By Andy Gee
On 20 July 2019 I was awarded British Canoeing’s (BC) Community Champion Award on the back of our litter picks. After BC’s challenge in July 2019 Stuart & I decided to go after removing Floating Pennywort (FPW) from the River Stort. Peter & Helen Nash (Whoosh Principals) kindly sponsored the Project with free use of the canoes & kayaks. And we got tremendous help from Club Members. In eighteen months we had rid the River Stort of FPW, the first River group in recent times to make this achievement. Our methodology we called “The Stort System” is one of four ‘Case Studies’ shown on the Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) website which shows how we removed the FPW from Twyford Lock No 2 to Burnt Mill Lock No 10.
http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=144 half way down the page River Stort (PDF).
The photographs on this blog were all taken in the last five years between Harlow Mill & Burtt Mill, since myself and twin took up paddling. Whoosh Explore, were based at Redricks Lakes until about three years ago. And we still do litter picks from time to time in these two pounds. Parking at the River Way car park, this has also been a regular walk along the river with my dog for many years.
Whoosh Explore are active members of the River Stort Catchment Partnership (RSCP) and have initiated Project Himalayan Balsam Riddance from the River Stort Valley. We are Project 30 on this website. http://riverleacatchment.org.uk/…/1184-eradication-of… And also members of the Waterside Bishop Stortford Group.
Whoosh Explore are currently homeless and we are looking for a permanent base for our paddling activities. Taster sessions are still being held and can be booked at Whoosh Explore Canoe Club
05 Dec 2018 – This iconic picture which started our Environmental quests. Stuart in the stern. Haul of Generator Covers, bike & fridge internals. Plus two bags of plastic waste & litter.
08 Sep 2020 – Just below the Cattle Bridge on the walkway, river right, that takes you to the Moorhen Pub. A fire burnt out the walkway.
25 Aug 2020 – The Cattle Bridge (Bridge 18) had railings removed on the upstream side. The understanding is this had been done for ‘Tombstoning’ jumping into the water from the bridge. The C&RT repaired it promptly.
12 Mar 2021 – Opposite the Aqua Park, river left, this Cygnet was looking very subdued, it had a fish hook in it’s beak. The Swan Rescue folk collected the bird and we believe that it has since been returned to the river.
19 Sep 2021 – Water Vole in the Navigation opposite the Aqua Park. A poor picture, but the significance it’s the first Water Vole, I have seen there in over thirty years!!
16 Jun 2021 – Illegal Cray Fish Trap just below River Way car park (River Left). Reported to the Environmental Agency. Very sadly the same day as the previous picture, 26 Nov 2020, I found a dead Otter, just below Hunsdon Lock in an unlicensed trap.
26 Nov 2020 – The Canal & River Trust just started pruning the pound from Burnt Mill to Latton Island.
27 Apr 2020 – Fish fighting for breath after a month long dry spell. Just down from Latton Lock by the Mill Stream exit. The FPW which was trashed in December 2019 may have also effected the oxygen levels in the water.
18 Jan 2018 – Storm David – Disrupted the Whoosh Explore Canoe racks. When we were based at Redricks Lakes.
24 Sep 2020 – Litter Pick from Harlow Mill to Burnt Mill (photo credits, John Newman)
14 Jun 2020 – Pennywort Patrol – We
removed the FPW from the brambles in the Mill Stream below Latton Pool. We also did a litter pick & Stuart pulled out this chair.
26 Oct 2019 – FPW mat (river left) just before opposite Redricks Lakes entrance.
26 Oct 2019 – FPW small mat just above the inlet to Latton Mill Stream.
22 Dec 2019 – Storm Elsa trashed most of the FPW which sunk to the river bed, helping us considerably.
22 Nov 2019 – Three FPW mats are taking over Latton Pool, (Pike Pool)
20 Jul 2019 – British Canoeing challenged us ‘What are you going to do in Clean Ups Week’? We decided to go after the Floating Pennywort!!