members of the Steam Boat Association of Great Britain, Astolat model railway and Guildford Model Engineering Society for making it such a great event. Next year we hope it will be even bigger and better!
One of the other jobs for me this month has been to carry out the Japanese Knotweed control programme along the whole Navigation from Godalming to Weybridge. To control this non-native invasive plant species we have to use small amounts of chemical herbicides to try and stop it spreading and posing a bigger problem. Thankfully this is working and we are gradually winning the fight, with some sites now clear for a number of years and others greatly reduced.
Of course not every job I do is as easy to plan for, which was highlighted when a large Alder tree suddenly fell across the Navigation at Walsham and completely stopped boat traffic. Thankfully we managed to make it passable very quickly, but as with all these trees when they’re in the water they are bigger than they first look! So thank you to those volunteers who stayed late and helped us winch it from the river, it was hard work but very satisfying.
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