The past few weeks may have seen the first cold snap of this winter but at least the weather has remained relatively dry and settled. This has meant that I have had to carry out very few weir movements and have been able to crack on with the winter work programme. Primarily this has meant starting to strim back all the vegetation on both sides of the towpath, allowing us to inspect our banks for damage whilst encouraging a diverse range of plant species by preventing the more dominant ones taking over. This is a very labour intensive and time consuming task but with limited access for heavy machinery it all has to be done with hand operated machines such as strimmers and hedge trimmers. So, if you see me making a lot of noise along the towpath, please be patient and wait for me to see you and stop working before you pass me.
In a bid to make the most of my volunteers help I’ve saved them from the arduous job of strimming and instead adapted my work programme so that many hands really can make light work. One of their tasks this month was to move two very large barges at Dapdune Wharf on to their winter moorings. This may sound easy but both boats were 70ft long and 12ft wide, and neither of them had motors! One of them is our historic wooden Wey barge Perseverance, which needed moving so she can be monitored over winter, and the other is a flat topped steel work boat known as a deck striker that I wanted to get ready to use as a work platform this winter. As you can imagine both boats were a bit of a handful but with all my volunteers on hand with ropes and poles we soon safely moved them in to position, so well done everyone.
A slightly less exciting job for my volunteers and me this month was raking up all the leaves at Bowers Lock. I’ve been waiting for the final flourish of leaf fall to finish before starting this task, as the half dozen or so very large Lime and London Plane trees on the lockside produce a phenomenal amount of leaves. I think even those of us who did this task last year were still surprised and the sheer volume of leaves a tree can produce. Other tasks this month have included felling dead trees before they fall down, clearing a fallen tree blocking the navigation on the Triggs length and working with the Wey Navigation Conservation Volunteers to clear scrub in our nature reserve near Shalford. All in all a busy and productive month!
As this will be the last diary notes I write before the New Year I would just like to take this
opportunity to say have a very Merry Christmas and I look forward to seeing you all along
the Stoke length in 2018.
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