Feb 262014

An update from the Senior Lengthsman, Mike Gordon

Spring has arrived. It’s glorious and what a relief it is that we seem to be at an end to the horrendous storms and rain suffered over the last three months. The Lengthsmen were out in all sorts and the reports came in thick and fast. However, it must be said, as far as the canal is concerned, it could have been a lot worse. In the brief and rare fine intervals in January we also managed to conduct a boat count along the canal. The info gathered has been passed on to the Canal society’s committee and the BCA who will both use the figures while planning and developing various strategies.

An invitation and an exciting new project.

The RiverSearch Project.  Thursday 27th March at 7.30pm. The Canal Centre, Mytchett.

The RiverSearch Project works with some 78 volunteers in the Rivers Wey and Mole areas.  With your help and input it is ready to incorporate the Basingstoke Canal. It is all part of a National and European drive to get all water bodies in the best possible ecological state.

Volunteers will be required to survey a stretch of canal recording and reporting data on things to reflect the state of health of the canal and its surrounding area. Subjects of interest are diverse and fascinating including water quality, fish, bird and mammal habitat, pollution, erosion. Basically the whole gambit of flora and fauna.

A survey is required at least once a season (4 times a year) and to maximise the value of your input volunteers are required to attend a short training course which will be held at a later date at the canal centre and adjoining towpath.

If ever there was a project tailor made for Lengthsmen this is it. We are already doing some of what is required every time we go out but there is a lot we are ignoring simply because we don’t know what to look for.

Please come along on March 27th when Glen Skelton, RiverSearch co-ordinator, will make an interesting and info packed presentation that will reveal all. There will follow a Q & A session.

I think this is really exciting and important. It Is a terrific opportunity to gain a bit of knowledge that will enable us to get even more enjoyment of the towpath and do some good at the same time. After the main event I will decant to the Potters bar across the road from the centre and I will be happy to chat to you and catch up on things in general. It’s not often we get the chance to meet up.

RSVP  would be appreciated to me, at lengthsman@nullBasingstoke-canal.org.uk

Distribution of bits and bobs

I would like to use the same evening to give out the following to anyone who wants them;

  • High Vis Vest/tabards.
  • Litter Pickers.
  • Black sacks and sack holders.
  • Protective gloves.

And for Back Pack tool kit holders I have managed to secure secateurs to be added to your kit.


If there is one subject guaranteed to raise blood pressure, it seems to be cyclists on the towpath.

While the vast majority of cyclists are considerate there is a sizeable minority who are reckless and dangerous.  This has been highlighted recently in the Fleet area where there is a particular problem at commuting times along a narrow towpath. Sadly one Lengthsman has become so angered by the situation he has resigned his commission.  This has really vexed me as I really, really hate losing any Lengthsmen.

Cycling has become very popular over the last 10 -15 years, and just like walking and angling it is very pleasant and relatively safe to do along the towpath, as long as we all are considerate and neighbourly.  There is no quick and easy solution to this growing problem but I would urge you all to keep a perspective, perhaps keep away from the towpath at times that annoy you or make you feel vulnerable, keep talking to me and let’s work together. I have information leaflets available and if you can pinpoint a specific cause of the problem, like a particular firms employees, Fiona and I are very happy to visit and make a presentation or at the very least distribute information and guidelines.

Nothing is solved by your resignation. Nothing will be remedied overnight but together we might just make a difference.


I’m now going to have some therapeutic time in the garden admiring the crocuses and Daffs.

Hope to see you on March 27th. It won’t be the same without you.

All the very best,