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VOLUNTEERS are inviting people to join their latest project to restore a former waterway through the local countryside.
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is clearing a new section of the abandoned line between Melksham and Calne. The stretch at Green Lane Farm, near Derry Hill, is more than 760 metres long and once included a wharf. Workparties had to cut their way through dense undergrowth to reveal the route used by narrowboats carrying coal, grain and other cargo in the 1800s.
The Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch have been busy clearing the towpath, removing rubbish, laying hedges and planting trees. The charity hopes to create a valuable new amenity for the local community, similar to the popular stretch which has already been restored near Lacock.
Branch chairman Dave Maloney said, “When we first started work on this site it was completely impassable, and we had to use chainsaws to clear our way through the hawthorns and brambles. There was also a great deal of rubbish which had accumulated over the last hundred years, including rubble, glass and metal, all of which had to be carefully removed.
“We’re currently improving the towpath and using a habitat management plan to create a new wildlife corridor, and then we’ll start removing obstacles from the water before looking at the possibility of dredging.
“Longer-term, we would like to bring it up to the same standard as the stretch near Lacock which is now hugely popular with walkers, runners and cyclists, and clearly demonstrates the benefits and beauty of a restored canal.”
Workparties are normally held on two Saturdays each month. Email email@example.com
The aim of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is to restore the waterway from the Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham to the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon. Visit www.wbct.org.uk