A slightly depleted team of volunteers met for a third week at the Ynysmeudwy Riverside Community Space section of the canal, with tree-clearing on their minds!

Nellie, our small work boat, was out again with Gordon at the helm. Last week’s triumph in removing a large tree trunk from the cut had inspired further clearance of woody and twiggy obstructions. Branches and brambles on the off-bank that had long been drooped in the water had become entangled with root systems and had buried themselves in the silt. As a team eased them above the waterline using ropes from the towpath, Gordon took a handsaw to sever these attachments and the debris was brought ashore for size-reduction and disposal.

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After the tea break, Alan W took over from Gordon in ‘Nellie’. He was able to further cut back the vegetation while ensuring that some long shoots remain for our resident kingfishers to use for diving for fish.

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Aled, Gill, Sharon, Martin and Alan W were detailed to collect and plant supple willow withies to reinforce the existing coppiced hedging along the canal tow path. In the second photo, we see Aled and Gill discussing the YouTube “Teach Yourself Coppicing” videos while Sharon nicks the tallest shoots with her loppers before bending them horizontally into the framework of the hedge. This will eventually produce a continuous wildlife corridor for birds and small mammals as well as a secure perimeter hedge.

 Paul5  Martin Hedge
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Elsewhere along the towpath, David did what David does – trimming back twigs sprouting over the walkway.

We were joined by David Morgan, Glandŵr Cymru Development Manager Wales and Neil Oliver, Canal and River Trust Senior Engineer, who later in the morning, together with Gordon, Alan T and John D, headed to the Buried Lock site for a meeting with our architect, Patrick Moss, to review progress on Phase 1 design for the redevelopment of the lock. They later moved to Coed Gwilym Park to inspect the site of the proposed new slipway. Points were clarified on both schemes and ‘next steps’ agreed to meet challenging timescales. There was so much talking there was no time for photographs!

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Teatime brought a welcome rest with delicious cake provided by Gill and each COVID-concious attendee bringing their own liquid refreshments.

Mike and Ronnie chose to work in Coed Gwilym Park. They started emptying the store, sweeping, tidying, and throwing out the rubbish. Ronnie took the insurance certificate and risk assessments off the door, ready for 2022 hire. They planted out some grasses at the hidden lock path. Mike, having seen the ducks, put Newquay, the crocodile in the water and they flew off quacking. Many people stopped to chat, saying they’re looking forward to the spring.

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It was another worthwhile, if grey and chilly day, with the good company and plentiful banter keeping spirits high, and the canal and store looked much better for it too!

Your cub reporter was sheltering from the dreaded ‘rona. He is indebted to Alan T, Martin, Paul and Ronnie for writing this report and providing the photographs.