BCA Update – Summer 2021
While still trying to keep up with the summer programme of work we are already well into planning stages for this coming winters work programme.
Works coming up include early winter works to repair Reading Rd Weir in Fleet. This is work that has been identified as a result of our weirs and sluices survey. Just one of many asset surveys that we carry out on the canal to keep it safe.
We are then planning to carry out bed relining of Crookham Deeps later this winter. This raised embankment is located just downstream of Crookham Wharf (chequers bridge). The area will be dammed at the bridges either end and dewatered to allow us to go in and remove silt and line the bed with a waterproof liner and clay to reduce leakage through the banks and canal bed.
There will be some work to finish off last years programme of work to towpath embayments in the Hampshire section of the canal and there will also be works to improve the access steps at Coxheath bridge and to repair the entrance to the car park at Barley Mow that has become very worn.
You’ll be pleased to hear that with some additional financial support from Hampshire County Council as part of their Path Recovery Programme (created as a result of damage cause by unprecedented high use of countryside sites during the pandemic). We are planning to repair and resurface a couple of our poorer sections of towpath such as between Ash lock and the Ash embankment railway bridge and a section near Norris bridge near Fleet.
We will also be repairing a section of towpath from Deepcut Rd bridge heading towards Frimley. Larger widening and resurfacing works are then planned for the section that runs parallel to the Deepcut locks over the next few years as a result of developer contributions from the Deepcut barracks housing development (Mindenhurst).
The towpath generally has taken a real battering during Covid with most places seeing a rise in foot and cycle traffic of at least a 100% rise and some places seeing as much as 300%. We have also had a busy season for visiting boats with 65 boats having already travelled to visit the canal from all over the country via the canal network. This has been helped by the wet summer we have had, meaning that the water levels have been kept high, allowing us to keep all the Locks open all season so far.
The Ranger team are busy at the moment working on the next round of towpath mowing, their 6 monthly towpath inspections, maintaining the locks and the annual treatment of the Japanese Knotweed. The knotweed can take many years to get rid of with carefully timed stem injection for the thicker plants and spraying for the smaller ones. Just one of many invasive species that we actively manage on the canal.
The canal volunteers are really getting back into action with numbers gradually building as people feel happier to return with their double vaccinations. The trip boats are now operating all along the canal and we have been having a busy summer at the Canal Centre with regular scenes that made it look like a beach, with sunbathing, ice creams and watersports. Our new Bell Tents have been popular for glamping and enjoyed by many, however there is still some availability, so please get in touch if you want a late summer/autumn break.
Fiona Shipp Canal Manager
Basingstoke Canal Authority