Willow hurdles ‘R us. We, the Maintenance Team, are now completely obsessed with their production and installation along the banks of the Swansea Canal.Scouts are sent out far and wide to search for new goat willow plantations in the Tawe hinterland and vast sums change hands to secure the harvesting rights. Gordon returns from his forays, bringing us fresh van loads of faggot bundles which we untie, our hands shaking with excitement. We now have two of Gordon’s patented hand made jigs in full production and Michelle, Gill and Alan work incessantly with the whips and pegs to perfect their skills.

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On the canal bank close to Clydach Lock, Gareth and Carl hammer the stakes in to the deep silt and the finished hurdles are floated across the canal to them by Alan using his own complex system of winch, pulley and grappling iron.

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Here are some master class tips from ‘Willow’ Walker for the uninitiated. One, put your stake in the right way up. A tree only grows one way. Nothing will root upside down. Two, overlap the hurdles to give them more strength. Three, get those duckboards in place before you step on the mud.   Many a wellie has been lost in the Swansea silt. Four, decorate your hurdles with spare whips stuck into the mud through the hurdles. They too will root.

Our merry band were also very proud to show off the certificate awarded to the Swansea Canal Society by Neath Port Talbot Community Voluntary Services at their presentation evening the night before (photo 1). This was for the society’s outstanding contribution to the community. The award is greatly appreciated

Thanks to Gordon, John, Gill and Gareth, Michelle and Alan for today’s fun and effort. Thank to Gill particularly for the sumptuous breakfast chez Thomas.