Happy to see the rain…

for once. We Lengthsmen can, from time to time, be a bit grumpy when it rains. The sleep deprivation of hourly weir checks through the night mean when it’s been wet, particularly for weeks on end, we aren’t always glad to see it. Today however I am more than pleased it’s finally here. The grass has started to get a bit brown in places, despite my care not to cut it too short. You can almost hear the trees and grass breathing a sigh of relief.

The biggest problem is that the dry start to the year follows 2 dry winters meaning river levels and ground water levels haven’t been topped up. While I’ve been able to keep the levels in the navigation steady the natural river is suffering. It’s the lowest it’s been in my time here. I’ve had to put my summer boards in for the first time in over 6 years. As well as being able to control the levels by opening and closing the 4 regular and 3 flood weir gates, I can insert boards between the piers of the bridge to restrict the flow. In the last week I’ve had to use 4 to keep more water in the navigation. This ensures boats still have enough water to move freely and the delicate banks aren’t damaged by fluctuating levels. 

It might be low tech but it works just fine. It’s another of the things we do here that I imagine is pretty much unchanged since the navigation opened in the 1650s. I love the continuity of that. I’m the most recent in an extremely long, unbroken line to be keeping an eye on the weather to keep the river and it’s users safe. And I’m sure shortly  if this continues I’ll be cursing not having been more careful what I wished for, like my predecessors before me.


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