The first of three week-long Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camps on the Wey & Arun has begun.

The Waterway Recovery Group camps will see 18 volunteers each week on a working holiday, which this year involves building the first of two lift bridges at Birtley, near Bramley. Volunteers span all ages and experience, from regular canal camp visitors to students looking to boost their engineering and construction experience, or gain their Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award.

Trust volunteers and the visiting Newbury Working Group Party have been preparing the site ahead of the camps since the 900metre stretch was acquired last year. The aim is to create a 2.5km circular footpath from the Down's Link and create a section of canal for caneoing and fishing. Many metres of stockproof boundary fencing have already been erected, field gates added, and an access track and surfaced towpath created in readiness for the bridge build.

Over the next three weeks the camp volunteers will construct the base of the bridge, which is a traditional counter-weight lift bridge, operated by a manually wound mechanical system. It will be largely constructed of steel, with some aluminum or timber components; the ramps will be blockwork below the waterline and brick-clad above.

The Trust has launched an appeal to fund the restoration work at Birtley. If you would like to donate, go to