This time of year is always busy and, although the earlier dry (if not particularly warm at times) weather meant that the grass grew slightly more slowly than other years, there has still been plenty to do. Luckily in recent months I have had a few new volunteers start helping out on the Stoke length, so I’ve taken this opportunity to make sure that everyone is sufficiently trained in using the small machinery we have here on the property such as mowers, strimmers and outboard motors. Both new and existing volunteers have found this useful for jogging their memory of how tools should be used and, with everyone up to speed, it now means we can “blitz” a number of tasks in one area.
Another recent volunteer task has been chipping brash left over from when we were removing low hanging branches from the towpath earlier in the year. The chip produced was then spread on an area of towpath that gets particularly wet and muddy, so hopefully this will make the surface a bit more user friendly.
You may have noticed the towpath diversion at Bowers Lock, which is in place to enable the Environment Agency weirs to be refurbished. These weirs were originally put in as part of the River Wey Improvement Scheme in the 1930’s and the structure now requires major refurbishment. The new weirs will look very similar to the old ones, using the existing (but refurbished) winding gear from the old structure so that the aesthetics of the area aren’t changed. The capacity of the weir will also be the same so there will be no effect on how flood water is managed. This work is all being carried out by contractors and our involvement is minimal, although we have had a number of site meetings to make sure that water levels are correctly maintained during the works and that I can gain access to the temporary weirs for flood alleviation if necessary.
Other than mowing and strimming, recent tasks have included removing old barbed wire fences, replacing water level markers, edging flower beds, sweeping steps, changing jockey wheels on gates, clearing out sheds, cleaning lock gates, fixing mowers, clearing fallen trees…the list just goes on and on. However it’s this variety of work that really keeps my job interesting and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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