Uttoxeter Canal: Work Party Reports August 2015

Thursday 13 August 2015

This work party in mid-August saw us back in the vicinity of Crumpwood flood lock on a fine summer’s day. We split into two groups, both of which were kept busy once again tackling Himalayan balsam. The first group worked ‘downstream’ from the flood lock (this section of the canal is dry) with the now legendary Caldon Canal Society slashers, dispatching a very large area of Himalayan balsam mono-culture. Working between the flood lock and the footbridge over the river Churnet, the second group hand-pulled the balsam that was growing amongst the desirable native species on site. Suitably equipped with life jackets they worked right down to the water’s edge and in the absence of a work-boat improvised with rakes to reach the balsam that grew out from the bank. After lunch we continued as before except one volunteer removed regrowth of the ivy growing on the weir abutment. Unfortunately the ivy has rooted through the joints in the stonework into the soil under the abutment deck. Understandably we are unable to control the ivy with herbicide because of its proximity to the river but each time we remove the regrowth the plant is weakened that little bit more; it is just a case of which gives up first, the ivy or us, but as we all know canal restoration volunteers are a very tenacious bunch!

Saturday 29 August 2015

After a lack of volunteers on July’s Saturday work party, it was a relief to welcome the two volunteers who turned up on a sunny Saturday in August. It is nice to know we continue to attract new faces as one of them was not only new to the Uttoxeter Canal but had not been on a canal work party anywhere before. Although late in August we were pleasantly surprised that the Himalayan balsam was not yet setting seed; it does seem to be particularly late maturing this year. We managed to complete the removal of balsam from the section between the flood lock and footbridge that we started on the previous work party. The only patch of Himalayan balsam we could not access was growing on a tree which must have fallen into the river some time ago and became lodged against the weir. It is planned that Waterways Recovery Group will remove this tree, along with a more recently fallen silver birch, from the weir during their annual ‘Bonfire Bash’ reunion camp in early November.