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Wide Water at Whitminster

Newbury Working Party Group at Whitminster

The recent work at Whitminster carried out by the Waterway Recovery Group was the latest in a succession of work parties following on from the work between Christmas and New Year.
The weekend of 25th — 26th February was the first 2017 visit by NWPG (Newbury Working Party Group). A group of ten people led by Bill Nicholson worked hard clearing scrub.

This allowed the chainsaw operatives access to the many fallen, leaning, and dangerous trees. On this occasion, the chainsaws were wielded by Bill’s son, Rob (a civil engineer), and SDC’s Volunteer Manager, Jon Pontefract, working in the volunteer role!
The felled boughs were then winched to the towpath bank, where they were sectioned and the logs stacked. Some of the log piles will be left to form wildlife habitat.

All photos for this item provided by ‘the wandering wrgie’ Alan Lines
Alan spends most weekends among the mud & brambles somewhere around the waterways

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust advise the teams

Methodology was agreed beforehand with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and we were extremely grateful for their advice regarding maintaining and improving the wildlife habitat.
The section between Stonepits Bridge, Whitminster and the A38/A419 roundabout has become choked by rampant tree growth. The vast majority of the trees are Crack Willow, which live up to their name by falling, re-rooting, and growing again. In some cases, the tree has fallen and re-grown several times. At least 3 trees had fallen completely across the canal and blocked the channel. Twelve working days at this location have revealed a wide canal over 16 metres across.

200 metres of canal cleared

The pound is currently holding a higher water level than it was designed for. So far, volunteers from WRG, NWPG, and the SDC Tuesday group have cleared over 200m of canal channel for the first time in over 60 years. Work will now draw to a temporary close, as the bird nesting season begins. Activity will resume in the autumn.
The idea is to prepare this stretch for fully funded restoration including dredging, bridge work, and a rebuilt towpath. The good news is that the density of problem trees gradually decreases as the work progresses south east towards Bristol Road. By the end of the year, it is hoped that nearly 1km of canal will have been prepared for restoration.

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