iwa's word on the waterways
Now that the weather is warmer, our thoughts happily turn to spending more time outside. For many of us, the lure of the water is strong and we look forward to taking time out of our hectic lives to relax on or by the many rivers and canals across the country.
Working Together to Make a Difference
If you are planning a ‘staycation’ in the UK but are hoping for a holiday with a difference this year, why not take a look at IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camps? These week-long working holidays offer volunteers the chance to meet new people, learn new skills and leave a legacy for the future. At just £70 for the week, full-board, volunteers can find themselves carrying out various activities such as clearing vegetation, bush-whacking, bricklaying, stone walling, restoring locks, re-lining canals or creating towpaths. With 25 different Canal Camps to choose from, there are dates, locations and activities to suit everyone and this year, there are also three Family Camps running, so children are welcome too. Basic accommodation is provided, usually in a village hall or scout hut. Volunteers need to provide their own camp bed or sleeping mat. All transfers to and from the accommodation to the work site are included but volunteers will have to make their own way to the Canal Camp. If travelling by public transport, volunteers can be collected from the nearest railway station.
The Canal Camp working holidays attract volunteers of all ages from students through to the retired and from all walks of life. The aim of the Canal Camp programme is to support the work of local canal restoration societies. The largest projects that need support in 2019 are based on the Grantham Canal in Nottinghamshire, the Cotswold Canals and the Wey & Arun Canal in Surrey and West Sussex.
If you’re interested in volunteering on a Canal Camp, visit the website www.wrg.org.uk to see a full list of all 2019 dates and locations. Camps are open to anyone aged 18 and above (Family camps age 6 years plus) and no experience is necessary. All personal protection equipment is supplied. You just need a pair of steel toe cap boots.
Pull Snap Stomp: Eradicating Himalayan Balsam
All along the towpaths this summer, you will probably spot the pink-purple flowers of Himalayan balsam. Although it looks pretty, this non-native, invasive plant species is causing lots of problems with erosion due to the fact that it has no root stock and dies back over the winter.
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) has launched its annual Pull Snap Stomp campaign which aims to stamp out the spread of Himalayan balsam along river and canal banks during June and July.
Himalayan balsam stems are easy to pull out and leave the ground with a very pleasing ‘pop’ which makes it a fun family activity. IWA is seeking volunteers both young and old to help remove the plants from towpaths before it has a chance to go to seed and spread its stranglehold even further. Volunteers are being asked to take just five minutes out of their walk to PULL up the stems, SNAP off the root and STOMP down on it to speed up the rotting process.
IWA is asking members of the public to either sign up for an online information pack in order to pull up Himalayan balsam on a family walk or join a local IWA branch Balsam Bash work party. These packs will include a leaflet to help people identify Himalayan balsam and a pair of branded pink work gloves* to keep hands clean. To see where the Balsam Bashes are running or to request an information pack, please visit www.waterways.org.uk/himalayanbalsam.
Alternatively, IWA branches are running Balsam Bash work parties in a number of different locations across the country. If you would be interested in getting involved with these, please check the website.
More information on this non-native, invasive species can also be found on the IWA website at www.waterways.org.uk/himalayanbalsam. If you find Himalayan balsam and pull any up, please post a photo on social media using #PullSnapStomp.
The Inland Waterways Association is the membership charity that works to protect and restore the country's 6,500 miles of canals and rivers. IWA is a national organisation with a network of volunteers and branches who deploy their expertise and knowledge to work constructively with navigation authorities, government and other organisations. The Association also provides practical and technical support to restoration projects through its expert Waterway Recovery Group.