SOME CHELMER CANAL TRUST ORGANISED WORK PARTY
REPORTS / PHOTOS TAKEN DURING 2020.
Weedbusting and LitterpickingSaturday, 8th February 2020
Downstream of Sandford Lock
The second work party of 2020, and another one that was well-attended by a skilled group of our lovely volunteers.
We’d hoped to use a work boat and we’d expected that a group of local scouts would be helping us with litterpicking, but as it turned out neither were available. Oh well! We’re used to being flexible and adapting to the current circumstances.
Health and Safety briefing first, especially important as we had two volunteers who were new to our work parties. Thankfully mention of Weil’s disease didn’t put them off! Then two groups for the morning’s work. One to look after litterpicking along the towpath (especially important due to the amount of litter washed down by the recent flooding) and the other group taking care of clearing a feeder stream which might have pennywort in it despite the floods and which was probably the original course of the River Chelmer before it was adapted to make it navigable.
The litterpickers could start from the lock. The weedbusters had a long walk to get to the stream where potentially there could be pennywort. And indeed there was – new growths of pennywort, replacing the previously-established rafts which had either been washed up by flooding into the adjoining field, or washed into the main system below Cuton Lock. This pennywort is managing not just to hang on in, but to continue to grow during the winter months. It’s just not right! By now we’d expect it to have been knocked back by cold weather.
Once we arrived at our planned location it was straight down to work.
Being able to work from either side of the stream helped hugely.
Gradually moving down either side of the stream is a very efficient way of removing practically all of the visible pennywort. Not only because it saved having to attempt to stretch too far to remove pennywort from the opposite bank, but also because it is often easier to direct colleagues to hidden pennywort below them that they might not be able to see themselves. (there really is someone on the far bank!)
Very good progress was made.
But we suspected that the pennywort we had seen so far was just a re-cursor to what we would find further downstream. And how right we were!
With their by-now honed skills working in locations like this our trusty volunteers were soon in action
And it wasn’t long before another stretch was completely clear of pennywort.
We’d worked hard and it was time for our mid-morning break. Thankfully our litter-pickers weren’t far away and they were able to join us.
Plenty of friendly talk during our break – and useful to be reminded that we should ensure we enjoy ourselves during work parties.
Then off for more. The litterpickers only got a short way away before they were back in operation.
By now our valiant weedbusters on the far side of the stream were having to battle through significant undergrowth to access any weed, But they did, and there’s one in this pic! Can you spot her?
As usual, more of the same, it being very impressive that our skilled team were ensuring that every strand of pennywort, even the smallest, was removed.
And what would we do without coracleman Steve who so often ensures that our weedbusting is thorough, being able to access pennywort the rest of us just can’t remove.
What was that someone said about enjoying ourselves?!
Finally we reached the point where the stream flows out into the Navigation beside the Cuton Lock weir. And unusually, and brilliantly, rather than having to leave with more work still to be done, our volunteers at today’s work party had completed the entire task – well done!
And well done too to our litterpickers who had successfully collected an impressive amount of rubbish and debris.
We’d litterpicked along the towpath marked by the blue arrows and we’d weedbusted along the stream marked by the red arrows.
An incredibly successful work party and so enjoyable to work with such a friendly group of people.
WeedbustingSaturday, 4th January 2020
Upper Blackwater Creeks
Despite illness and injury afflicting some, the first work party of 2020 was attended by a welcome number of our most loyal volunteers.
Our task was to remove pennywort from two ‘creeks’ just off the Upper Blackwater at Beeleigh, the location being chosen because flooding of the main system would be likely to have re-distributed pennywort throughout the Navigation, wasting our time seeking it out. Safety briefing over our team headed out to see what we could find. This was unclear as although the area has been monitored we hadn’t actually worked here since June 2016.
It was no great surprise to find that the weed we anticipated would be there was there!
Not the best place to work, both from an access point of view and because the floating pennywort disguised logs and branches which made it difficult to slide rafts of weed to the bank. Nevertheless, our team worked from either side of the first creek/ditch; some even sat down! Understandable. It was wet and slippery. And VERY smelly.
But perseverance, some excellent crome-on-a-rope throwing skills and attention to detail meant that what had seemed to be an impossible task was efficiently completed.
On to the next, larger, creek. At first glance this looked like it was going to be an impossible task, with pennywort covering more than half the surface e area of the creek and no coracle or kayak to bring the furthest reaches to shore.
But again our trusty team were not daunted and got down to work along the bank.
Careful teasing of the complete raft, being brought towards us sensitively so as not to break it up, meant that we had as much pennywort as we could deal with, and more.
The piles of pennywort built up,
And eventually practically all of the pennywort that had been floating on the water had now been piled up on the bank. And the creek was now clear.
All that remained was for us to do a bit of tidying up of one of the outlets into the main river and then to head back to Beeleigh for well-earned refreshments.
An excellent start to our 2020 weedbusting season!