18 March 2019

WRG Forrestry go cherry picking

(Phase 1B)

by: Jon P.

The future site of the re-connection of the Stroudwater Navigation and the River Frome at Lockham, Whitminster was blocked by 70 years of tree growth.   The largest culprit was a huge 3-trunked Crack Willow, with one trunk fallen horizontally in the canal, one at 30° and one at 60°.   WRG Forestry were asked to tackle the removal of this tree and, rather than use climbers to remove section from the height, they elected to use hired-in mechanization.   Steve P organised for Ermin Plant to deliver a rough terrain MEWP (mobile elevated work platform), more commonly known as a ‘cherry picker’, to Stonepitts Bridge.   Friday saw Nigel Lee of WRG Forestry deploying his team to the MEWP to access the furthest extremities of the Willow, firstly to inspect the tree for nesting birds, followed by chainsaw work, and interspersed with activity on the ground to chop up (or section) the fallen limbs and remove the brash to a bonfire.

Other members of the team attempted to winch the horizontal trunk to dry land, where it could also be sectioned.   Jon P led the gang retrieving the logs, and was responsible for the (less scary) ground-based chainsaw work.

On Saturday, WRG Forestry were joined by KESCRG, who de[played a team further east along the canal, and also worked on other tasks led by Steve P at Newtown Lock and Clowes Lock, Chalford.   The wind on Saturday, however, proved too strong – not for the stability of the MEWP, but because the tree was moving too much.

Sunday was calmer, so the MEWP was back in action again, leaving just simple trunks for later felling (they’re very thick – up to 1m in diameter, and very heavy).

Once again, a very successful long weekend and another task ‘ticked off the list’ of Phase 1B – Cotswold Canals Connected projects.