THE Grand Union is (slightly) quieter than some other areas in the south east, though our volunteers at Foxton for example have a constant flow of boats, writes Edward Moss, National Volunteering Manager, Canal & River Trust.
On top of this the restrictions coupled with very poor weather to date have reduced lock movements by up to 40 to 50%. Whilst we have now lifted all navigation restrictions in mid June the weather has continued to be poor and lockage numbers particularly low. This makes the volunteers' help no less important as they don't purely assist boats through locks.
The volunteers at Marsworth for instance have been pruning overhanging branches and assisting the reservoir keeper with some painting. More of this is planned as we recruit more volunteers. If ‘your man' in Tring would like to join us, we'd be happy to meet him.
We should reiterate that the volunteers' assistance is not compulsory—they are there to offer help and guidance. Comments which we've had back from customers have been very positive and some more detailed research which we're working on into the value of volunteer lock keepers on the Shropshire Union Canal has shown their worth far exceeds saving water and assisting boaters, and I'm sure that these results will be equally valid in Marsworth.
The joy of being a volunteer is that you don't have to be busy to be effective. The volunteer lock keepers are there to talk to people using the towpath, spot and report any maintenance issues and get involved with other localised practical tasks with the paid workforce.
Being out on the towpath gives greater presence on the canal should anyone enjoying the waterways need contact with CRT as quick as possible. The benefits to the volunteers are wide ranging from simply being out of the house and keeping fit to passing on existing skills and knowledge and meeting new people.
I can also confirm that we're working with the Inland Waterways Association Chiltern branch to plan a day in early August to clear the Himalayan Balsam which you mention. If your man would like to join us for this, again we'd be happy to welcome him.
I'll take this opportunity to thank all the people who are helping us as volunteer lock keepers. If anyone else is interested in helping to look after the canals and rivers with us, please contact: