Jul 142014

The slip on the towpath side, shortly after trees on the slope were felled

As many will know, as a result the collapse of the banks near Dogmersfield in March last year following wet weather, the towpath to the south of the Barley Mow pub had to be closed, and restrictions placed on navigation. After the further rains in the Spring, the banks moved some more, after which further restrictions, in the form of length and width limits on boats using the channel had to be applied. As the channel has been narrowed, the new Society trip boat, the John Pinkerton II is currently unable to pass the slip. However the old John Pinkerton has been able to “escape” (just) and, with the generous agreement of its new owners, we have been allowed to use it to fulfil our trip commitments for Farnborough Air Show clients. Since the slip occurred, negotiations have been going on between Hampshire CC and the adjoining landowner on how to proceed with the bank repairs. Because the slips actually occurred on land that does not belong to the Canal, this has inevitably resulted in some delays while agreements are reached between the parties concerned.

The off-bank recently

However some progress has been made. The landowner has already removed some trees on the off-side (left). On that side it is expected that the slope will be regraded to a shallower angle and then sheet piles installed at water’s edge. Meanwhile on the towpath side, the design of the repair is being worked through, with several alternatives having been rejected. It is unlikely that the repair will be an extension of the adjacent gabion “Great Wall of Dogsmersfield”, constructed following a similar landslip over 30 years ago (below), as modern engineering codes mean that the foundation of such a wall now would be a too great a burden on the slip.

Building the Great Wall of Dogmersfield, 1982

Nothing can be guaranteed of course, but the hope is that the works on the towpath side will start this winter and be completed before the cruising season next year. Navigation closures during this period will be unfortunately unavoidable. The towpath will also have to remain closed for safety reasons until the job is complete.