Polecat spotted on Midlands canal
15th Feb 2012
There are signs that rare polecats have been making their homes on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. One of the rare nocturnal waterway predators was spotted on the canal near Wolverhampton.Bridges at Aldersley Junction
2 road bridges, a railway line and the water/sewage pipe all spanning the Staffs & Worcs canal between Aldersley Junction and the Oxley Moor bridge. © Copyright Richard Law and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
The animal was rescued by British Waterways and the RSPCA after being found swimming in a lock. It was cold and wet, but otherwise unharmed.
Polecats are related to otters and were trapped to near-extermination by gamekeepers and fur trappers in the early 1900’s. As a result, they are now listed on Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, meaning that they are protected from illegal trapping and persecution. Thanks to this protection, the number of polecats has started to increase, especially in Wales and southern and central areas of England.Polecat – Rebecca Palmer – cheshirewildlifetrust.co.uk
British Waterways’ ecologist Paul Wilkinson said “Having reported sightings of polecats using the canals as watery highways is absolutely fantastic. These animals are hard to track, as they do not leave many distinctive signs and often get confused with minks or ferrets. The fact that one has been seen is just brilliant news for conservation.
“Polecats mainly feed on rabbits, but they do have a varied diet. There is a range of habitats along the waterways, so there is a plentiful supply of prey, including frogs and toads”
Although polecats can make their own dens, they tend to use existing sites such as rabbit burrows and log piles. Polecats are often found in woodlands and hedgerows. The waterways offer a huge variety of well protected habitats and safe passage through the landscape for this elusive creature.
Iron Trunk Aqueduct, 26 February
Come along the open day at the Iron Trunk Aqueduct to find out what works British Waterways will be doing to help restore this waterway wonder.
The aqueduct celebrated its 200th birthday on 21 January last year. Engineers from British Waterways will be carrying out a series of works to help restore this iconic Georgian structure back to its former glory.
At the open day, a team of experts will show you what repairs are being carried out to the aqueduct and explain why it is in need of a makeover. You will delve into the history of the aqueduct, take a tour along and underneath it and join in guided walks along the canal.
The Iron Trunk Aqueduct carried the Grand Union Canal over the River Great Ouse and links the communities of Cosgrove and Wolverton (near Milton Keynes). Built by Leighton Buzzard-based canal engineer Benjamin Beaven, the aqueduct is in fact a replacement structure as the previous brick aqueduct fell down in the night on the 18 February 1808.
This project is being funded by a number of local organisations including the Heritage Lottery Fund, British Waterways, Wolverton Town Council and WREN
11am & 2pm
• Short talk by British Waterways’ manager about the history of the aqueduct and what works are taking place. Meeting point is beside the aqueduct.
11:30am & 2pm
• Guided circular walk, led by Milton Keynes Parks Trust, will depart from beside the Galleon Pub. The walks are expected to last a maximum of an hour and are not suitable for mobility users or pushchairs.
11am – 3pm
• Free trips boat trip (one way), between Cosgrove and Wolverton (trips last about 30 minutes)
• Galleon PH – refreshments, face painting, children’s activities, photographic display
• Car park, Wolverton – scavenger hunt for children, from the MK Parks Trust vehicle
• Below the aqueduct – demonstration of traditional harnessing for a working horse
• Beside the aqueduct – come and see historic narrowboats moored alongside the towpath
• Cosgrove Wharf – children’s activities on the MK Play Association’s Funion Bargee; refreshments aboard Elizabeth of Glamis
Booking is required to reserve your free place on the short talks or guided walks.
Location: Iron Trunk Aqueduct, Cosgrove, Bucks.
Parking: There is parking either at the public car park near to the Galleon Pub (Old Wolverton Road, Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes MK12 5PL) or at the car park alongside Cosgrove Caravan Park. British Waterways team member will be on hand to direct visitors from the car parks to the aqueduct.
IWA walk on the River DeeRiver Dee
© Copyright Dennis Turner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
23 February 2012
32 Handbridge, Chester, Cheshire, CH4 7JE
River Dee (Cheshire)
Join the Inland Waterways Association for a group walk along the River Dee in Cheshire.
The first half of the walk follows part of the long-distance footpath the Marches Way, beside the river. The second half returns along an attractive old carriageway called the Chester Approach. The walk is 4.2 miles and mainly flat.
Meet at the Grosvenor Arms. Memebers and non-members welcome.
Hanging around to repair Marple Aqueduct
10th Feb 2012
Specialist contractors are this week abseiling 100 feet off Marple Aqueduct to remove vegetation and carry out repairs. The Grade I-listed aqueduct on the Peak Forest Canal is overgrown with ivy, which is damaging the masonry.
British Waterways’ vegetation contractors will also be cutting back trees and bushes that are hiding the aqueduct from full view.
Marple Aqueduct: towpath looking west
© Copyright Christopher Hilton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Peak Forest Canal
The 200-year-old Marple Aqueduct is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, which carries the Peak Forest Canal over the River Goyt. It consists of three stone arches and was built between 1794 -1801.
Mark Ashton, contracts manager, British Waterways, said: “It will be a rare opportunity to watch the contractors hanging over this magnificent aqueduct to remove the overgrown vegetation which has built up over several years. The work that we are doing today will be the first step in safeguarding this important piece of local and national heritage for generations to come and it will make a huge difference to its overall appearance.”
An application to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to carry our further works to underpin the structural integrity of the aqueduct is being considered in the near future.Turflea Lift Bridge – Lifted. Upper Peak Forest Canal, Cheshire © Copyright Roger Kidd and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.