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Finishing touches put to Birtley Bridge site

Students from St Catherine’s School in Bramley have been lending a hand to get the canal towpath at Birtley in shape this week.

The Year 11 girls donned gloves and picked up their tools to cut back vegetation and clear invasive weeds ahead of a members’ guided walk planned at the site on the morning of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust Annual Meeting on July 31st.

With exams finished the activity week provided a chance for the pupils to leave the classroom behind, help their local community and learn more about the abandoned canal on their doorstep.

The students also got to grips with Himalayan Balsam pulling, an invasive non-native weed that can smother other indigenous plants. July is the perfect month to pull the balsam, before the plant has a chance to set seed.

Last month a weekend working party installed the temporary bridge deck at the site. The bridge deck had been constructed last October and overwintered at Tickner’s Heath awating the end of lockdown to allow volunteers the opportunity to finish the job.

The two-tonne deck was made from timbers utilised at Drungewick Lock, where they had been put into action as props during lock repairs, alongside many metal joining pieces and bolts.

The structure was transported to its new home late last month when volunteers spent several days installing it and fitting the kickboards, Douglas Fir timber planking and hand railings.

The bridge’s completion means members will be able to experience the circular walk that the Trust has created in this particularly stunning part of the countryside. The walk will be flanked by the Downs Link path above and Cranleigh Waters in the valley below.

To register for the July walk, which also takes in the recently acquired section at Rooks Hill and Fanesbridge, please go to:

The walk will be opened to the public later in the year.



Gill Davies
Thursday, July 1, 2021
  • Students from St Catherine's in Bramley helped tidy the towpath at Birtley this week.
  • The Year 11 girls volunteered as part of an activity week, giving them the chance to learn more about the canal on their doorstep.
  • A weekend working party installed the deck of the first Birtley Bridge late last month.
  • The team was made up of visiting volunteers who stayed at a local pub, and regular working party members.
  • The top structure is made from locally-sourced Douglas Fir. (Photo by Roger Beazer).
  • Members will get to use the bridge at the members' guided walk on July 31st. (Photo by Roger Beazer).