Issue date: 3rd July 2013
The first of a series of four Himalayan Balsam work parties on the Caldon Canal took place on Thursday 27th June, when volunteers from IWA, Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust and the Churnet Valley Railway met at Consall Station in the Churnet Valley. They were supported by the Canal & River Trust in the form of Volunteer Leader, Stuart Collins, and his aluminium trailable boat. Among the volunteers were three local high school students.
One team set off in the boat to pull out all the Himalayan Balsam that was growing out of the bank of the canal downstream of Consall Station all the way to Flint Mill Lock, while the rest of the volunteers tackled the Balsam that was growing out of the thin strip of land between the canal and the railway between those two points. The first (upstream) stretch had only small outcrops of Himalayan Balsam, so this was all pulled up and removed from those areas, filling 5 black sacks. Further downstream the Balsam was so extensive that the volunteers progressed to slashing it. By the end of the day most of the Himalayan Balsam between Consall Station and Flint Mill Lock had been dealt with, although a return visit later in the summer may be necessary to deal with any that were missed along with the smaller plants lurking beneath the canopy of other plants. It was noted that the plants were not as well advanced as they were on the first work party last year, at the same time of year, perhaps because of the cold weather in the spring.
The volunteers all felt rather soggy by the end of the day, as it had started to rain in the afternoon, but all had enjoyed the day and felt it was a worthwhile exercise.
There are three further Himalayan Balsam work parties in the Churnet Valley this summer, all 10am to 4pm:
Thursday 11th July – Meet at the western portal of Froghall Tunnel, Foxt Road (B5053), Froghall, Staffordshire to work upstream towards Consall.
Thursday 1st August – Meet at Basford Bridge, Cheddleton to work in both directions.
Sunday 11th August – Meet at Consall Lime Kilns to work upstream. Nearest parking is at Consall Visitor Centre, Consall Nature Park, Consall Forge, Wetley Rocks, Staffordshire, ST9 0AF.
For further information on any of these work parties please contact Bob Luscombe, IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch Work Party Organiser, on 07710 054848