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Problems solved

Problematic canalside trees

Cotswold Canals Trust Director Steve Pickover has recently been busy coordinating teams of volunteers involved in the felling of some problematic canalside trees on the Stroudwater Navigation and Thames & Severn Canal. The work has involved high levels of teamwork and skills applied by WRG Forestry and CCT’s own team of chainsaw operators and timber processors.

Steve explains, “We recently had a visiting team of around twenty Waterway Recovery Group’s Forestry Division volunteers staying at Brimscombe Port. They came from all over; Chippenham, Ledbury Kent, Essex, Northamptonshire and Devon. Nine wrgies worked on the removal of some dead trees at Newtown on the Stroudwater near Newtown Lock.”

One tree had broken branches hanging over the children’s play area in the Little Angels Nursery.

The team next worked on dismantling a tree close to the canal bridge at Ham Mill Lock, Thrupp.

They then carried on felling decayed trees further westwards along the canal between Ham Mill and Jubilee Bridge.

WRG Forestry not only brought chainsaws but also applied their advanced tree climbing skills. Team leader Clive Alderman, who spends his weekdays as a commercial heating engineer, spoke very positively of his climbers and the training they receive.

“They are so good that canal restoration groups all over the country need what we do. It will be next winter before we can be back in the Cotswolds.”

Cotswold Canals Trust chain saw operator Bob Hallam takes over the story

“The CCT team apply the same levels of operator care and safety as the WRG Forestry team of course. We prepared and marked the rot damaged trees alongside the towpath between Ham Mill Bridge and Jubilee Bridge last year. The Stroud District Council Tree Officer decreed trees leaning at dangerous angles needed to be felled… and he was right!”

This photo illustrates the decayed state of the canalside trees

Bob liaised with Clive Alderman as to which trees the WRG team should deal with. The CCT team then moved in when WRG had completed the climbing work.

Bob shared some tricks of the trade by describing how the Trust’s long reach excavator operator Andy Jones ensured the safe descent and movement of felled trees that often weigh over a tonne.

Bob also explained that such movement was frequently held up while waiting for pedestrians on the busy towpath. Many are keen to chat and congratulate the volunteers for what has been achieved!

The VERY long reach excavator makes light work of a heavy tree

Local business expertise

Local company Ermin Plant, and company hire manager Ian Clapton, liaise closely with all the Cotswold Canals Trust work groups.
A recent result of that collaboration was the hire of a powerful wood chipper capable of turning 5-6inch diameter branches into a shower of wood chips.
Those wood chips are much sought after by local gardeners as good mulching material.

Bob Hallam (left) and the CCT sawing & chipping team

Bob sums up…

“The plan is to plant a thorn hedgerow along the length of towpath now cleared of dangerous trees. We are very pleased with the job we have all done.

“It has created a wonderful open view from Ham Mill lock all the way towards Griffin Mill Lock, with Jubilee Bridge now in clear view.”

Problems solved — The clear view, Ham Mill to Jubilee Bridge

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