Chelmer Canal Trust

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Weedbusting and Litterpicking

Saturday, 5th January 2019
Upstream of Paper Mill

The first of our 2019 work parties and it was good to have an enthusiastic group of volunteers to deal with whatever work was needed.

Some of us thought it was a cold start and some of us were pleased that it wasnít as cold as we had expected. Either way, we got colder as we progressed upstream to Kings Mill (Little Baddow Mill) Lock. Nevertheless, our volunteers were keen and ready for action, usefully spotting, on the way up, the pennywort we would remove on the way back.

A quick check above the lock showed that there was no obvious pennywort in the lock cut, the place where it would have been most likely to linger.

So we took on our various responsibilities to work downstream, with the usual roles established over the many years of us doing this work: some on the bank both collecting litter and removing any accessible pennywort; some on the water lifting pennywort into the work boat; Coracleman Steve in his coracle, accessing areas that other techniques canít reach.

Itís a sad commentary on modern society that so many people throw their litter away rather than take it away with them. Our volunteers aim to reduce the dangers to wildlife and create a better visual amenity by collecting this needless rubbish. This is a good time of year to do so when vegetation has died back and when litter that would otherwise be concealed is evident.

What would we do without Coracleman Steve who not only manages to make remaining stable in a coracle look easy, but also works effectively, removing pennywort that might otherwise not even be noticed?

With two volunteers removing pennywort from places not accessible from the bank, and a workboat skipper ensuring that the work boat got them to the relevant places, more valuable work was done. Itís a tough job, but someoneís got to do it.

Armed with the appropriate tools for both litterpicking and pennywort-removal some demonstrated admirable multi-tasking!

With good progress having been made it was time to moor up ready for delivery of the much-needed refreshments.

The refreshment break. Time to recharge our batteries and to chat further as a group, share some anecdotes and catch up with personal news. Maybe it was the cold weather, maybe it was the energy thus-far expended, that meant that there were healthy appetites. And maybe some found that the resolutions they had made hadnít lasted very longÖÖ.

Then, with a bit of swapping over of roles, more of the same. Itís great that we have volunteers who are happy to take on each of the important roles, enabling us to make good progress and work efficiently.

More work to do on the bank, along the tow path

And plenty more to do on the work boat which rapidly filled with pennywort. On the plus side the pennywort was still growing well enough that it came out in useful crome-fulls (rather than break up, having been weakened by the cold weather). On the minus side, so much of the pennywort was trapped in roots and braches just below the waterline.

Meanwhile, valuable opportunities were being taken to remove pennywort from the tow path side.

A long morningís session during which we had usefully removed a large amount of pennywort from a large stretch of river as well as collecting several sacks of rubbish. We had had to leave some pennywort, trapped in the vegetation or hiding in the rushes, but hopefully some cold weather will kill off the pieces that were broken off and not caught.

And what a fine band of volunteers who were willing to carry the equipment from the off-loading point back to the car park. Well done everyone!


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