Canal News April 23
Could you help create a secret garden in Smethwick?
We’re calling for an army of local volunteers in Smethwick in the West Midlands to lend a hand and help us transform a once thriving nature trail along the Birmingham Main Line Canal back to its former glory.
The Galton Valley Nature Trail was once farmland and a haven for plants and insects. The area is now looking unloved and unwelcoming so local people living in Smethwick are being asked to help the charity, Canal & River Trust, to recreate this canal side community garden.
The volunteers will be helping to clear pathways and cut back vegetation, plant a whole host of wildlife loving plants as well as putting up bird and bat boxes in the trees and installing reed beds to help improve water quality. There are also plans to create a community orchard which, once established, could provide fresh fruit to the local community via the local food bank network.
Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the west midlands waterways partnership for the Canal & River Trust, said: “The Galton Valley Nature Trail used to be beautiful and often you would spot bluebells and early summer raspberries poking through the trees and bushes. This part of the canal could once again be a really lovely beauty spot but we need help from local people to help us to revitalise this nature trail and attract more animals and insects back to this secret garden.
“We do have quite a bit of work to do and, where we have already made some small improvements, we have already noticed an increase in the amount of wildlife fluttering along the canal which was brilliant to see but more work needs to be done and we need everyone to muck in and help lend a hand.”
The next meeting is on Saturday 3 May from 10am – 3pm at the Smethwick Pumping House, B66 1BA.
Mon & Brec to reopen following major repairs
A stretch of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal will reopen to boats on 25 April, following around £1million of repairs to stabilise an embankment which had ‘slipped’ after it had become so saturated with rain over the wet winter period that it slumped down the hillside.
We’re installing almost 500 massive pins, each 10-15 metres long, along the canalside at Llanfoist in the Brecon Beacons. While the remainder of the canal has stayed open since work began in February, the full length of the waterway will now be navigable by boat for the first time this year, bringing a welcome boost to businesses in the area.
The final pins will be put in over the coming weeks, together with a mesh to secure them in place. New vegetation will be planted along the embankment to take the place of trees that had to be cut down to allow engineers to carry out the work. It is hoped that the towpath next to the affected stretch will reopen at the end of May; meanwhile walkers, cyclists and other towpath visitors can continue to use the canal thanks to a short diversion around the closed section.
Busy spring and summer
Vince Moran, operations director at Glandŵr Cymru, said: “We’re delighted to get the full length of the canal reopened in time for the busiest period of year. The Mon & Brec contributes millions to the local economy, so we hope this comes as good news for all those businesses who build their trade around a busy spring and summer.
“We saw unprecedented rainfall over the winter and it has required a major engineering project to repair the canal, with 500 pins effectively nailing the embankment back against the bedrock. We are pleased with how the work has gone and delighted that so many people have continued to visit the canal over the past two months. Now the navigation is open for business again we hope that even more people come and see one of the jewels of the canal system in the heart of the Brecon Beacons.”