The weather is going through another "fleece or t-shirt" period. One day it is out with the sun cream and on another out with the cagoule and galoshes...
Work has continued over here at the main worksites namely West Challow where we are nearing completion of the fencing along the planned permissive footpath section. Our thanks to the landowners and to Mr & Mrs Ayres in the house next to the canal for putting up with the changes. The footpath from Silver Lane along towards the west has been improved and the first gate put in. This will remain chained and padlocked until we finish all the way through. Once again thanks to N power for funding the fencing.
It should not be too long now before the permissive footpath can he opened through to the Childrey footpath. This then will act as an extension to the public footpath along the towpath to West Challow bridge, and will enable walkers to avoid the road.
The Wantage Summer Festival is in full swing at the moment. As part of the festivities we have once again laid on two guided walks. The first of these was advertised as a West Challow to Grove walk but I took a vote on the evening and did a circular walk instead from West Challow up to Childrey, back to Childrey Wharf and across the fields back to West Challow. I was pleasantly surprised by the good number of those attending (around a dozen). I was even more surprised by the 30 or so people who turned up fur tile second walk on last Tuesday. We took a circular route from East Challow into Wantage, along the old Wantage Branch. I am sorry to say that even the gate posts which I thought were being retained have now disappeared. The wharf site is now covered by large blocks of flats and the only building remaining is the sack house at the old entrance. All in all very depressing, but unfortunately with most of the branch having virtually disappeared under housing estates it was a lost cause. I would have liked to have seen more of the wharf retained as a feature, but Wantage seems to be a case of "cram as many houses in as possible in a small space" at the moment. From the junction with the main line we walked back across the canal to East Challow. Again the weather was kind to us.
In between I did a walk with the local scout group, and also a talk at Drayton Church as part of their history week. Those attending showed great interest and local knowledge.
In my original draft of this report I made mention of how we were looking forward to a workparty at Childrey Wharf. We also decided to have a BBQ...but were defeated by the weather. To be honest it tipped down all afternoon. This has, however, been postponed to a workparty at Abingdon
At this stage I should like to again praise the stalwart work party attendees. Progress is there for all to see at West Challow and, judging by the comments heard, well received.
I hope to be speaking to the local landowners to keep them abreast of what is going on, and our hopes for the future in the Vale. Of course they should he receiving the news sheets from time to time, but I can think of several whom have not been contacted for some time.
I should also like to take this opportunity to thank Geof Austin, long-time member of the Trust and East Vale Branch Geof has retired from the committee and the official positions held including local authority liaison. Without his in depth knowledge of the local engineering issues and his involvement in the Thames Water Reservoir liaison we would not be where we arc today. So thanks to Geof and to Joan for her patience in the face of mountains of canal paperwork and endless meetings.
I hope to see some of you at the September dance and at the Abingdon meeting.
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