Hedges, Figs and Fungus

Community Roots is a three year Canal and River Trust project seeking to improve the environmental condition of the SSSI sections of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal (West) and the Rochdale Canal, it is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Jelly Ear, King Alfred Cakes and Inkcaps everywhere

I started in June when the canal was very green and buzzing with life, the canal obviously looked very different during the winter months. The foliage died back and much of the wildlife hibernated or migrated. But there was one lifeform that flourished and which I found fascinating. Fungus seemed to be more plentiful this winter than ever before with Jelly Ear, King Alfred Cakes and Inkcaps everywhere.

With the trees dormant we took the opportunity to give those on the stretch from Lock 1 W up to Stalybridge a good trimming back as they were shading out the aquatic plants and had started to become an obstacle for boats.

Most of these were the usual birch, alders and ash but right in the middle was an enormous fig tree that has seemingly sprung up out of nowhere. We cut these back and carried out similar work on a stretch on the Rochdale Canal near Failsworth. This will hopefully give a boost to the luronium and make it safer to navigate these stretches.

Hedgelaying courses

In December I found myself cycling up and down miles and miles of towpaths, trying to find a suitable hedge to run a hedgelaying course on. I thought I had found the perfect one in Marple – right next to toilets and parking and opposite a good chippy - only to realise it was shielding canal users from being pelted with balls from the adjacent golf course. I didn’t think I would be very popular if I hacked this back.

ScythesIn the end the course ran in Disley and people travelled from as far as Mossley and Littleborough to learn this traditional method of maintaining healthy hedges. During the spring we are running more courses in countryside skills such as dry stone walling and traditional grassland management which people would be very welcome to attend. The Grassland Management course will involve the use of scythes and I was very excited when these fascinating looking tools arrived!

We are also continuing to run towpath tidy days in Stalybridge which are always good muddy fun and I would be very keen to extend these to other areas of the SSSI if people are interested. To get in touch please contact me on rhys.wynne@canalrivertrust.org.uk or https://www.facebook.com/rhys.wynne.5


Last date edited: 14 March 2016

About this blog

Community Roots

Community Roots (North) is an exciting three-year conservation project supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It’s based along the SSSI areas on the Huddersfield Narrow and Rochdale Canals in Greater Manchester, and aims to engage the local communities with these special environments. An additional strand of the project is based in Birmingham.

Julianne Joyce, Community Roots Project Officer is going to keep us updated on the project's progress.

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