Chelmer Canal Trust

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Weedbusting in the Long Pond, the Langford Cut and near Hoe Mill

9th January 2022

Especially compared with the previous day, today?s work party started with some fine, blue-sky, weather - and continued that way throughout the day. Which was a bonus for our two teams setting off early to bring the two work boats for use at the Long Pond.

Well, that was the plan! And for our Hoe Mill pair, with the EWL Raider having been ready for action when they arrived (thanks, EWL), all seemed good. A pleasant trip downstream.

Until they got to Ricketts Lock. A bit of a struggle getting the top gates open but they managed it and moved the Raider into the lock. But when 'emptied' could they get the bottom gates open? NO! There was no way that Raider was going to get out of the lock and on its way to Beeleigh (and judging by the amount of water flowing over the bottom gates at Beeleigh Lock nor would they have got through Beeleigh Lock either). A quick discussion with 'mission control' at Beeleigh and it was agreed that the best plan of action was to return to Hoe Mill.

Well, that was the plan. However, the amount of water flowing over the top gates was still an issue.

As before, the water level above the top gates was so great that they couldn't be opened. Maybe they would have to wait a day or two for the level to drop! Maybe they thought of Popeye and should send out for cans of spinach! Maybe some body-builders would turn up. No! Ingenuity won the day and through some clever 'water management' they managed to get the top gates open (what a relief) and head back to Hoe Mill.

Workers not shirkers, though, rather than justifiably feel that they'd done enough for one day and go home, they ventured further upstream to work on pennywort above Hoe Mill. The weather helped.

And, never ones to miss opportunities, they were soon 'on task', doing what we were there to do - though not intentionally at that location today - removing pennywort.

Meanwhile Buster, our jointly-owned work boat, had been prepared and driven up from Heybridge by two more early-risers.

Arriving early there was just one interested soul there to great us.

It was a good day for birds. A Kingfisher had been spotted on the way up to Beeleigh and successful Kingfisher-spotting continued through the session.

A revision of plans due to the lack of one of the two work boats that had been anticipated. In order to ensure that our workforce was most effective a team of three would work in the Langford Cut, two volunteers would work on the Long Pond from the bank and three would work on the water from Buster.

Fully equipped the 'bank team' set off.

Having ferried the Langford Cut team across to the far side the Buster crew soon got to work.

Plenty of Pennywort to be collected and it wasn't long before they were offloading their first 'cargo'.

And it seemed not long after that they were arriving with yet another boatload.

Which was quickly offloaded with the help of the Langford Cut crew who had dealt with one side of the Cut.

Efforts have been made before to describe the horrors of working in the Langford Cut. The water is only accessible by pushing through a barrier of brambles, the edge is undefined and there is little room to work. It continues to amaze us that our volunteers are willing to work there - but they are!

With no coracle out on the water to help us get the distant pennywort our long red poles came in handy.

In fact, we probably did one of our most efficient pennywort-removals in this part of the Cut for a very long time. Helped by the fact that previous work we had done there had significantly reduced the amount of pennywort needing to be removed.

Just a small amount of tidying up was possible on the ferry trip back to base.

And then good to see our bank party had arrived back

It was an ideal time to take a break for some refreshments.

Nice to relax in the sun and enjoy each other's company. And if you've recently received a gift of two picnic chairs why not use them?!

All too soon it was back to do more of the same.

More work for the crew on Buster, again pulling impressive amounts of pennywort on board.

The other side of the Langford Cut to be dealt with. Did we mention that there's not a lot of room to work there?!

And that it's a pretty grim place to be?!

Finally, for everyone, it was time to end the session. Another hard-working day for all of our volunteers. Again, spending time doing this valuable work goes above the call of duty and is much appreciated. Thank you.

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