September was all about getting ready for our biggest event of the year, The Wey River Festival! This is an event for boat owners and members of the public to come together and celebrate all that’s great about the waterway in a relaxed party atmosphere. This year we had around 40 boats moor up at Dapdune Wharf with their paintwork shining and their brass polished. With stalls, displays, activities and some exceptional weather to draw in the crowds, we managed to achieve a record breaking 1000 visitors. This was all capped off by the illuminated pageant at Dusk, where the boats lit up by fairy lights, navigated to Millmead Lock and back, this was a real spectacle. So put the date in your diary for next year, as we will do it all again on 24th September 2016.
Of course an event like this takes our Admin team the best part of a year to organise, so a big well done to everyone involved. For us Lengthsman, it’s more about making sure the Navigation is looking its best before the boats arrive, so my volunteers and I spent a lot of time mowing locksides, picking litter and generally tidying up. Of course there is also the small matter of where do you moor 40 boats? To accommodate a large proportion of towpath vegetation in Guildford had to be cleared in the lead up to the event, but thankfully this was after everything had flowered.
This month I also got to attend a course on “Scrub Management”, this covered how best to manage areas of low trees, bushes and brambles for wildlife. The trip involved visiting various parts of the Downs owned by the National Trust to see how scrub is being managed and to discuss best practice. We covered the whole range of management options from complete removal to encourage grassland regeneration, to coppicing of scrub so that we encourage its growth and increase its benefit as a habitat in its own right. The two day course was a great chance to share knowledge and experience with other enthusiastic Rangers, and even the driving rain couldn’t dampen our spirits as we walked across some fantastic countryside.
As I’m writing this the weather has taken on a definite Autumnal feel, with a drop in temperature, darker evenings and bands of heavy rain. So make the most of the sunny spells we are getting in between the showers, and come down the river to see the fantastic misty mornings and colourful leaves on the trees.
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