Sunday, 18 November 2012

Access to the River Kennet at Arrowhead Road

Access to the Kennet at its confluence with Drapers Osier Bed Stream has been lost as the landowner has decided to restrict access to a short section of the north bank of the river. This will principally affect anglers who have long regarded this short 100m section as a place for "free barbel fishing"

Access for paddlers downstream at Barbel Bar is unaffected, but for anyone who has found sufficiently high water levels to navigate Draper's Osier Bed Stream, the means to portage past the frequent tree fall strainers between the confluence with the main river and the weir is now reduced.

New signage at the start of Arrowhead Road...

...and further along at the start of the riverside path (to the right of the wheelie bin)... reinforced by newly erected fencing.

The reasons for this decision are unknown, but the littering that has blighted this stretch of the bank cannot have helped in continuation of the former acceptance of public access.

The Kennet at the confluence with Drapers Osier Bed Stream has received little respect from a minority of the public.  This image is from 2010...

...this image is from the same location in 2011...

...whilst the same abuse was evident in this image from the waterside taken just over two weeks ago.

Paddlers have recently been receiving more attention in the press for their efforts to combine their love of rivers with longstanding efforts to contribute to their upkeep by such as organising voluntary clean up trips.  Recent examples of this practice include the rivers Dart and Tavy in Devon, whilst on the River Medway, the local canoe club joined forces with local residents in July 2012 for a joint clean up. 

Canoeists joined anglers to help with a "twelve week initiative to clear litter from the upper Wye" that was completed in May this year, and perhaps it is now time for paddlers and anglers to start working together along the River Kennet to ensure a similar pooling of skills for the benefit of all who are users of the waterways.

Many of the riverine stretches of the Kennet receive considerable attention and care from angling associations and landowners, but with the best will in the world, there are still places that would benefit from additional eyes and the ability to tackle debris from both the river and the bank.

This hook and line was removed by a paddler from the Sulhamsted loop on 03.11.12...

...but this unintentional yet substantial snare for wildlife (click to enlarge and follow the bright threads to see just how much line is snagged; there was a family group of Long-tailed Tits, whose calls drew my initial attention, in the tree at the time), spotted in today's sunshine above Padworth Road bridge, was not so easily reached.  Perhaps an angler with loppers and a paddler to collect it from below would be the solution.