|Dragonfly Branch Report Spring 2012 (No.124)|
Despite the chilly weather the branch faithful have been busy on the canal as usual. The Christmas/new year lull in activity has been followed by a flurry of activity, mostly tree and scrub work, hedging and ditching. But one Saturday workparty repaired the broken height barrier at the entrance to our canalside park. We had to restrict entry to the park that day for safety reasons and we had to stop traffic on the road for a minute or two but the job went much easier than we thought it would. The barrier is now almost back straight and the uprights almost vertical – near enough -- but back in working order and now painted luminous yellow so perhaps it won't get bashed again!
Another Saturday work party spent some time, as the canal was all but dry, cutting down some very long, very spindly willow saplings that had sprung up at the edge of the canal, lots were left in the cut for the OAPs Wednesday workparties to clear up and burn, a common practice here in West Vale. However we hadn't banked on rain filling that part of the canal so when they returned to do the job the lot was afloat out in the middle and unreachable, so having no grappling hooks or long handled rakes with them the job was left till the following week. The following week they returned, fully armed with all the kit, only to find that the ice was 4 inches thick and had trapped all the branches, (all the best laid plans etc.) The job is still waiting but we are, yet again, expecting plenty of volunteers from local companies to come and help, first lot tomorrow in fact, so it should be done by the time you read this.
Now again my plea - 'are there any more volunteers out there?' Especially those that can turn out in mid week – no physical effort required – to supervise the visiting volunteers! We need one supervisor to every five or six visitors, to keep a watchful eye on them and sometimes to curb their enthusiasm! If this year's contingents are as good as last then we will get a lot done!
There are also all the little odd jobs to do as well, mending broken tools and machinery, replacing faded signs, updating our web page, organise the hosting of this years AGM ---you name um, we got um! AGM! Yes West Vale has the honor of hosting the Trust AGM in October, more news later.
Branch workparty members are now all experts at vegetation clearance, a posh name for scrub bashing, and that's what it is, generally clearing vegetation from the cut and towpaths by giving it a good bashing, we just want rid of it. But it's not always as simple as that, there are rules and regulations to follow and sometimes the work takes considerable skills to do properly. And we don't just bash, for every tree or shrub we bash we plant at least two more, tend them, water them and then if it's in a hedgerow perhaps later lay them. The trees we planted in our park just 13 years ago are now maturing and need attention; our OAPs have recently pruned lots of trees there. Why? Well some overhung the road and path network, some lower branches were a hazard to grass cutting, some were diseased etc. All the hedgerows, every year, encroach onto the towpaths and have to be cut back, we could just flail them back but we like to do a proper job. All these tasks need sympathy, skill and understanding to do a proper job. Like to know how, get some free training, give me a call and volunteer.
We planted some shrubs the other day, and boy was the ground dry, strange then that the canal in parts had a decent amount of water in it. But remember those ditches in the park we cleared recently, the north ditch is dry and has not seen a single drop of water actually flow along it since, whilst the south ditch has quite a good flow. Strange, just the exceptionally dry winter we suspect – makes you wonder where the water will come from when the canal is fully restored!
We have also still been collecting hardcore from around the village and transporting it to Steppingstone Bridge. We have lots now! We have had two visits, BITM and KESCRG have come for weekend visits despite the cold weather, they have continued work on the bridge, laying hardcore on the track and transporting and cutting coping stones to the correct size. They also have done some scrub clearance along that section, and had a bonfire or two, probably to keep warm! Without all our visiting volunteers progress would be very slow, but thanks to them progress here in West Vale continues apace!
Any more volunteers out there? Despite progress we still have plenty of jobs to do and spring is just around the corner. Do all rush at once, we can cope!
For more news keep an eye on our web pages, we update them regularly.