Canal Cuttings.

Movement on the canals during lockdown.

As we remain for the time being under lock down, not much has changed since November.  Still just essential boat movements. The only  activity is generated by the visitors, who con tinue to come out, even in bad weather, as there  are so few options for people who want to es cape their four walls.  

More movement in April hopefully.

 Christmas and New Year were busy, and More movement in April hopefully.with children still off school and a lot of workers furloughed, any fine day brought a lot of  folks out and about. The latest government announcements give some hope that things are  improving. Hopefully boating can get going  again in April, with the pubs finally open again  later. Foxton Locks is a subdued place without  boats on the move. 

More rain, more mud.

 The excessive rainfall of the last few  months meant the canal became very high, and  a nasty putty colour with all the sediment being  swept down the watercourses. Flood paddles  were all raised, and there were serious breaches  elsewhere on the system. The towpath is now  frequently a sea of mud and quite dangerous in  places, as are many of the connecting foot paths.  

The Canal & River Trust.

 Canal & River Trust have done a bit of  timber clearance in the hedges, but they are  still well above the traditional height of 4ft.  When the last of the leaves have fallen and rotted, the usual array of rubbish was fully exposed. Village volunteers Richard and Debbie  Billington and their family have been doing  sterling work collecting bag after bag. The per ennial problem of dog poo never lessens, and  especially since the pandemic some people  seem to think its ok just to leave it, as if it  doesn’t matter anymore. 

 CRT have done some weed cutting in the  top side ponds and some electrofishing on the  bottom level. This involves a weird-looking  craft with extending arms which put out a current that temporally stuns the fish, so that the qualified crew can collect up the Zander (a predatory non-native species that need culling)  and dispose of them.  

New signage.

 Large new signs have been put up at the  top and bottom of the locks explaining how to work the staircase – apparently a safety requirement, despite there always being staff on  duty to help boaters. These join the proliferation of signs around the site, some temporary  for Covid, others more permanent, which (in my opinion) detract from the historic structures  and spoil peoples’ photographs.  

Wildlife visitors.

 A few winters ago, a white squirrel was in  residence in the trees behind the top lock, and  this year one is around again – we don’t know whether it’s the same one, although they can  live for up to 10 years. He/she joins the rabbits,  badgers, foxes, otters and copious miscella neous bird life that is always vibrant around  the locks. The recent heavy snowfalls showed  up the tracks well.  

Mary Matts.