19/07/15 Litter pick and balsam bashing

Hawker's Bridge

CATCH members inspecting the river beneath Hawker’s Bridge.

On the morning of Sunday, 19th July, the CATCH team assembled for another session of litter and invasive plant removal from the Cale. The good news, which was almost immediately clear, is that there is far less litter being thrown into the river than was once the case; most of the large objects which we removed had clearly been there for many years and were deeply buried, only now becoming retrievable because the opening of the weir at Hawker’s Bridge has lowered the water level through the park.


A wire mesh basket had blocked the culvert entirely.

Included in the haul today were two bicycles, two road traffic cones, a Morrison’s shopping trolley and a very old, almost unrecognisable, microwave oven. The most significant removal, however, may have been a wire mesh basket which had become stuck in the culvert which runs alongside Southgate Road and feeds into the Cale at Hawker’s Bridge. The basket had become a repository for all of the litter, as well as the natural weeds, silt and mud, flowing though the culvert, and had effectively blocked the entire stream for some way back. Removal of this object has enabled the culvert to flow freely once more.

As well as litter picking, the team removed a large quantity of Himalayan balsam from the riverbanks. This invasive species, as has been noted before, tends to displace native plants from the banks and then wilt completely in winter, leaving nothing to hold the banks together. Fortunately, the very reason that it wilts completely, the shallow roots, make it easy to remove, and it can be disposed of without any of the complications that attend more problematic plants such as Japanese knotweed.

himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam being pulled from the riverbank

All in all, it was a very profitable and worthwhile morning. Thanks go to the Wincanton Town Council, who have donated storage space at the David Sharp Centre, as well as the use of its kitchen facilities for refreshments. Also a mention of thanks to the Fine Food Company, as our chairman’s wife was the winner of a large tub of their ice cream from a Facebook competition and generously donated it to the group!

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