Monday, June 22, 2015

Cleaning the Wandle June 2015

Watermeads Nature Reserve, Poulter Park. Sunday 14-Jun-2015

Last time Mary and I walked this stretch the Watermeads Nature Reserve was not open so we had to walk along the railings looking wistfully at the river bank. Now the reserve it open to the public so the Wandle Trust were able to gain access for the first ever clear up on this stretch.

"Watermeads, a National Trust nature reserve along the River Wandle, opened to the public in May 2015 having been hidden behind locked gates for 100 years. National Trust founder Octavia Hill and her sister Miranda personally started the appeal to save Watermeads. The 11 acre site has recently had new paths, bridges and a sluice, to improve the wetlands habitat for wildlife and public access. " Watermeads nature reserve in South London

Despite being inaccessible to the public there was the inevitable shopping trolley but generally there was not much rubbish compared to other stretches. The guys in the water must have been newbies because they starting working downstream. That means you are working in your own stirred up silt and it is impossible to see the debris in the water, you have to work by feel. I gave up and switched to wheelbarrow duty; less glamorous but still an essential part of the teamwork.

None of the wheelbarrows are Ninja-silent but "Sean" is the worst culprit. However today, after several years, I finally remembered to bring a can of bicycle oil and give all the barrows' axles a good squirt. At long last peace reigns!

A major theme of the day was invasive species, this time not Himalyan balsam but Floating pennywort: "Floating pennywort can grow up to 20 centimetres a day, blocking out light and reducing the oxygen for other plants and animals". There is a pond as part of the reserve which was completely covered in the stuff.

Part of the team did a major piece of aquatic weeding.

A lovely day out!

The Wandle Trust is an environmental charity dedicated to restoring and maintaining the health of the River Wandle and its catchment. They hold community river cleanups on the second Sunday of every month, up and down this unique urban chalkstream – pulling out everything from shopping trolleys to shotguns, and improving the environment for birds, fish, insects and local people. For more visit:

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