It’s been a busy summer for the Wey & Arun Canal Trust, with a full schedule of boat trips set to run up until October at the wharf in Loxwood, restoration projects in full swing and much towpath clearing to do thanks to the unusual summer weather.
Working parties operate almost every day of the week, looking after the 23-mile canal that runs from Shalford in the north to Pallingham in the south.
Teams have been operating at Tickner’s Heath at Alfold, where the first stage of a road crossing is underway. So far a pedestrian footbridge has been constructed, with a temporary road diversion and road bridge to follow. You can follow the progress in this three-year project at the Trust’s website, www.weyandarun.co.uk.
Volunteers have also put the finishing touches to a temporary bridge at Birtley, near Bramley, where a 1km circular canal walk will open later in the year, and constructed an information centre and wheelchair-friendly boardwalk and viewing platform at the Hunt Nature Park at Shalford, designed to host school visits, talks and guided walks to educate the public about the canal’s history, its wildlife, and plans for the future.
In Cranleigh, a decision is still awaited from Waverley Borough Council on the application to construct a replacement bridge to convey the canal below Elmbridge Road. The project involves restoration of the canal through the plot of The Wayside and along part of the curtilage of Elmbridge Village, along with construction of a new canal lock. The footpath as far as the bridge over Cranleigh Waters will be restored and will link to a new footpath within Elmbridge Village.
The Trust describes the plan as a win-win, as the Cranleigh residents will be able to take advantage of the restored canal and no longer have to navigate the tricky one-way road at Elmbridge.
Across the border into Sussex, working parties have been constructing a new weir at Harsfold, where a new bridge was completed by volunteers last year. Repairs to the towpath have required levels to be raised by more than half a metre in some cases and canal banks reprofiled where needed.
Keeping on top of the growth of vegetation along towpaths has also meant maintenance teams have been much in demand, too.
Not all volunteers are out getting their hands dirty, however, and there are many non-physical roles that are integral to the smooth running of the Trust. The Trust is looking to recruit boat crew for the next trips season in particular, along with a host of back office roles, and will be holding a series of information days for those interested in finding out more about volunteer opportunities.
The Information Days will run on Thursday 23rd September, Saturday 2nd October and Thursday 7th October at 11am at Shalford Information Point.
For more information and to register, please go to www.weyandarun.co.uk.