Chelmer Canal Trust

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Adverse Weather!

Saturday, 4th December 2010

We had some volunteers who were ready to go ahead, but the latest report on conditions is that there is thick ice on much of the Navigation and, quite apart from the danger that could cause, with weed and litter being iced-in, it would be a difficult task trying to remove it.

The safety of our volunteers is one of our key priorities, and we do not want to put them at risk of the serious implications of an accident in this extremely cold weather.

Thank you again to those volunteers who had said they were prepared to turn up.

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Work Party. Long Pond

Saturday, 6th November 2010

Having completely rid the Long Pond of Floating American Pennywort earlier in the year it was a slight disappointment to find that considerable amounts were now growing again. But our volunteers will not be daunted and seven trusty souls turned up to deal with the problem.

An early start by two volunteers meant that Buster, our work boat, could be in position ready to be used

And with refreshments on board it was almost time to get started

Just one valiant soul on the bank to deal with litter while those on Buster tried to deal with both litter and weed. It was impossible to do both and the priority for the crew on the boat had to be the weed (where are our other intrepid litter-pickers? We miss you!)

And soon we were joined by coracle-man who always does a good job, getting to the parts other weedbusters can't reach.

Just the one Tesco trolley for us today! (wasn't someone meant to be removing these to avoid boats being damaged?)

Mid morning refreshments were extra good as, it being Dave's birthday, there was Birthday Cake! Many Happy Returns, Dave!

Steady progress after the break meant that all Floating American Pennywort Weed from Tesco upstream to Beeleigh Lock, and most of the litter, had been removed. It was a good haul.

But that was not the end of the session! Keen to ensure a good job was done several of our crew continued and worked all the way back to Heybridge Basin.

Another successful session!

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Chelmsford Rivers Litter Pick.

Saturday, 9th October 2010

Our six-monthly opportunity to join in with a major litter pick in and around the River Chelmer in Chelmsford saw eight of our volunteers arriving to deal with whatever litter (and other detritus) could be found.

The consensus was that there was not as much litter as usual (the suggestion was made that maybe this was a positive indication of the recession - less take-away meals and therefore less throw-away rubbish!) It was probably just as well that there was less rubbish as, unusually, we had significant equipment failures!

Before we could even start litter-picking we had to get hold of the correct fuel tank for the outboard on the Raider (many thanks to June for delivering it!). But even with the fuel tank sorted out no amount of grimacing at the engine could get it to start!

So the Raider crew had to suffer the indignity of being towed up the lock cut

('the vehicle in front is reversing'/'the vessel in front is going astern'!)

And the motive power on the way back down the cut was decidedly primitive

Nevertheless, with two people in the Raider, two in the inflatable dinghy and two on the bank our volunteers efficiently cleared both sides of the cut from the lock and into Springfield Basin.

The task completed, and the Raider having safely, and unpowered, arrived back at the mooring in Springfield Basin, it was time to join others in the CCT group and head for the refreshments

Then all that then remained for the 'Cut' party to do was to transport the tools and rubbish to an accessible place. Again, easier said than done as the outboard on the inflatable dinghy wasn't playing the game either. But at last the rubbish was off-loaded and the dinghy removed from the water.

But that wasn't then end of the session for some. Coracleman Steve had been working valiantly on the river below the weir and there were others who were eager for the opportunity to join in.

New coracles are on order so that these two skilled enthusiasts can work from them at all future CCT work-parties!

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Work-Party. Sandford Lock.

Saturday, 2nd October 2010

With heavy rain preceding the work-party, and a wet afternoon after it, we were very lucky to have fine weather.

The first task was to bail out the Raider which had been subjected to the previous day's rain

Again, as last month, Dudley set off to deal with more of the infestation in the Barnes Ditch. He found plenty of weed to deal with!

From the main group, three volunteers set off along the bank from Sandford Lock and four worked from the water 'three in the Raider and one in a coracle.

We were pleasantly surprised by the relatively small amount of rubbish and the almost-absent pennywort. In sharp contrast to Dudley being up to his waist in it, the sum total of what we found in the actual Navigation can be seen on the floor of the Raider (it didn't take long to off-load it!)

Good progress was made and it was soon time for the much appreciated refreshments.

The 'lack of litter'situation improved after our break as we were directed to the rubbish left by others on previous initiatives.

But we dealt with what others had left and managed to get almost to Springfield Lock before needing to turn back in order to have sufficient time to return to Sandford.

As someone put it 'the day had been 'a rubbish day'!

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Pennywort and Litter-Picking Work-Party.

Saturday, 11th September 2010

A work-party of two halves (or should that be 1/6? and 5/6ths?). With pennywort having been spotted in two fairly distant locations on the Navigation there was the need to place our resources in two separate locations. Unfortunately we had few people in attendance, so Dudley had to go alone to deal with Pennywort in the Barnes Ditch.

An ongoing problem, Barnes Ditch has been cleared of Floating American Pennywort weed before using heavy plant. But, as we have learned over the years, whilst the cosmetic removal of large rafts of weed can be satisfying and seems impressive, unless a thorough job is done on the small fragments that are left, or are created when rafts of weed are broken up, it is not long before it grows back again, potentially in even more places than originally. A significant raft of weed was removed at Barnes, but it will require several more visits there before it is eradicated.

Preparation for our work was also underway at Hoe Mill

It was much of the work our volunteers are used to - picking up litter from the bank and the water (surprisingly little) and finding and removing pennywort (immensely frustrating as it is growing in the bank and very difficult to remove fully)

With two people in the Raider and two in canoes good progress was made down towards Ricketts Lock.

As usual the refreshments were both welcome and, well, refreshing!

With further work after the refreshment break down to Ricketts Lock we could confidently claim that we had removed all litter and nearly all visible pennywort, from the entire section. It won't be like that for long, though!

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Evening work-party.

Wednesday, 18th August 2010

The third, and last for this year, of our 'midweek summer evening' work parties, we had six volunteers ready to do whatever work needed to be done. Conflicting reports had come in about the 'Floating American Pennywort situation'; one report said that there was practically no weed along the whole length of the Navigation. Another reported substantial amounts in the Long Pond which was to be the focus of this work-party's efforts.

Again we had a good spread of our workforce. Two volunteers picking up litter from the towpath, three looking for pennywort on Buster, our 'Awards for All' funded workboat, and our trusty 'coracleman' dealing with both pennywort AND litter.

Even before our 'on the water' volunteers set off from the new jetty at Tesco Fullbridge we could see our first target.

As usual there was plenty of litter around the Tesco area to keep our bank volunteers busy.

And our 'afloat' volunteers felt like it was a return to the bad old days - plenty of weed to be spotted, hauled on board and then off-loaded later.

As usual, invaluable work was done by the person closest to the weed, the litter and the water!

With the days getting shorter it had been a fairly short session - but long enough to ensure that all visible pennywort had been removed from the entire length of the Long Pond - Heybridge Basin to Beeleigh Lock, and a substantial amount of litter had also been collected.

Our work-parties for the rest of the year return to the usual 'Saturday morning' format.

If you are reading this, and have not yet joined one of our work-parties, please consider coming along. It is in late August, September and October that Floating American Pennywort seems to grow at its greatest rate - so it is vital that we muster all of our resources to keep the weed under control at this time of year.

Dates and, a few day beforehand location details, are published here on our website.

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Evening work-party.

Wednaesday 21st July 2010

This was the second of our three 'midweek summer evening' work parties when eight willing volunteers met up at Hoe Mill. It was good to have three new volunteers joining us as that made up for three of our regulars who were unable to be there. Our task was twofold; we needed to check for the pennywort that we had been told had been dredged from the Navigation and deposited on the bank further downstream, and inevitably we needed to look for litter. Thankfully, although some was found, there were not great quantities of either.

Four willing volunteers set off along one bank, suitably equipped with litter pickers and rubbish sacks.

On the water there were three volunteers in the Raider and one in a canoe. Progressing downstream at a leisurely pace this had to be one of the most enjoyable work-parties of the year. The weather was fine and mild and the scenery was good!

The excellent dredging work means that many of the places that have previously acted as 'pennywort nurseries' are no longer there, and our volunteers in the Raider were feeling quite smug about the lack of pennywort until, having got out to do a closer inspection of the spoil that had been dredged from the Navigation, clumps of healthy pennywort were found growing out of the drying mud.

Efforts were made to remove what we could find and hopefully a combination of cattle grazing it, and dry weather, will deplete much of it.

By now fast progress had been made by all of our volunteers and it was time to return to Hoe Mill.

Not everything went according to plan. The engine on the Raider, never entirely reliable during the evening, decided that to add to 'low power' and 'overheating' it would cut out altogether; so we tied up to allow it to cool down.

Eventually we could restart, and with extra power provided by Dudley, who proved that he could not only go faster than us, but push us to make us go faster, we made our way slowly back to Hoe Mill.

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Evening work-party.

Wednesday, 16th June 2010

The first of our three 'midweek summer evening' work parties, this one saw a group of seven volunteers meeting on the canal bank beside Tesco at Fullbridge. With no apparent pennywort to deal with our task was to seek out litter and other foreign objects (such as the one in the middle of the canal that had minutes earlier destroyed the propeller guard on the work boat!)

Two volunteers set off along one bank while the remainder travelled downstream to deal with rubbish in, on and under the water and on the far bank. To mark the occasion our 'coracle man' had brought a new and improved (but slightly less traditional-looking) coracle!

There was no shortage of rubbish for any of our volunteers and, with one eye on taking pictures and another eye on the task in hand, we all set off.

First task for the workboat crew was to find the obstacle which had broken the prop guard and would potentially damage the hulls and engines of any other craft coming under Black Bridge. Undaunted, having found the Tesco trolley the crew also managed to find a wheelchair (the occupant seemed to have long gone'..!)

Meanwhile the bank volunteers continued their work

The new coracle seemed fit for purpose - apparently more stable, and with greater capacity for rubbish collection.

Our band of volunteers were kept busy for the whole session.

And we couldn't help thinking that the young people who spat at us from the 'Tesco footbridge' were likely to have been the same people who had thrown much of the debris into the Navigation in the first place!

We finished the session with what we felt was an impressive haul, almost filling the boat:

  • Three Tesco trolleys
  • A wheelchair (less occupant)
  • A bike (well, most of one)
  • Two chairs
  • A signboard
  • Two traffic cones
  • Ten black bags of rubbish
(the cuddly toy was already on board when we collected the boat)

All that remained was for the evening's takings to be taken to Heybridge Basin and off-loaded.

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Litter-picking work-party.

Saturday, 8th May 2010

For this work party we were a small, but perfectly formed, group of seven litter-pickers, plus the (essential) refreshment-provider. The raider was locked down through the lock at Hoe Mill

and work began picking up litter downstream. Two volunteers dealt with the rubbish on the bank, three volunteers in the raider dealt with litter in the waterside vegetation and the coracle and the canoe dealt with the parts other volunteers couldn't reach.

The task was, essentially, to try to clear the litter which had been left on a previous occasion due to too much litter and insufficient time. Working steadily the litter was cleared away and all too soon it was time for the refreshment break.

Energised by the excellent refreshments it was time for more of the same

And all too soon it was time to head back to Hoe Mill with our eight bags of rubbish.

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Chelmsford Rivers Litter Pick.

Saturday, 17th April 2010

This six-monthly event is one the Chelmer Canal Trust likes to support because the more litter that can be removed from the river in Chelmsford the less will be washed further downstream.

It was another early start for three of our volunteers as the workboat had to be taken from Sandford up to Chelmsford! So two crew and a chauffeur were needed to ensure that the boat was in place.

Having made good progress through Sanford and Barnes Mill Locks there was time to collect some litter on the way, and by the time our two volunteers arrived at the slipway near the Essex Record Office they already had one bag of general rubbish and another of 'recyclables'.

The task was a familiar one 'to move along the river collecting litter that could not be retrieved by those on the bank.

Our volunteers were a bit bemused (no, lets be honest, totally narked) by three people who were camping on the bank, seemingly having fished overnight (yes, it is the close season). Having convinced them, that they should not be fishing they packed up and left, leaving two bags of rubbish hanging from the trees. Our request that they take it with them was turned down on the basis that there were people around collecting rubbish!

We hauled out the various categories of litter we are used to seeing at these events, although there were probably rather more tree trunks than we are used to. McDonalds cartons were probably less evident than usual, but Burger King rubbish had an impressive presence and for the first time Subway rubbish made its debut!

Several trips to the slipway were made to unload rubbish or to tow tree trunks to where they could be removed.

Eventually it was time for refreshments when we were joined by 'coracle man'who had valiantly taken on the task of clearing the substantial amount of rubbish from Springfield Basin and the lock cut.

The sun shone and the refreshments were appreciated!

And as we were leaving the Sea Cadet building we finally caught up with our sixth Chelmer Canal Trust volunteer.

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Litter-picking Workparty.

Saturday, 10th April 2010

With no floating American Pennywort weed to occupy our volunteers, this month's task was to continue clearing the considerable amount of litter distributed by the winter flooding. Fourteen volunteers (including the refreshment-provider) took part and it was good to welcome a new member to the team.

An early start was needed by one of our volunteers to get the Raider from Heybridge to Hoe Mill in order to maximise on the number of volunteers who could work from the water. The sun rising over the trees at 6.45 am at Beeleigh in some way made up for the early start!

The weather was forecast to be good, and once the mist had cleared our volunteers enjoyed a fine, warm day with a clear blue sky. The first task was to work upstream from Hoe Mill towards Rushes Lock. Fast progress was made with several teams working along the banks.

And our volunteers on the water making equally speedy progress

It seemed that by 10.15 we had cleared nearly all the litter between Hoe Mill and Rushes Lock, so we returned to Hoe for refreshments which were, as always, delicious and generous!

Then it was onwards and downwards - downstream, that is, to deal with the rubbish there.

Sadly, the amount of rubbish on the section downstream of Hoe Mill, and especially on the non-towpath side, meant that despite their valiant attempts our volunteers were only able to make a small impression on this section and potentially a return trip will need to be made next month.

Another good day's haul, nevertheless!

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Litter-picking Workparty.

Saturday, 6th March 2010

The efforts of thirteen volunteers (including the provider of refreshments and the dog) combined together to complete a major piece of litter picking above and below Paper Mill Lock.

Although missing our most enthusiastic litter-picker there was plenty of motivation to get on with the task which was a substantial one due to the recent flooding having flushed plenty of litter along the Navigation. Don't they have litter bins in Chelmsford? and if so, don't they use them? - we could identify much of the litter that had come from upstream (well it hadn't come from downstream!)! And while we are on the subject - full marks to the pooper-scooper brigade who so neatly package their dogs' mess into those smart little bags, but no marks to those of them who then throw it into the Navigation for it to get trapped in the bankside vegetation!

The weather forecast had been for 'rain', which then changed to 'showers', but which was actually a clear, fine (but very cold, and getting colder) morning.

Again, we had an ideal range of resources: two boats, crewed by five of our volunteers, the trusty coracle, three canoes and two on the bank. Three canoes headed upstream, and the remainder headed downstream.

Preparation is the key and while boats were being equipped some of our volunteers were already on the job.

The 'upstream' group made fast work of litter-picking up towards Little Baddow Lock, and the scene there was impressive.

Meanwhile our 'downstream' group met the various challenges that litter on the bank, in the bank and in the vegetation brings.

Used to such work, our volunteers worked cooperatively to clear litter from wherever it had become lodged.

And with so much work having been done it was time for refreshments.

Was it the cold weather, or just the availability of plenty of buttered hot cross buns, jam scones and coffee that had people coming back for more? There was certainly some scholarly discussion!

After the break some of our volunteers had other things to deal with, but most were able to stay on and continue the 'downstream' litter-clearance.

The sign dragged from the depths wasn't quite accurate for this particular work-party; litter-picking, not tree-cutting!

All good things must come to an end (and all volunteers must get the chance to thaw out), and an impressive pile of rubbish bags was finally left in the car park at Paper Mill ready for collection and disposal.

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Weedbusting Workparty.

Saturday, 6th February 2010

Our Advance-Information-System (= Dudley) had informed us of three issues which needed attention and it was good that ten volunteers were on hand to ensure that all three pieces of work could be dealt with.

Meeting at Beeleigh Lock the first task was to was to deal with the huge amount of litter that had been kindly donated by those using the car park. Our litter-picking team were soon on the case.

The litter was irritating in its quantity but interesting in its composition, ranging from the inevitable fast food containers and beer cans, through a set of saucepans to various parts of cars.

Armed with bags our volunteers dealt with it all, adding substantially to the already-growing pile of rubbish sacks.

The remainder of our group set off in search of the 'breeding ponds' of American Pennywort which had potentially been being flushed intermittently into the Long Pond. It didn't take long to find the muddy ditch and pool which was the source of the problem, and with three volunteers on land and one on the water the weed was dealt with.

The hard work of both groups meant that by 10.30 am the initial two tasks had been completed and it was time for a refreshment break.

The excitement of collecting so much rubbish had been too much for one day for some of our party, but others were eager to continue so a long walk up to Rickett's Lock was called for in order to deal with PW in a ditch which feeds into the Naviogation just below the lock.

The walk was worthwhile as, as well as providing yet more opportunities for litter-picking, substantial quantities of weed were removed from the ditch, meaning that less would be available to colonise that area later in the year.

It had been another successful morning's work, showing what an impact eleven volunteers (including the one who prepared the excellent refreshments) can make in one morning.

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Weedbusting Workparty.

Saturday, 9th January 2010 (cancelled!)
Although our weedbusters are generally a hardy gang of volunteers it seemed wise to err on the side of caution and not risk accidents on icy banks and close to freezing water.

And apart from that, if we had been working at Heybridge we would have been somewhat challenged to use the workboat!

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