From the Riverbank - Bob's Ramblings

12 May 2017
May Memo

Rather than chuntering on about how little rain there has been in recent months, perhaps for a change we might look at how much worse it might be. The graph below shows how groundwater dip levels were even lower in dry spells in 1991, 1997, 2006 and 2012. In the 1991/92 episode, Shardeloes Lake dried up. Going back in time there was a drought in 1771 when Deep Mill stood idle and another in 1884 when the gap in the river between the Chalfonts is noted. And so it goes through the ages, records of dry spells and floods, memories of swimming in the river and photos of a dry bed by the pond at CSG, all confirming the variability of the Misbourne.

 

Nevertheless, there seems little doubt that cherishing the watercourse from Amersham onward has made a difference to the ability of what water there is to find its way along the surface rather than sinking into the ground. As such, it remains pleasing and a bit of a surprise that flow is continuing, even under more challenging circumstances than in 2008/9 when flow ceased above CSG.

So, dates for more cherishing work parties:
Sunday 21st May morning and afternoon
Wednesday 14th June
Saturday 17th June morning and afternoon
Please let me know if you can join us on the 21st stating whether morning or afternoon (or both) and wader size if I don't already have it.

And dates for talking about cherishing:
Thursday 15th June at 7.45pm at Merlin’s Cave, Chalfont St Giles
or join us at Chalfont St Peter Feast Day on Saturday 24th June (help on the stand always appreciated)

27 March 2017
April Approaches

Its been a good few weeks for welcoming new supporters, of whom one has already enjoyed a work day, another is brimming with enthusiasm for doing good things in the Missenden area, and another is joining use this coming Saturday.

Yes, indeed, this is "2nd bell” for work parties this Saturday 1st April at 09.30 and 1.30. Thanks to those who have already signed up and, if you can join us, even for an hour or so, please let me know. I will send orders of the day during Friday pm when I know how many we will be and what jobs to prioritise: there are many from an expeditionary force to the Mill leat N of Chalfont St Giles to see what the winter has wrought, thru’ to forming river view points between the brambles alongside the footpath by CSP Community Centre.

For those who prefer weekdays, we will have another bash on Wednesday 26th April - again please let me know.

Our last two “not-a-meetings” have been very interesting with a good group the month before and an opportunity to talk in some detail with our two new friends from Missenden last week. Once again, we will be having a drink and a natter in the White Hart, Chalfont St Peter, on Thursday 20th from 7.45 pm. I understand that the spokes person for Affinity Water at the Chiltern Society talk at the weekend was quite positive about what is going on with the Misbourne and, particularly, their programme to reduce abstraction from the lower reaches. I look forward to more detail from any of you who might have been there.

A notable find beside the allotments in Chalfont St Peter during our endeavours a couple of weeks back was this little fellow who one of our experienced anglers is quite certain is a brown trout.

 

We look forward to seeing you in or by the river soon

08 March 2017
March Mixture

The day of our first work party of the year found several of us low with the bug. As it was snowing, others understandably decided against a paddle in freezing water, but not everyone and, amazingly, the village centre section of Chalfont St Peter and St Giles were cleared of winter debris. Now that’s dedication to the cause!

Hopefully the elements will be kinder for our efforts next Tuesday 14th starting 10.30. Thanks to those who have already signed up - if you can join us too, please let me know by Sunday and I will be in touch on Monday with plans for the day. I’m already aware of a few large branches deposited by Storm Doris to be cleared away. After Tuesday, your next opportunity will be Saturday 1st April - again please let me know if you can join us. Work at this time of year can make a lot of difference to the amount we need to do later on and the presentation of the river for passers by.

After the last couple of weeks, you won’t want me to be going on about a lack of rain. Suffice to say that groundwater levels on the 1st March were the second lowest we have seen in our ten years of detailed study. The upper reaches of the Misbourne have remained stubbornly dry and, at present, I am not placing any bets that we can sustain flow through the Chalfonts for another year ………… but we will try.

Chalfont St Peter Feast Day is on Saturday 26th June and we will again be having a stall. Help for an hour or so on the day would be much appreciated and I do hope we can lay on the displays of creepy-crawlies from the river which are always such a draw.

And a final date for your diary - we will have a “not-a-meeting” in the refurbished White Hart, Chalfont St Peter, on Thursday evening 23rd March from 7.45. It was good to see a couple of new faces at our last: why not come along for a natter?

10 January 2017
January Jubilation

In December, we were surprised and disappointed that the Misbourne, having reached the beginning of November flowing all the way to the Colne, suddenly ceased in Chalfont St Peter. Well, it appears that the problem was most likely not down to the supernatural but a blockage upstream of Quarrendon Mill leading to much of the flow escaping into the fields. Allen Beechey, our guru from the Chilterns Conservation Board, reported that he had been in discussion with the landowners and tenant regarding the issue but that he, personally, had cleared the immediate problem in a few minutes. We noticed flow resume hesitantly through Chalfont St Peter at about that time and has been continuous since a few days later.

Assuming, as seems very likely, that this was the cause this is triple good news ! A) We have flow again. B) Our predictions based on groundwater levels and rainfall were not confounded. C) It is a really strong example of the impact of exactly the type of minor maintenance work that we have been undertaking for over 8 years. So we had plenty to celebrate at our 9th Annual Dinner. Let’s hope we can reflect upon continued success at the 10th later this year. We look forward to seeing you there: it will be on Thursday 14th December, unless I receive a lot of appeals - try not to double book!

Meanwhile, groundwater levels at the beginning of 2017 were generally similar to the well below average readings of 2016 (also below average in Jan 2015) and the 12 month rainfall at 575 mm (Chalfont St Peter) remains below the 25 year average of 618 mm.

And so, to work! Our first outing of 2017 will be on Saturday 11 February - probably the usual 2 shifts, starting at 09.30 and 1.30. Please let me know if you will be joining us, for which shift, and wader size if I don’t already have it. I am thinking of breaking the mould and having a work party on Tuesday 14th March starting 10.30am and would be very interested to know if that might suit you as well, or better than weekends. There will be a “not-a-meeting” - a general chat about local matters, river and otherwise, or indeed anything else, at The White Hart, Chalfont St Peter on Thursday at 7.45pm: all welcome, just turn up.

As ever, we look forward to seeing you in or by the river

06 December 2016
December Disappointment

Well, having reached the beginning of November with flow all the way through the Chalfonts, we were really confident that it would continue for the full year despite another year of below average rainfall and groundwater levels. Alas, it was not to be and on 14th November flow ceased in Chalfont St Peter and has remained so except when there has been some short-term storm run-off. As our groundwater dipping team report, "it is difficult to explain because the water table levels are mainly higher at all sites compared with the same time last year when we had continuous flow from downstream of the hospital through to the R. Colne”.

I don’t think it is all because we cancelled our work day in November due to poor weather and my ‘man-flu’. Maybe, we should reconsider the folklore that these ladies believed in January 1939?
 More likely though, it seems that there is a swallow hole just upstream of St Peter’s tennis courts in the area where we normally see springs early in the year, and the water is going in rather than coming out!

Anyway, we can still look forward to enjoying our 9th annual MRA dinner on 15th December - yes, just 9 days away. Thanks to all who have already let me know you are coming but if you haven’t and will be joining us for this convivial evening at The Greyhound, please let me know now - certainly by Saturday. Price is 3 courses for £26.00 or £22.50 for 2 courses. I’ll be sending out menus at the weekend for you to chose or you could take a sneak preview at MRA Dinner Menu Let’s all celebrate the achievements of our first 8 years and give our long suffering spouses and/or friends a treat.

If, unfortunately, you won’t be with us, I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a happy and peaceful Christmas time and to send best wishes for the New Year when, as ever, we look forward to seeing you in or by the river

Take care

08 November 2016
November Nagging

"And so today to the House of Lords", as Samuel Pepys might have said. Yes, indeed, the group “SaveStGiles" presented to the HS2 Select Committee our concerns that HS2 construction may risk the fragile river that we cherish through the Chalfonts. Part of the pitch was an appeal for the tunnel to run deeper, below the heavily fractured chalk, and the other was for environmentally sympathetic Bentomat lining for just 200m upstream and downstream of the crossing points. Both arguments were well made but, despite our best nagging, one is very conscious that the huge HS2 empire has very expensive lawyers and very close connections with the Environment Agency team who share their offices. We will see, but we did our best.

We were a bit stretched again last workday - another when the “really sorry I can’t join you this time”’s significantly outnumbered the positives. Nevertheless, we achieved our objective and things are fairly shipshape from Bottom House Farm Lane through to Cherry Acre and again through Chalfont St Peter. We would like to at least have a go at the relatively short, relatively easy outstanding piece between Cherry Acre and CSP on Sunday 20th November Please let me know if you can join us, morning or afternoon.

But Nag No.3, is the big one! Please let me know as soon as you can if you are joining us for dinner at The Greyhound on 15th December. 2 courses £22.50; 3 courses just £26 and always good fun and good value ……….. and a chance to spoil your non-fluvial partner.

After all the nagging, it’s time to celebrate:

we have some flow all the way from Amersham through the Chalfonts for the 4th successive full year despite groundwater levels being generally a metre below 10 year average all year and 12 month rainfall being only some 80% of a normal year.

Affinity Water have reported that they are on track with their programmes to reduce abstraction in the Chilterns and specifically the Misbourne catchment in 2018 and 2020

Our long list of supporters continues to grow and we have had several new and very welcome volunteers join us on workdays in the year

And, I’ve got a House of Lords pen!

Hope to see you on 20 Nov and particularly on 15th December.

15 October 2016
October Opportunities

A fantastic effort from your 12 volunteers on the September Work Day. Everyone was shattered but really satisfied to have opened the channel that had all but disappeared all the way from the start of the sheepfield to Cherry Acre. The before and afters below give you an idea. We were also delighted to find more little fish - good whitebait size - in the river than I have ever seen between the Chalfonts before.

Hopefully, you have remembered that our next, and possibly last work party in 2016 is next Saturday, 22nd October. We will be doing some autumn tidying - probably not too strenuous, in both villages and, if necessary through the woods. Plenty for everyone of all ages and abilities. Please let me know if you can join us and I will send out suggested team and task details on Friday. I would prefer to keep it to the morning only but, if you want to join in and can only do afternoon, let me know and we will be happy to sort something out to suit you.

Also coming up sooner than you might think is our annual dinner on Thursday 15th December! Don’t get “double-booked”: make sure it’s in your diary and book as soon as you can. Always a good, fun, informal evening (no speeches, no reports!)

26 August 2016
August Alerts

It was good that we had a reasonable number of volunteers for our work day on 31st July because we found the river had very nearly disappeared under the jungle of the field just upstream of CSG library. After much hard work it was persuaded to reappear and follow the prescribed route. Now, despite this mainly glorious weather, it has continued to trickle down to CSP and beyond. Another group bravely tackled brambles and nettles downstream of CSP centre………………… a good and satisfying time was had by all!!!

However, before we get too cheerful, please note that our troubles above CSG were probably due to the very low numbers of helpers for our work-days earlier in the year which had meant that this area had not had its relatively quick and easy spring trim. Indeed it seems our efforts so far this year have just, (only just) failed to maintain the progress made over the past years when it really seemed that we had got to a sustainable condition from Amersham to Chalfont Park.

Given such an opening you will be expecting a stern call to arms for the work party pencilled in for 3rd September. Alas, such are the pressures of being retired that it is necessary to reschedule to Saturday 17th September. As usual, we will have a morning session from 09.30 and an afternoon follow on from 1.30 p.m. Our focus is likely to be through CSG centre towards the sheep field, encouraging another year of continuous flow through the valley. Please let me know if you can join us for one or both of these shifts, together with your shoe size for waders if you aren’t sure I already know.

By the way, looking ahead, I can already see a need to also postpone our October frolic from the 8th to the 22nd. One date that remains firm is our 9th Annual MRA Dinner which we hope you have firmly in your diary for Thursday 15th December.

As for news:
You may have seen the articles in the local papers regarding the petition from “Save St Giles” to the House of Lords regarding HS2. The petition can be found at http://www.savestgiles.com/uploads/7/4/7/7/74773905/petition_short_hol.pdf .
Arrangements are in hand for qualified and authorised personnel to deal with a recurrence of Japanese Knotweed at a couple of locations in Chalfont St Peter. Remember there are legal controls regarding this horrible plant. Sister groups, particularly on the River Chess have made good progress with elimination of two other invasive species - Himalayan and Orange Balsam. This year we have had less of a problem than previously and may also be getting somewhere.
One of you recently completed our 1,000th volunteer shift. Over 150 of you have given at least one shift since we began and over 150 of you have yet to do so. If everybody was to do one shift - say 3 hours - every two years, I think we could cope very nicely. Perhaps we can start with a good showing on 17th September?

22 July 2016
July Jolly

We hope the more seasonal weather of the past few days has been to your taste.

Not much river news this month. Stands of Japanese knotweed in Chalfont St Peter are a bit of a concern. In 2013, reporting them to EA was sufficient to mobilise trained and licensed teams to treat the problem - with considerable success. However, these days, it appears that EA are unable to respond and I have arranged with other licensed personnel to visit in August. Do remember that tackling it yourself is not appropriate. Arisings have to be disposed of as “hazardous waste” - similar to asbestos. It is illegal to allow it to spread and, because, each little piece can become a new, vigorous, invasive plant wherever it settles, it is pretty well impossible to cut it without thus breaking the law.

If you remember June as particularly wet, you aren’t wrong: 73.4 mm in CSP compared with a 10 year average of about 50 mm, but actually not so exceptional when, only 4 years ago June 2012 yielded 123 mm. And don’t rely too much on the rest of summer as August 2008 gave us a soggy 117 mm so enjoy summer while it lasts. Anyway, one way or another, River Misbourne flows nicely at present in the lower reaches, though interesting to note that the winterbourne flow apparently never reached up to Great Missenden this year.

Our little session on 2nd July was useful and significantly improved flow up and downstream of CSP centre. It would be good to have some more support for our next work party on Sunday 31st July. Key work areas will be through the field immediately above CSG library and a short section outstanding just below CSP centre. Others would, no doubt, benefit from your attention and I’ll add them in if we have enough muscle-power. So, morning or afternoon or both. An hour, a shift, or a day - you decide, (though our preference that particular day is p.m.) Please let me know asap (with your shoe size for waders) if you can join us and I will get back to you during Saturday with arrangements for the day.

Well, that’s all folks! Hope to see you soon by, or in the river

14 June 2016

First a reminder that tomorrow, Wednesday, we will be having a quick tidy-up and blockage removal of as many key points as we have people for from 2.00. Let me know if you can join us and we’ll sort out some task groups.

Last week, The Save St Giles (SSG) group invited me to join them in presenting their concerns to HS2 representatives, ahead of their submission to the House of Lords. We sat in the Merlin’s Cave garden having strolled beside the Misbourne on a beautiful day. Speaking for SSG, two eminent geologists expressed surprise that the proposed tunnel route was not much deeper below the surface in view of the poor quality of the chalk in the valley downstream of Amersham. Broadly, these concerns are similar to mine - i.e. there is arguably a risk that disturbance of cracks and fissures in the chalk could encourage greater loss of water through the bed and ground below leading to loss of the river. As usual, HS2 were suave and impassive in their responses but good points were made and we remain unconvinced that “monitoring” is a credible form of mitigation.

Chalfont St Peter Feast Day is on June 25th and we (and 90 other stalls) will be delighted to see you there. We will have the display from the invertebrate monitoring team - complete with intriguing creatures that was such a hit at the St Giles Show last year, together with our usual displays of “before” and “after” photos, chalk stream facts and figures. We always need some of you too, just to explain what we do, demonstrate we are quite normal and friendly really and that cherishing our river is actually quite enjoyable.

Let’s hope it will again be a good, fine day for Feast Day - it usually is, in the same way that The Queen does usually seem rather unlucky with weather for her celebrations, including the Coronation if you recall?! Contrary to our usual grumbles, total rainfall in the Chalfonts in the past twelve months remains well below the average of the past ten years and even more significantly below the long term average. Nevertheless, the last 6 months total has at least been about average and, with groundwater levels a bit higher than last year, it looks likely that we will again see flow continuing through the rest of the year.

The chances of sustaining that into future years also depends, of course, on our looking after it! Your next opportunity (after tomorrow, of course) is on Saturday 2nd July, morning and/or afternoon - please let me know if you can join us and, as usual, I’ll send out orders of the day to you just beforehand. Maybe we’ll have some fresh, keen faces from Feast Day? If booking ahead, note that we are scheduled for the one after on Sunday 31st July.

More good news - The White Hart in Chalfont St Peter has re-opened. “Not-a-meeting” will be there for a drink and a catch-up on river news on Wednesday 29th June from 7.30 p.m. - hope to see you there, at Feast Day, or by or in the river very soon

01 May 2016

Not much news to share this month.

We made a small contribution to the SaveStGiles petition to the House of Lords regarding routing and depth of HS2 and hope to have the opportunity later in the month to put concerns regarding a risk of damage to flow to the HS2 team. A copy of a paper on this subject is now posted on the website on the “MRA in Consultation” page.

Three groups achieved their goals at Misbourne Farm, St Giles and St Peter during our last work day on 2nd April and all reported favourably on the overall cleanliness and flow in the river.

Subject to responses to the next paragraph, our next scheduled day is next Saturday 7th May and, given the date today, we had best consider this note to be "1st and 2nd bells”. It seems as if the weather may be good. Happy to go with a majority view as to whether we work morning or afternoon so, if replying, please state preference - also your wader size if any chance I don’t already have it. As usual, I will email details on Friday to those who have signed up.

As suggested by some, we have also been thinking about a weekday work party for a change but finding a date has been awkward. However, if more of you come back with a preference for Monday 16th or Monday 23rd over Saturday 7th, we seem to have an opportunity to try it this month. We certainly won’t be ding all of them, so please say your piece.

That’s all folk

Looking forward to seeing you by or in the river soon

23 March 2016

Our mad March day associated with “Clean for the Queen”, and accompanied by flurries of sleet, certainly achieved some attractive results in both CSP and CSG, together with some good publicity and a few new volunteers. Possibly, like me, you wonder why on earth “Clean for the Queen” suddenly came out of nowhere to a date in early March - I don’t know!! Maybe, the concept will be tried again nearer the June celebrations. By the way, despite rumours to the contrary, no, it wasn't us who attacked the trees, decimated the fences and obstructed the road adjacent to CSP football ground.,

People keep saying to me that they are not surprised the river is running well as “we’ve had so much rain”. The Environment Agency publishes an interesting monthly round up of various hydrological data for SE England from which relevant highlights are that February Rainfall in the E Chilterns was only 86% of Long Term Average but, more importantly, the cumulative rainfall over the winter recharge period 114%. Our own data for the Chalfonts suggests rather lower figures but it is, of course, the rain up in the Chiltern hills that sets the pattern for river flow in following months. Graphs on the EA site show groundwater levels only now returning to “normal” territory after being below average for the best part of last year. This is reflected by the extent to which the river dried up north of Little Missenden and is now recovering, and perhaps supports a claim that we have helped maintain flow below Amersham through the Chalfonts when, without our efforts it might have disappeared?

Two very different outings in February: one to talk to Masters students at Brunel University at a seminar alongside others from, for example the wonderful London Wildlife Trust. Great talks but a totally dispiriting lack of audience engagement. The other to the cubs at Little Kingshill - a lovely evening! The boys listened intently, asked dozens of intriguing questions and scored very well in our little Misbourne Quiz - a credit to themselves and their dedicated “Akela" and her team. We look forward to doing some outdoor activities with them later in the year.

Those of you who cherish the provisional dates in an earlier missive will see that our next work date was booked for Saturday 2nd April. I know someone does as he’s been in touch to check that it is going ahead - (now that has to be a first!). Yes, indeed it is - please let me know if you can join us for what might be a rather more irriguous and less horticultural occasion than the last one. Future probable dates are also published on the website, together with usual monthly data updates etc.

Meanwhile, we look forward to chatting with anyone who would like to join us for “Not-a-meeting” at The Greyhound, Chalfont St Peter, next Thursday from 7.45 p.m. All welcome, just turn up, and, if you wish, bring suggestions for how we could do better, your Misbourne anecdotes, watercourse queries or just local gossip.

12 February 2016

We hope you have enjoyed a happy and healthy winter break from Misbourne matters and my waffling.

True, we have had a lot of rain recently; although nothing compared with many poor souls in other parts. January rainfall in the Chalfonts was some 130% of average and some places in the Chilterns had over 150%. However, what you might find a little surprising is that local 12 month totals are only some 82% of average and, with lacklustre dip levels most of the way through last year, 2016 begins with fairly even odds as to whether or not we can maintain flow through to another December. March’s measurements will be all important but if you fancy a flutter now, do get in touch. Meanwhile, all looks well and the source is seasonally moving back upstream towards Misbourne Abbey. Flows through the Chalfonts are strong, channels are generally clear and especially on a frosty sunny day the river provides a really attractive background to a walk in the fresh air.

Generally, these pages avoid lobbying in one direction or other on political matters or advertising pet projects. Nevertheless, I would just ask you to consider responding to the consultation regarding various areas under review as potential sites for development between now and 2036 at http://www.southbucks.gov.uk/planning/localplan2014-2036 Clearly, for our councils and government to meet housing demands, not all areas can be preserved as they are and our councillors have to ascertain and put forward the “least worst” options. But one of the very most unsuitable seems to me to be the Mill Meadow area in Chalfont St Peter - indicatively infilling between the backs of Fieldway all the way across the river to the A413. Many readers will recognise this encompasses the children’s play area, two lots of allotments, the football ground, the playing fields, Millennium Wood, the Community Centre, the Scout Hut and Council Offices, the river and wetlands area with adjacent much used walks, etc: - in short a hugely important amenity area, part of the remaining lungs of the village ………… and lots of it subject to flooding and allegedly on the site of previous landfill! If you look at the consultation plan, the logic of a line “straightening up” this corner of the village is obvious but it is up to us to ensure the implications are well understood.

Having said "we don’t do political”, I don’t want to upset any republicans among you but there is a campaign called "Clean for The Queen" launched by Country Life magazine in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy to clear up Britain in time for The Queen’s 90th birthday focused on March 4th, 5th, 6th. CStP and possibly other Parish Councils are getting behind this and it seemed a good rallying call for our first outing of the year. So, we will have a work-party on Saturday 5th March. Quite likely, we will be working in a number of locations, including CStG but certainly at St Peter, removing last years dead growth, springing alder, brambles etc., all to improve the glimpses of the river from the Greyhound towards the tennis court and especially around and upstream of the Community Centre. Please let me know if you can join us, even if just for an hour or so and whether morning (from 09.30) or afternoon (from 2.00) or both. As usual, I will send out a note near the time with suggested groupings etc. to all those who sign up. On Thursday 3rd, we will have a “not-a-meeting” informal chat about river stuff in the Merlin’s Cave, Chalfont St Giles from 7.45 p.m. - all welcome.

Future work days are pencilled in for Sat 02 April, Sat 07 May, Sun 05 June, Sat 02 Jul, Sun 31 Jul, Sat 03 Sep, Sat 08 Oct, Sun 20 Nov - all to be confirmed or revised nearer the time as circumstances dictate. Maybe, there are some who would prefer workdays were on a weekday from time to time - please let me know. Also, most importantly, our 9th Annual Dinner will be Thursday 15th December - please put in diaries now!

Finally, behind the scenes, we have a new exciting contact with Kingshill Beavers, Cubs and Scouts who are hoping to work with us in a few weeks near Great Missenden and, with Chiltern Conservation Board, we are exploring opportunities for joint studies with Brunel University.

Looking forward to seeing you in or near the river soon

05 December 2015

Well informed people such as yourselves are well aware of the special nature of the Chiltern’s chalk streams and that our river Misbourne is one of only 216 in the world - (there are 5 times this number of wild pandas!). More, you know the river through the Chalfonts and up to Amersham provides a vital environmental corridor between the perennially flowing sections up and down stream, which is prone to becoming blocked by overgrowth and debris. Many of you have worked hard to maintain this corridor and cherish the fragile flow. It is good to know that several recent petitioners have been carrying this information to the discussions at the HS2 Parliamentary Select Committee.

In their presentations they have attempted to alert the “powers-that-be” to the risk - however small - that construction local to the river presents to its sustainability. They have also advised how appropriate mitigation of that risk - at no great cost - can be provided by environmentally sensitive lining of vulnerable sections. This safeguard, based on the proposals used in the unsuccessful appeal for Lottery funds a couple of years ago, uses techniques and materials endorsed at the time by all functions within the Environment Agency. These arguments were also put to representatives of one of HS2’s consultants last week during a visit to meet Chalfont St Giles Parish Councillors. Discussion beside the river enabled us to clearly set out the total inadequacy and utter impracticability of HS2’s mantra that they “… would monitor flows and, if necessary take retrospective remedial action …..”.

Knowing what you know about the Misbourne, can you imagine the amount of discussion it would take among the lawyers to agree whether or not any lack of, or reduction in, flow after tunnelling was a consequence of the construction or not? And how much more between consultants as to what corrective measures to put in hand? The seeds have been sown: let us now take every opportunity to ensure the Environment Agency requires substantial advance mitigation of the potential increase in porosity of the substrata under the river as a pre-condition of their approval of construction.

Throughout this year there has been regular discussion as to whether or not it was likely that we would get to winter without the river drying up through the Chalfonts. Well, I now maintain that we have reached winter! And, if you will allow me to disregard maybe three isolated days in September/October when things looked rather dehydrated around Chalfont St Peter, we seem to have made it. Followers of the “Quickview” data on our website will recognise this as quite a milestone. Groundwater levels and rainfall have been consistently similar to, or even less favourable than, those of 2011 when we last suffered significant loss of flow.

I will shortly leave you to resume writing Christmas cards and preparing for festivities but, first, a thought about 2016. During your annual discussion on the topic of New Year resolutions, if you are not one of our regular volunteers, please consider setting aside a day for just one of our work parties………… and, if you are one of our regular volunteers, you can be assured of everyone’s appreciation for your continuing efforts!

I have e-mailed menus to all those - (more than 20) - who I believe have booked to date for our Annual Dinner at The Greyhound on Tuesday week - the 15th. So, if you haven’t received yours and think you booked, please contact me asap. Discussion on the 15th is by no means restricted to matters fluvial and if you now feel like joining us for a very friendly, relaxed evening (there are no speeches) and didn’t previously contact me, never fear: I’m happy to add you in if you contact me anytime up to Thursday this coming week - we would love to see you.

However, if we are not to see you on 15th, I close with many thanks on behalf of MRA and your local communities for all your work and support in 2015, and with warmest wishes that you and yours may enjoy a Very Happy and Peaceful Christmas,

03 November 2015

See attached flyer for the Chiltern Society River & Wetlands Group Meeting this coming Saturday morning - good and relevant speakers for anyone interested in the well being of the River Misbourne.

Numbers are still growing for our Annual Dinner now confirmed at The Greyhound on December 15th but there is still room for plenty more of you to come and enjoy a night out with like minded folk and for yours to join their similarly long suffering partners. Price will be £27 for 3 courses (or £23 for 2 courses). Please let me know in the next month - why not do it now??? - if you would like to join us and I will send out menus etc. in due course.

Another successful work party last weekend completed winter clearing of the leat and some tidying at clogged fences along the valley and some local tidying at Chalfont St Peter. That ends our main efforts for the year with a pretty good situation all the way from Arklow Kennels though to Gerrards Cross Golf Course. As a result, flow has just about kept going with occasional blips. The reason for these odd “blips” of just a few hours or a day of no flow is a bit of a mystery. Some believe it may be due to fluctuation in abstraction causing a ripple in the groundwater level as it travels down the valley. I’m not so sure about that as, in general, any flow in the Chalfonts is “perched”. However, if it is abstraction related, that is effectively good news because it means that the modest reductions in abstraction planned by 2020 should have a noticeable effect at marginal flow times such as now. Any comments, anyone?

It’s been a busy month for many local groups and individuals as they present their petitions to the HS2 Select Committee on HS2. Several are, of course, citing the need for mitigation to ensure that construction, particularly tunnelling under and near the river, does not damage the river. It is well known that the chalk below the river is extensively fissured and also contains a profusion of clay-filled pipes and swallow holes. Any movement along these features will increase the overall porosity of the ground and exacerbate the tendency of the bed to leak. In my view, preventative mitigation in the form of environmentally friendly bed reinforcement is readily available and could be easily applied through particularly sensitive sections such as the crossing points of HS2 and the river at Chalfont St Giles and Little Missenden and in the disturbed area of the old sewage works near Cokes Lane.

29 September 2015

What a super display the invertebrate monitoring team put on for us at the Chalfont St Giles Show! Dorothie’s diptera, Mel’s minnows, Derek’s diagrams and Mike’s microscope had the stand filled with inquisitive people of all ages for almost the whole period. Many thanks to them and others who helped on the day. As usual from CStG, we collected some more names of those interested in what we are about and possibly joining us at the wet end.

This little note now goes to 264 addresses representing more than 350 individuals. Sometimes I wonder quite how many junk-mail boxes it falls into but, encouragingly, I often meet people who confess to reading it and even promise to join a work party one day! Everyone’s support in whatever form, even if that is just spreading the word in the village, or a little litter picking while out and about, or a once in a blue (or orange??) moon appearance at a work session is much appreciated and valued. However, to reach our objective of a healthy river, and to keep me cheerful, we really do need help with our activities.

So, I must note that the scheduled weekday exercise on September 23rd was cancelled as we only had one volunteer and, to date, we only have one for this Sunday 4th October morning. While the river is low and before the winter, we can do a lot in both the leat upstream of Mill Lane and the reach down towards Pheasant Hill. Bottom of Chiltern Hill area in Chalfont St Peter is very overgrown. And it wouldn’t be hard to find other worthwhile targets to help the river through the last weeks of this season and to prepare drainage as far as we can for the winter. In fact Sunday morning isn’t cast in stone so, if you could give us a hand this weekend, please let me know as soon as possible which you could do and any preference from a) Saturday morning, b) Saturday afternoon, c) Sunday morning or d) Sunday afternoon. We will then go with the majority option and I’ll let everyone know what’s happening.

Meanwhile, of course, I might see you for a chat about this and that at our “not-a-meeting” on this Thursday (1st) evening at The Greyhound, Chalfont St Peter from 7.45 p.m. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I have not managed to prepare a draft for discussion of the constitution our insurers were seeking but it is in the “work in progress” tray.

A healthy number of you have signed up for our Annual Dinner on Thursday 10th December. It will probably be at either The Ivy House or The Greyhound - to be decided on Thursday evening - and will have their usual choices of 2 or 3 course menus. As always, it will be a good fun and festive night out and a chance for those who volunteer alone to bring spouses, partners, friends to meet some of the crazy people they go river clearing with. Please keep the sign-ups coming.

Happily, the river continues to trickle all the way from the Chalfonts, glinting in this welcome sunshine. If not already raided by others, there are great crops of sloes, damsons, hazel nuts and occasional mushrooms (take care!) to be found on a walk beside it and the heron is back on station supervising our adventures.

25 August 2015

Very sorry for:

a) sending last month’s missive from my Parish church e-mail account
b) relocating Merlin’s Cave to Chalfont St Peter
c) failing so far to update the website with August 1st’s data

A good month:

a) Played Gerrards Cross golf course for the first time last week and was pleased to note water still in the river crossing the 1st and 18th fairways, and to avoid putting my ball into either stretch. Even without today’s rain, flow has just kept going through The Chalfonts despite past data suggesting it would not. It’s an interesting - exciting? - situation.

b) It was great to have “volunteers” from Freemantle Media UK working with us for their “Back to the Community” day on 19th and to tackle with them our first sizeable project in Amersham. We cleared and disposed of an enormous amount of overgrowth and overhanging trees from the path and river immediately downstream of Town Mill in Mill Lane to the delight of many regular walkers and, I hope, river flora and fauna which now have some more light.

c) Another good day yesterday continuing clearance around the end of Silsden Meadow, CStG, and on to the sheep field. This continued our efforts in July and there is now a relatively short section to join up this Saturday and complete that reach for this season.

e) a pleasant visit to Merlin’s Cave for “not-a-meeting” last night and an opportunity for those who’d not been before to see not only the interior refurbishment but also how the garden now slopes right down to the river.

Future notes:

a) Some of the chat last night revolved around the fact that, after 6 happy years, our insurers have now decided we must have a constitution! Hopefully this will not result in any changes to our work and culture. There should be a draft for your comment next month - be assured we don’t intend to commence extracting a membership fee.

b) This note also acts as “2nd Bell” for this Saturday 29th work party from 9.30 to 12.30. Currently quite low on numbers and hoping to hear from a few more of you before sending out the orders of the day on Friday afternoon.

c) Chalfont St Giles Show is on Saturday 5th September. Please could we have a few more volunteers to watch the stall for a while, chat to visitors and encourage new members. Cheryll and I cannot be there during the middle of the day. RSVP. The invertebrate monitoring team will be providing a display of their work to show off, complete with real, live creepy crawlies.

d) Midweek gang will be out again next month on Wednesday 23rd September - please let me know if you can join them

e) Next standard work party (after this Saturday of course) will be Sunday 4th October - please let me know if you can join us.

f) Next “not-a-meeting” at The Greyhound on Thursday October 1st at 7.45 p.m.

g) Finally and importantly, our Annual Dinner. Thursday 10th December is suggested but I haven’t booked yet to see how many of you come back by, say end next week, with “would love to come but clashes with Golf Club/Yoga Group/etc. Christmas do”. If several, I will float another date. If the date does work for you, it would be good to have an indication from now.

28 July 2015

As we approach the end of July, R. Misbourne is still flowing all the way through the Chalfonts and on to Denham. As noted before, groundwater levels and rainfall in the last 12 & 6 month period has been very similar to 2011, when the river dried up in Chalfont St Peter on 31st July. It will be interesting to see the the end of month readings - recent rainy days won’t have any meaningful impact - and whether flow is sustained into September. IF (a big “if”), it continues through to autumn, that could possibly be a very exciting comment on your work.

Some of you may have seen the Pride of Bucks spread in the local papers a couple of weeks ago when MisbourneRiverAction secured the award in the Environmental Category sponsored by Trinity Mirror Group. As the blurb said, “many thanks to all those who have been soaking wet, filthy dirty, stung and scratched with us over the past 7 years” - it’s always fun and, as last month at Chalfont St Giles, very rewarding to see and hear how much the effort is appreciated.

We had a meeting last week to compare notes with BucksCC HS2 team prior to their petition to the parliamentary committee. Their remit has moved over the years from purely opposition to concentrating on seeking the very best possible mitigation of all risks and damage that could be caused if the project proceeds. MRA’s stance is similar and is particularly focused on seeking environmentally sensitive lining, as previously approved by the EA for the unsuccessful Lottery Funding application. Most importantly, we believe this is essential where the route crosses under the river under Chalfont St Giles - right in the most sensitive perched section. Secondarily, where the route runs close to the particularly vulnerable reaches of the CStG mill leat and by the Thames Water balancing tanks and, finally where the route crosses the A413 near Little Missenden - a non-perched zone so, perhaps, less likely to experience a change in nature.

For your diary:

a) We will be joining with a local company - Freemantle Media - on Thursday 19th August to work on the river immediately downstream of Town Mill in Old Amersham. We will be tackling where trees etc have got out of hand along the bank and footpath and will definitely need a good posse of MRA volunteers to work alongside.
b) While some good work was done at our last work party, attendance was again rather low so we were only able to complete part of the plan. We will have a weekday exercise on Tuesday 25th August to carry on through the woods below CStG.
c) Our next standard work party will be on the morning of 29th August from 09.30

Please let me know for which of the above we can look forward to seeing you. Remember, just an hour can make a lot of difference: 2 even more.

d) Also, please don’t forget to come and see us at Chalfont St Giles Show on September 5th. The invertebrate monitoring team will be providing a display of their activities complete with a selection of wriggling, creeping things for your amusement. Thanks to all who have already volunteered to cover an hour or so.

e) Finally, hoping for a pleasant evening, we will have our next "Not-a-Meeting" beside the river in the garden of the newly refurbished Merlin’s Cave at Chalfont St Peter on Tuesday 25th August.

25 June 2015

June Jamborees

Jamboree - Not. Our efforts for June last Sunday morning and the previous Saturday afternoon definitely didn't qualify for "Jamboree" status attracting only 4 and 5 workers respectively - still it was raining for one and Father's Day on the other. Nevertheless, good work was done - both sessions at CStPeter: one aimed at The Best Kept Village judges and the other in a much neglected area behind the precinct.

Jamboree 1. Your efforts over the years have obviously impressed somebody as Cheryll and I find ourselves invited to "a bit of a do" at Stoke Park next week. We/MRA are shortlisted for a Pride of Bucks award and dressed in our smart togs and supping champagne will be thinking of all those who have been wet, filthy, scratched and stung alongside us along the way.

Jamborees 2 and 3. We are not having a stand at Chalfont St Peter Feast Day this year (this Sat) but there will be an MRA display in the Parish Council tent. We do hope to have our usual stand at Chalfont St Giles show on Saturday 5th September. This is normally a nice day with pleasant visits to the stand from you and other well-wishers plus the opportunity to recruit some very welcome additional volunteers. Will you be able to pop by? - do a half hour or so on the stand?

Jamboree 4. A little while ago, I mooted the idea of combining the July work party with a picnic and maybe some games beside the river and some have come back with enthusiasm. So, our next weekend work party will be on Sunday 19th July at a river venue to be decided - (should I throw in a "treasure hunt" style set of clues to find us as well?) - commencing at 10.00. We will continue until we've had enough, or there are more people thinking "I came for a picnic" than those wishing to harvest sedge and fools-cress. Please let me know if you can join us for any part of the day at all - no worries at all if it can only be for picnic and relaxation. I will try to identify a worthwhile job and a pleasant location. (Obviously, I trust, the idea is bring your own food, drink, etc.).

And so, to the river ........... Well someone sent me a picture this morning of the lake just below Missenden Abbey looking very sad indeed, and that's an indication of things likely to come all the way down to Little Missenden this year. However, things are still reasonably good through the Chalfonts at the moment. Of course, nettles have taken over the banks in many areas but it is great to note that the river is now a good shape with a narrow centre channel and stony bottom most of the way from Amersham to Denham. To follow trends in more detail, just check in to the "Quick View" or "Data" pages of our website.

Finally, we will have a "Not-a-meeting" at 7.45 p.m. on Tuesday 14th July at The White Hart, Chalfont St Peter. Hope to see you there for a good natter.

/h2>26 May 2015

May Mutterings

As noted last month, groundwater levels are following a very similar pattern to those of 2011 when flow through the Chalfonts was lost and we went into the "drought" of 2012. Some sages have already opined that the river will disappear again this year. Me? - I'm still sitting on the fence (bank?) with fingers crossed thinking it still looks quite good at the moment. Your bets??

Our last work party was indeed different from the norm. When it eventually caught, the long promised bonfire of accumulated rubbish at Chalfont St Giles burned enthusiastically and stokers Dave and Stuart plus those trying to bring branches etc. fast enough to keep it going were dry and very warm - none of this standing about in the cold water in the rain, which I know you enjoy. We hope the walkers now appreciate being able to see some more of the river. As does seem to be the norm recently, we could, of course, have done more if the team on the day had been larger.

You may recall that we had a very successful day last year when a group from a local branch of an international company worked with us at Bottom House Farm as their "Community Day". I have now been approached by two other companies for similar this year and will be trying to put plans together for days in June or July. I'm wondering about possibly tidying Mobwell Pond, north of Great Missenden - "source of The Misbourne", currently dry, and/or around Mill Lane at Amersham. If you are interested in being involved with one or both of these exercises, please let me know.

Diarising events is challenging at present, but likely dates for next work parties are afternoon of Saturday June 13th and morning of Sunday June 21st.

We are planning a "summer picnic (bring your own) and games" to follow a light work party on Sunday 19th July. This will be at some conveniently grassy riverside location: again, please let me know if you can join us.

05 April 2015

April Advances

Happy Easter! Birds are singing, flowers are flowering, trees are budding and rivers flowing: I've even seen the sun briefly today. It's a wonderful world.

The groundwater dips taken at the beginning of the month and, indeed, those at the beginning of February and March show a really close correlation with those for the same month in 2011. 3-month rainfall totals are also very similar, although 6 and 12 month totals are higher. I notice that, by the end of 2011, the river was completely dry from above Chalfont St Giles. At present, it continues to flow well, as it now has, almost without exception, since January 2013. We will see! What do you make of the tables and graphs on the website?

Contractors have been seen jetting culverts and drains through CStP though one wonders about the value of this work compared with the need to tackle the well documented problem of surcharged sewers. Meanwhile surveyors working on behalf of consultants working for the Environment Agency have been making very detailed topographical studies through the village. As far as I know, there are no plans for any significant work though it would be good to have road levels/drainage sorted outside the Party Shop.

After the March Work Party, we felt the watercourse was in generally good condition from Amersham through to CSP and we'd made a good start on establishing some "view points" and a possible picnic spot near CSP allotments. Gardeners will know this is the time of year when much needs to be done to keep on top and set the stall out for the rest of the year so there will still be plenty to do on our next outing. In particular, we will be targeting the bank-side by the new path in CStG including removing and burning various debris we have created over the years - a task deferred from January and still hoping for assistance from the Youth Club now the weather is better. Unless, we have a really good turnout, we will again have to postpone any attempt to tackle the encroaching alder and other near Amersham Mill. It's been good to see the husbandry of the farmer upstream of Quarrendon Mill this year.

Anyway, please let me know if you can join us on Sunday 26th April - morning or afternoon session, or both - and I will send specific suggested work plans.

Meanwhile, we look forward to seeing some of you at our "Not-a-meeting" at the White Hart, Chalfont St Peter (NOT the one at CStG!) at 7.45 p.m. on Tuesday 21st April. It has been good to welcome and chat with some new faces at these little gatherings this year.

19 February 2015

Dear All
People often ask:

Q. Are there any fish in the river?
A. Yes, while several of the invertebrate monitoring sites frequently note sightings of minnows and sticklebacks, you can spot some nice trout around Little Missenden.
Q. Where does the River Misbourne begin?
A. We usually say at Mobwell Pond opposite the Black Horse, (the balloon flying pub), on the Aylesbury Road N. of Great Missenden.

  Q. Why do you say "usually"?
A. Being a "winterbourne", it can be several miles down the valley during the drier months and, occasionally in the Spring, a little further up into the fields the other side of the railway line.
Q. Where does the River Misbourne flow to?
A. It joins the River Colne at Denham just before the Colne flows under the A40 on its way to join the Thames at Staines.
Q. What is the borehole dipping all about?
A. We join with the Chiltern Society monthly to measure how deep the water table is below ground at boreholes approximately every mile up the valley from Chalfont St Peter to well above Mobwell. I tabulate and graph the results on the MRA website to show how the levels vary compared with rainfall and the extent of flow.
Q. Why does the river sometimes disappear in the stretch through the Chalfonts?
A. Very simply, because the underlying layer of chalk has a different porosity than the layers further upstream.
Q. So why does it sometimes flow in this section?
A. If there is enough water in the river at Amersham, some will make it all the way through without seeping into the ground, especially if we keep the watercourse clear and free-flowing.
Q. I thought all the problems were caused by the water companies taking our water.
A. It's a lot more complicated than that! Affinity Water works very closely with the Environment Agency and others to ensure they can supply the water we all need with least impact. By 2020, we can look forward to further reduction in abstraction from the valley as networks to other sources are strengthened.
Q. When can I find out a bit more about the river and what you do?
A. Come along to our next informal group chat - we call them "not-a-meeting"s - on Thursday 26th at 7.45 p.m. at The Ivy House.
Q. And when is the next Work Party Day?
A. On Saturday 7th March, probably in two shifts a.m. and p.m. - please let me know if you can join us and for which shift.

Best wishes

22 January 2015

We hope you are all well, fully recovered from surfeits of shopping and Christmas cheer, and over your nasty coughs and colds.

I expect the sight of a little snow last week immediately turned your minds to Misbourne working parties. Never fear! - there will be one for you on Saturday 31st January commencing 10.00 a.m. We aim to spend an energising and relatively dry couple of hours clearing MRA debris accumulated over two years from beside the river between pond and church bridge at CSG and having a bonfire, clearing a few fences and other blockages and continuing the bank tidying at CStP. We hope to be joined by a contingent from CSG Youth club. Please let me know if you can join us.
 

I was very sorry indeed to read today of the death of Bill Warren, Chair of CSG Parish Council. Bill worked tirelessly for the community and helped us when he could and was intending to encourage more councillors and residents in CSG to join our activities.

The enigma that is the Misbourne continues. As you have probably noticed, flow through the Chalfonts is as good as one could hope for. However, as normal, the winterborne effect has brought the top of the river well down from its spring feed point at Mobwell pond. Groundwater levels are quite high at the top of the river and at CSP but historically below average for January at Quarrendon Mill. Rainfall totals for the 3 and 6 months to end December were fairly normal but the highs of last winter have sustained the 12 month totals. The back stream at CSP is still not flowing. Every time you think you can see a pattern, something else contradicts it. Any way let's maximise and enjoy it while we can!

You can browse and interrogate the figures to your heart's content on the website. But, speaking of enjoying things, we had a lovely, fun evening of good food and company at our dinner in December. Sorry to those, quite a few, who said they genuinely would have wished to come but had a prior engagement. To avoid the same this year, let's float a date for 2015 now! How about Monday 14th December? - RSVP.

While feeling all jolly and sociable, I also think it might be nice to have a riverside picnic and, maybe a bit of a treasure hunt or game of rounders or something for the children, in the summer. Any enthusiasm out there?

Our first not-a-meeting of 2015 will be at The Greyhound next Thursday, 29th, at 7.45. Come along, enjoy their real log fire, and let me know your views on what you think we might do this year as well as catching up on local news, views and gossip.

24 November 2014

First things first: MRA Annual Dinner - Tuesday December 16th at The Greyhound. Always, a good fun night, lovely mix of people, cost (excluding bar) is £23 per person for 2 courses, £27 for 3. Please book your places with me by December 1st - earlier if you can.
If you can't attend work parties for one reason or another, but would like to show us your support, please join us - this is for you
If you still mean to attend your first work party one day, but would like to meet and chat first, please join us - this is for you
If you frequently attend work parties, please join us and bring your partner to let him/her meet other river widows/ers - this is for you
If you have already booked with me, many thanks - I'll be sending out menus shortly.

Some of you will remember our early work parties in 2009 when it was a matter of coaxing a trickle through Chalfont St Giles (February) and into the swampy ground in the woods by Silsden meadow in the following months where neither we nor it (the trickle) knew which way it was meant to flow. The difference now is amazing! A couple of weeks ago, we were able to apply a relatively light touch, mainly working on a well defined, stony, bed as we cleared blockages and eased the channel all the way from Pheasant Hill to the sheep field, (does it have a name?), making a big difference and sending good flow on its way downstream. Also good to have several volunteers from Chalfont St Giles with us. (Not so good to learn that the scallys had been dam-building again the following day!)

By afternoon, it was pouring with rain but, thankfully, things are similarly improved at CStP and it only needed an hour to litter pick and trim from The Greyhound all the way to the Scout Hut. (It used to take a whole morning to do a fraction of this.)

However, the team working down the leat didn't have time to cover the full reach; a couple of trees still need attention there and at Cherry Acre and we could do with a visit to the stretch between Mill Lane and CStG before the winter sets in. So, plenty to go at on our final work parties for the year 09.30 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. on Sunday 7th December - please let me know if you can join us.

Interesting talks by, particularly, a representative from Affinity Water and other comments at the recent Chiltern Society Rivers & Wetlands Group AGM. These attributed the improvements in Misbourne flow largely to the effect of your efforts in simply keeping the bed wet, preventing cracking and enabling silt to block the fissures.

You may have heard of the Quagga Mussel - the latest in a long list of invasive species. By all means read up on its horrors and potential effects on both wildlife and infrastructure. However the main point in mentioning it here is that if you might be using boots, waders, tools or boats in the Misbourne that you have used in another water course, you must make sure they are scrupulously washed and dried. Its larvae are invisible to the naked eye and can survive in little bits of moisture

Talking of nasty things: when people come across an invasive species of crayfish - (it will be, because there are no native ones in the area) - I am frequently asked if it is illegal to put it back in the river? The answer from the EA is, technically, "yes" - it is an offence to release or to allow the escape of this species into the wild.’ Strictly then, if you see one but don’t remove it from the river, you can leave it be. However, if you remove it you can’t then release it. Clear enough, I guess - I leave it with you!

Sorry for the late reminder our next "not a meeting" is at The Ivy House, tomorrow, Tuesday, evening from 7.45 p.m. - hopefully its already in someone's diary or I'll be drinking alone!

Looking forward to seeing you at one or more of all the above

16 October 2014

1) We had more e-mails regarding the October work party than ever before. While most were along the lines of "dreadfully sorry we can't be with you this time, but hope we can make the next one", I take comfort from the obvious conclusion that the next one is going to be a sell-out - see 7) below.

2) The notion of advertising separate morning and afternoon sessions worked well, enabling a number to attend who could not have done if we'd settled on one or the other: to be continued. The results were good, enabling us to complete unfinished sections between the Chalfonts from the month before as well as some tidying in both village centres.

3) As we all know, groundwater levels at the beginning of the year were exceptionally high all along the valley (and are still high in the upper reaches). However, the usual update of the graphs on the website - see http://www.misbourneriveraction.org/node/18 - shows that levels are now near normal from Shardeloes downstream and well below those of 2008. Yet, unlike even 2008, we still have good flow with little sign of the river losing its way in swamps along the road. Dare we think we have actually achieved something?

4) Our good name has spread a little further and we were approached by the company Avison Young, based in Little Hamden, to help them meet a corporate edict "to put something back into The Community". The result was a really great morning the other day working along the 400 yards from Bottom House Farm Lane to Arklow Kennels, particularly redefining the channel through the debris in the wood and reducing some of the season's growth. Their warm letter of appreciation included "................. thank you for yesterday – not only for helping us obtain our goal of “giving” back to the community but leaving us with a real sense of achievement. We all came away feeling that we had really “done our bit” ......................Thank you once again for a wonderful experience and an insight into what you volunteers are doing – you have our full admiration......" , which was nice!
 

5) Affinity Water's proposals for AMP6 - 2015 to 2020 - have been re-affirmed by Offwat in its draft determination. This means that the anticipated reduction in abstraction is now reasonably secure. Incidentally, while significant in periods of low flow, the 5 or so Mld extra water left in the Misbourne valley is insignificant compared with typical winter flows of more than 30 Mld, so it will not create additional flood risk.

6) More good news! We find that The Ivy House is re-inventing itself as a decent pub under the new ownership of "Alfie" following its recent disastrous dalliance with modernism and bad beer. We'll give it a "go" for a future "not-a-meeting" as we used to.

7) Which brings me neatly to Future Programme:
"Not-a-meeting" at The Greyhound on Thursday 30th October from 7.45 p.m. - all welcome.
Work Parties Saturday November 8th at 09.30 and 2.00 p.m. Please let me know if you can join us and for which (or both) and I will send details in due course.
Annual End of Season/Christmas Dinner at The Greyhound on Tuesday December 16th. Cost (excluding bar) will be £23 per person for 2 courses, £27 for 3. Thanks to those who have booked already - please let me know as soon as you can if you can join us for what is always an enjoyable night.

By the way, talking to one of our most staunch supporters from the sidelines the other day, it became clear that her impression of our "not-a-meetings" seemed to be that there were lots of us propping up the bar in a blokeish sort of way, basking in tales of deep mud and fallen trees. As I assured her, this really isn't the case - numbers are generally small and seated, conversation is civilised and wide ranging, not always river related, (though last time it was interesting to spend some time discussing planned improvements to the river by Tesco at Amersham) and it is pleasant to meet and chat with like-minded people. I do look forward to her, (and her husband), joining us on Thursday 30th and hope you will too! As one recent attendee puts it ".................to share interest and sociability. We can’t have all work and no play!"

There we are then; hope to see you soon, on or in the river (or at The Greyhound)

27 September 2014

Yes, I know there have already been two mailings in September but one was August's delayed and now, if I leave this till October, you will say you didn't have enough notice of the Work Party on Sunday 5th October or, indeed, the "not-a-meeting" on 30th September (though you could have looked on the website)

We did really well with our work party at the beginning of September, with four small groups opening up a good mile between the Chalfonts where thick weed was severely reducing flow and so encouraging losses through the bed. We noticed some excellent examples of "poaching". This is the term given to the action of cattle which trample the water's edge, making the "river" wider and wider and shallower. This in turn causes silt deposition which encourages weed growth which slows the flow etc. By simply clearing a narrow (but not straight) central channel, we were able to rapidly restore a small, fast flowing, narrow, often gravel bottomed stream leaving the marginal plants to thrive in the shallows. The change in the flow in the evening through Chalfont St Peter following our efforts was quite noticeable.

It was lovely that so many of you came to say "Hi" at our stand at the Chalfont St Giles Show where, as usual, we found people very appreciative of all you do and, to be fair, more informed or quick to understand about the basics of chalk streams than I had anticipated. We were delighted to pick up a good number of new members as well.

Last month, I mentioned a wish to do some work around Mill Lane at Amersham. Here is a copy of a painting you may like of the Mill and bridge from about 1890.
 
A number of people have asked me to join in protests against the proposed Waste Transfer Station at the Amersham Dump, particularly on grounds of potential damage to the river and/or aquifer. I'm sorry to disappoint but personally, in principle, I have no objection to it. Indeed, I sympathise with a recent article in NCE about EF, which this station would feed into, from which two tiny extracts "...the net effect - (of delays to constructing waste solutions) - is that we will continue to send our waste to the likes of Denmark, Sweden and Finland. It is absurd that these countries are building new plants to accommodate our waste" and "When you see these plants in action, you think 'why weren't they built ages ago?' ..."You drive away thinking "what was all the fuss about?". With regard to the river and the aquifer I do not anticipate any harm but am following the proposals in detail and meeting with the prospective developer to satisfy myself that all practicable risk mitigation is adopted (e.g.in selection of foundation design, detailing of environmental drainage settlement lagoon and reed beds and, importantly, specification of construction restraints.) I am hoping that we can, in fact, secure some betterment of the river habitat past the dump and also be involved in policing compliance.

Anyway, back to the beginning and things we can do something about: our next work party is on Sunday 5th October. After the success of last month's afternoon session, we will make it nominally a 2.00 p.m. start. However, if anyone would like make a morning group as well, I will happily put stashes of kit out for you for 9.30 a.m. as usual. If you can make either (or both), please let me know and I'll send you details of where and what at the end of the week.

Our next "not-a-meeting" is this coming Tuesday (30th) from 7.45 p.m. at The Greyhound. All welcome for a drink and a natter - even a Waste Transfer debate!

Finally, please put in your diary now: our annual end of season/Christmas dinner will be at The Greyhound on Tuesday 16th December and let me know as soon as possible if you will be joining us for what is always a lovely, friendly, fun evening.

31 AUGUST 2014

Taking this letter to send while away on holiday was not a great idea as the IT wasn't up to it: now it can be a two-for-one edition.

We did concentrate on Chalfont St Giles last month (July) and, in just a couple of hours, removed sufficient obstructions to lower the river level by some 15 centimetres - enough to change the flow from 'out of the river onto the path' to 'from the path into the river'. Returning the following day, it was satisfying to see the path dry and in much use. Given the delight of the river through CStG, it is surprising that it is so neglected and it takes volunteers from CStP (with, to be fair, 2 from St Giles - 1 aged approx.11) to take any action. Perhaps, if we had been a little earlier, The Show Committee would not have felt compelled to move away to Narcot Lane. Groundwater levels have, of course, been dropping predictably through the summer and are now well over a metre below bed level.

 

There are indications of growing interest in the river through Old Amersham and we look forward to joining forces and improving the lovely area by the Old Mill. Talking of mills, we had a really interesting poke about around Quarrendon Mill with Allen Beechey of the Chiltern Conservation Board. We were looking at the way the river had attempted to follow an old course from long ago, through the wheat fields, during the winter floods and found it had caused a minor landslip which exposed a cross section of old gravel bed as it curved back to the existing channel. Quarrendon Mill is one of, I believe, 12 mills that used to work the Misbourne.

Not absent have been fish! Good to see the children out with their nets and jam-jars (hopefully they put at least some back) or just looking. The invertebrate monitors note various stickleback, bullhead and other. If you look in the fields upstream of Little Missenden, you may see a trout.

For one reason and and another, although we normally manage about one a month between February and November, we haven't got round to a work party in August. Our next will be on Sunday 7th September 2.00 - 4.30 - please let me know if you can join us - details to follow when we know numbers.
We will also be having a "not-a-meeting" on Tuesday 2nd evening at The Greyhound from 7.45 p.m. - join us for a drink and a natter. And, as usual, we will also be exhibiting with a stand at Chalfont St Giles Show - (should be some interesting questions!!!) - and look forward to meeting up with some of you.

13 JULY 2014

It was good to chat with several of you at the St Peter Feast Day - always very reassuring to hear that not all of you have these missives directed to your "junk mail". As usual, there were some new stories of life with The Misbourne as it used to be, including the one from the sisters who used to take their inner tubes to Chalfont St Giles and drift all the way down to St Peter. We were pleased to sign up a few new potential volunteers.

We also have a few new volunteers about to be trained or have refresher for the invertebrate monitoring. A couple of weeks ago on an evening of "MRA-meets-the-Cubs", it was fun to include a little "kick-sampling" in their activities and see their amazement at the amount of (small) wildlife living among the pebbles. They also attempted to measure the speed of the river as well as doing a bit of extra clearing.

Our next "not-a-meeting" will be at The Greyhound on Wednesday 16th from 7.45 p.m. - all welcome for a drink and a natter. With apologies to the gentleman who couldn't find us last month, I promise to tell the bar-staff where we will be this time.

Our next work party is scheduled for Saturday 26th. Please let me know if you can join us and I will reply with details of where and what close to the event.

I hope we will be able make a bit of an impression through CStG on the 26th as September 6th will see us at Chalfont St Giles Show. It will be interesting hearing all the comments following the past winter during which groundwater levels in the village have been quite a bit higher than the normal river level leading to ducks in the meadows and exposing the stretches of the new path that could do with building up. (Through drainage required under, of course). If anyone could offer some time on the stand, that would be much appreciated.

09 JUNE 2014

A reasonable turnout, fair weather, large amounts of overgrowth trimmed and bagged, a tree removed, a field drained and a significant blockage cleared all made for a successful morning last month. Several of us were very pleased to enjoy the river from the Greyhound garden after!

Perhaps not surprisingly, groundwater levels remain exceptionally high with plenty of water still in the "sponge" of the Chilterns aquifer above Great Missenden, available to make its way downstream during the rest of the year. Obviously, the river continues to flow very well along its full length.

Thanks to those of you who have expressed interest in joining the invertebrate monitoring team. I believe a training/refresher session will be available very soon - details to follow direct to you. If anyone else is keen to join them, please let me know by say 22nd June.

We had a really enjoyable and informative day exploring the length of the river in the company of our charming Environment Agency catchment biodiversity officer, Nancy Young, who afforded us a whole day of her time. You will be pleased to know that largely, though not quite 100% of the time, we had common views as to what "good looks like".

Chalfont St Peter Feast Day is on June 28th and we will be exhibiting MRA's activities from the Village Appraisal Group tent. It would be good to have some help on the day if you can spare half an hour or so but, anyway, we look forward to seeing you for a chat.

As previously advised, our next work day will be Sunday June 22nd. As you know, we normally work 09.30 to about 1.00 but, if there was strong call for the afternoon we could do that for a change. Either way, please let me know if you can join us and I will send further details near the time. If you'd like to put it in your diaries now, the one after is scheduled for Saturday 26th July.

We will have a "not a meeting" at The Greyhound next Monday evening, June 16th (Note: change of date) at 19.45 hrs. All welcome to join us for drink and chat about matters fluvial and dry -(last time, it was predominantly caravanning!).

11 MAY 2014

Our river has been sparkling down the valley, looking its very best in many places during the beautiful spring weather. In a few locations such as just below Chalfont St Giles, groundwater is still high enough to affect the meadows and remind us of the importance of a) the flood plains and b) keeping the rivers clear to drain the waters away downstream. You might recall that, in our first spring (2009), it was almost impossible to find a watercourse through the marsh in the woods by Silsden Meadow so it is good to see we now have a clear, flowing channel over the full length.

We had another rewarding work day in April. As always, some quick results by clearing the schoolboys' dams in CStG, removing accumulated debris at the blasted chestnut and at various fences. We took time out to confirm that at least one of the main sewer manholes still has floodwater leaking directly into it. We advised Thames Water of this last year and, assuming there are others, it is undoubtedly contributory in some degree to the earlier sewer surcharging in CStP. Others undertook more serious betterments at CStP, including a great one-man effort on the backstream, though a break was needed to allow this determined duck and her family to pass. A few days before, she had taken them for a walk along the High St to the consternation of the traffic at the bottom of Market Place.

Nevertheless, and while I again seemed to pick a day when many "regulars" were away from the area for the weekend, I was once more left wondering how we might make our activities more attractive to more of you. Please say if a different monthly format would suit you as I'm sure there is much latent enthusiasm in our ranks!

As posted on the website, our invertebrate monitoring team report improved figures in most locations. The team really could do with some reinforcements in their fascinating and valuable work. No prior knowledge is needed and the task requires just one monthly trip to the river for about an hour for a bit of paddling. Training, kit and waders provided.
      

Please let me know if you would like to learn to tell your "cased" from your "uncased", your "olives" from your "up-wings" etc and, in the process help to monitor against pollution in the environment.

Our next workday will be Sunday 01 June : I hope that proves a more convenient date please let me know if you will be able to join us - even for an hour or so. Provisionally, the one after will be Sunday 22 June - (to be confirmed). We will have a "not-a-meeting" at The Greyhound on Wednesday 21 May at 7.45 p.m. - all welcome for a drink and a chat.

03 APRIL 2014

Please see the invitation below from the Environment Agency to FREE Practical River Habitat Workshops. N.B. River Misbourne focused on 28th April and 2nd May. If you would like a place, please contact Nancy direct asap before 14 April and, perhaps, let me know that you have used one or more of our reserved places. If you advised last year that you would be interested, you still need to apply now.

You possibly remember our discussions with Affinity Water last year, their consultation in which we urged you to join, and subsequent publication of their draft plans for the period 2015 - 2020 submitted for Ofwat approval? We have recently received an encouraging and detailed update saying the following is being positively considered by Ofwat for confirmation later this year
* Design and construct new pipelines and other measures during 2015 through to 2017 enabling a reduction in abstraction from Amersham of 3Ml/d in 2018 and a reduction from Chalfont St Giles of 2Ml/d in 2020.
* Use of this (up to 5Ml/d) for augmentation during low flow drought periods is still under debate, but the reductions in abstraction would, in any case, be all the time.
* Extended monitoring will be required to demonstrate the benefits to both flow and ecology from the reductions in abstraction. MRA assistance in helping this work in the Misbourne will be welcomed.
* Affinity want to work closely with MRA in deciding how and where the most benefit could be gained from future habitat and flow improvement work.
* Affinity hope for MRA's active involvement in planning and installation of these works.

Beginning of the month groundwater readings will be on the website soon and will show a slight reduction on last month's peak. We can now see that the peak has been almost exactly the same level as in early 2001 but shorter in duration - these two events being the most severe since our own records began in 1992.

We had a good afternoon last Saturday and made a real impact on the "backstream" at Chalfont St Peter which is now running clear and showing some sections of clean gravel bed. Thanks to the weekday squad for disposing of the large piles of arisings, including many branches and 6 tonne-bags of brush.

Our next workday will be Saturday 26 April: please let me know if you would like to join us. We will be back on/in the river proper and, depending on numbers would expect to have several teams from Bottom House Farm Lane downwards. Provisionally, the one after will be Sunday 25 May - (to be confirmed). We will have a "not-a-meeting" at The Greyhound on Tuesday 22 April at 7.45 p.m. - all welcome for a drink and a chat.

08 MARCH 2014

A great deal, including much tosh, has been said and written both nationally and locally about the recent floods so I won't bore you with too much more. Clearly the inability of the storm drains and sewers to cope at Chalfont St Peter and the high groundwater levels at Chalfont St Giles have been the issues rather than river overflow but flows have been exceptionally strong. Views from the A413 have been impressive and I hear that the Misbourne is rising above its normal high point source of Mobwell Pond. Mill Lane remains a no-go area. Groundwater levels along the river are high, pressing on long term records: this months data is worth a glance - see MRA website "Quick View".

River Misbourne in February between The Chalfonts - often bemoaned as a dry section!

However, I cannot resist being slightly controversial. The intensity and duration of the stormy weather and consequent flooding has undoubtedly exacerbated the real misery of those affected. But the residents of Bolton in Lincolnshire where 150 houses were flooded on the night Nelson Mandela died must regret their poor timing and the lack of a really vocal MP or the NFU who have both ensured that the Somerset Levels (100 houses flooded) have never been far from the front pages. In the flash floods of summer 2007 - do you remember them?? - tens of thousands of homes in England and Wales (some reports say 55,0000) were flooded: the comparable figure for 2014 is around 5,500. Lloyds Insurance does not consider the recent events to be a significant item and insurance companies are anticipating a bill of £1.2 billion compared with over £3 billion in 2007.

Wisely, our invertebrate monitoring team decided against wading in the rapids during February so there is no update to their report. It is good to see the extent to which the river bed has been scoured by the high flow and it will be very interesting to see what effect the torrent and change in bed conditions will have on the bugs, beetles and fish. Hopefully, the stony bed will also be less inviting to overgrowth of weeds, making life easier for us ..... and, also hopefully, not increase the bed leakage.

Flows are generally still too strong to comfortably work in and there remains a very small risk of sewage contamination in the river itself. Nevertheless, there is much we can be doing and I hear some of you becoming restless. We will therefore have a work party on Saturday 29th March. For a change, we will start at 1.30 p.m. and our main targets, as usual dependant on turnout, will be 1) civilising the back stream at Chalfont St Peter 2) clearing some of last seasons dieback from the bank sides at CStP. If the sewage risk has passed, we may also do a little clearing of debris from fences etc as well. Please let me know as soon as possible if you can join us and I'll send details near the time.

Finally, we will also have a "not a meeting" at The Greyhound on Thursday 27th March from 7.45 p.m. - all welcome for informal exchange of flood stories and semi-informed discussion of the authorities' responses or other topics as you wish.

18 JANUARY 2014

The last few weeks' rain have been reflected by a good rise in the groundwater levels, particularly higher up the valley beyond Amersham and I see that the backstream at CStP has begun to flow again in the last few days. Last year, it started in February and ran until August - the best since 2010 and good in terms of long term averages. As usual, various graphs and stats available on our website.

We had some very productive, if small, work parties towards the end of last year. On 15th December, we worked energetically adjacent to Water Hall and a little way upstream. That evening we were delighted to see the river flowing again past The Greyhound when we left after a most excellent and much enjoyed 6th Annual Dinner to celebrate our first five full years. Having clashed with other events on the Wednesday for several years, we plan that this year's dinner will be on Thursday 11th December - do make a note now!

However, our year begins with a "not a meeting" from 7.45 p.m. on Thursday evening 23rd January at The Greyhound (in the alcove at the small end of the restaurant). All welcome for a drink and a chat on matters fluvial and otherwise diverse. No agenda, no minutes.

Our first work party will be on Sunday 26th January commencing 09.30 but hearty welcome extended to anyone able to give an hour or so that day - early afternoon included.
Please let me know if you can join us and, as most locations will require waders, your boot size. As mentioned our work last year was very productive partly because we are now visiting areas where a clear stony channel has been restored and we just need to stop overgrowth and debris clogging it all back up again. However, due to lack of numbers we never did manage to clear the second half of the section through the first field below Chalfont St Giles - hence flooding in that field, nor to properly sort the whole of the backstream; several other areas also warranted more attention. We do hope you can set aside a few hours to help us this year - please also mention MRA to your friends and neighbours. I will try to set out some forward dates in the next bulletin but would be interested to hear from you with regard to preferences for Saturdays or Sundays, mornings or afternoons etc.

Also in the next bulletin, we hope to have an update on Affinity Water's submission to Offwat for the period 2015 - 2020 when we look for some long term sustained reduction in abstraction and other important improvements.

I am still chasing the Environment Agency to remove the tree trunk in the river at Chalfont St Giles causing flooding to the footpath - (first reported 2nd December! after we had removed its branches twigs and accumulated debris). Has anyone else also been onto them? Please do.

This coming Wednesday morning, 22nd, a few of us will be continuing clearance upstream of Water Hall, including removing a small fallen tree across the stream in the woods. If any one would like to join us for a couple of hours only from 10.00, please let me or Ray Randle know.
Removing trees has become a bit of a theme - we took out a fair size Christmas Tree yesterday which some kind soul had laid in the river in the centre of CStP!

19 NOVEMBER 2013

Readers will be sorry to hear of the recent passing of John Norris. For many years, John, a distinguished retired meteorologist, was a champion of the Misbourne and our chalk streams in general and maintained and analysed comprehensive weather and other physical measurements in an attempt to further the understanding of its erratic behaviour. He gave many talks on the subject and prepared many articles. It was John who coined the name "MIsbourne River Action".

It has been necessary to change our next regular dates so that "not-a-meeting" will be at The Ivy House on Thursday 28 November and our final work party for the year will be Sunday December 1st. Please let me know if you can join us on the 1st. Although small in numbers our last two work days achieved really impressive results between Bottom House Farm and Arklow and between Mill Lane and Chalfont St Giles. However, there is still much to do again below Chalfont St Giles.

Misbourne River Action is now 5 years old! Our anniversary Christmas dinner is on Wednesday December 11th - probably at The Ivy House. Please let me know by next Monday (24th) if you intend to come as I need to confirm reservations etc. I will send details as soon as available but, be assured, I will ensure it is not overly pricey and is good value. This event has always been a good chance for river widow/widower spouses to meet and some of those who support us from the bank to meet like minded friends.

21 SEPTEMBER 2013

  • It is said that the "Sarcen Stones" at Chalfont St Giles, one of which bridges the river, were found when the Pheasant Hill road bridge was being built.  Apparently they were discovered during excavation for the foundations and it is suggested they were Roman stepping-stones.
  • Chalfont St Giles Show always draws some interesting people to our stand.  One such recalled periods of high and low flows in the late 1940's/early 1950's.  I would really love to collect some firm dated records, photographs  etc. and develop an accurate picture of the comings and goings back as far as possible  --- in fact anything before 1992.  What have you got in those old family albums? - (we can scan and return any photos, cuttings etc.)
  • Would you like to help some special children?  On Tuesday 8th October for a few hours in the middle of the day we are planning to lead a group of children from Stony Dean Special Educational Needs  School in a special work party to clear the river through the field downstream of Bottom House Farm.  The school would like the young people to be working alongside other people.  Please let me know if you would like to join us - waders provided.  Maybe one or two of our "non-digging" supporters might consider offering some light refreshments?
  • Our next "not -a-meeting" - i.e. an informal, vaguely river related, chat over a drink - will be at The Ivy House on Tuesday 8th October from 7.45 p.m.: All Welcome.
  • The invertebrate monitoring team are pleased to report sightings of fish at every location from Little Missenden, (+ 4 frogs and a grass snake at Chalfont St Giles !) except for Chalfont St Peter centre.  They are even more excited to present us with this photo of a stonefly nymph - see below.
  • Our next standard work party will be Saturday 12th October.    Now, seriously folk, I'm sure you've finished summer holidays by now and can delay Christmas shopping just a little longer.  Numbers have been very light during the summer and there is much catching up to do so we are looking for a good turn-out.  Please let me know if you would like to join us and I will send "team instructions" to you a day or two before hand.        
  • It's also time to note our 5th Annual Dinner in your diaries.  How are you fixed for Wednesday evening, 11th December?  Shall we go back to The Ivy House as in last two years?
  • Our September work party - see some of them on page 9 of this week's Advertiser and below - were pleased to report that the herons are back in the valley. 
Hope to see you by or in the river soon!
 

  http://www.misbourneriveraction.org/sites/default/files/Misbourne Stonefly - P8110256.JPG     

               

 

29 AUGUST 2013

Following a "butterfingers" moment, I have been without my computer (and thus the MRA distribution list) for a couple of weeks.  Now we are back up and running again, I hope it is not too late to remind you that we have a work party this Sunday, 1st September.    If you can join us, even for an hour or so, you will be very, very welcome.  Please let me know by Friday evening and I will send details of what, where and who during Saturday.  Thanks to those who have already "signed up"
 
Just in case, I'll also take this opportunity to note the next "not-a-meeting" - drink and a chat - will be on Tuesday 08 October and work party on Saturday 12 October.  And, of course, we'll be at Chalfont Giles Show on 07 September.  By the way, it is such a shame that the super little bridge at Chalfont St Giles has become a source of vexation.  I know I am far from alone in thinking it is a great addition and hope that this year it can be allowed to quietly remain in place after The Show.  We are very appreciative of the £200 received from the Show Charitable Fund and £100 from CStG Revitalisation Committee which has enabled purchase of some new equipment.
 
You will possibly have seen the excellent articles relevant to the river in The Advertiser of 15 August.  The first reported on Affinity Water's plans to reduce abstraction by 73 Ml/d across its regions.   The second, noting the recent award won by the Chiltern Conservation Board, paid due tribute to Allen Beechey's contribution ending: - "it is his drive and enthusiasm that really makes a difference" - to which I would add three cheers and a comment regarding his amazing knowledge.  Not reported is the additional detail that the reductions include at least 5Ml/d (notionally 5.5 or between 33 and 40%) from the Misbourne catchment and, crucially that these numbers are agreed with the Environment Agency.  Subject to final review, they now go forward to Offwat for approval for the next funding period (2015 - 2020).  With EA endorsement and in view of the relatively strong public support in the recent Affinity Water public consultation, it is to be hoped that these relatively cheap measures have a good chance of becoming reality.  (Affinity Water tell me they had something like three times the normal response to their consultation.  No doubt, this is thanks in part to your contribution following requests in earlier MRA circulars).
 
So that is very good news.  Better still is that additional funding in the same period may yet be ear-marked for some further measures selected from the Options Appraisal Report mentioned here earlier this year.  We have spent many hours reviewing the Report and reconsidering in the light of the more recent news regarding possible abstraction figures and indication of potentially viable costs.  Our response is almost agreed and should be on the website over the weekend.  in essence, we are recommending prioritising reductions at Amersham and Chalfont St Giles and seeking retention of the full capacity of these stations for use in river augmentation during low flow.  Other elements on our shopping list include limited bed-lining trials and a small augmentation borehole a little way upstream of Chalfont St Peter.   
 
This has been a good summer for the Misbourne, and I hope for you too!  On the back of helpful weather patterns over the past twelve months and the improvements wrought by work parties to date some flow has continued the full length; the back stream spring at CStP has only dried in the last week.  Undoubtedly, the raised awareness created by our efforts has also opened some doors and provided hope for the longer term.  Your continuing support is essential and much appreciated.
 

 14 July 2013

 
Quite a lot of activity in the past few weeks; I will try to be as brief as possible:
  • As always, it was really good to see several of you at our stand at Chalfont St Peter Feast Day, to continue to receive lots of appreciation for all the work you do and to welcome a few new volunteers.
     
  • That nice feeling of being a valued part of the village was echoed by an invitation from the new owners of Budgens to a little reception they held to explore opportunities for greater engagement with village life, from which several thoughts emerged.
     
  • Following a preparatory discussion, the Chiltern Society, Chiltern Conservation Board and ourselves met with Affinity Water to review their Options Report on measures to alleviate low flows for possible funding in the next Offwat Water Management Plan 2015 - 2020.  It was a frank and useful discussion and good to gain a better understanding of the issues from a different perspective.  To be clear, there is no certainty that any Option recommended by Affinity will be accepted for funding by Offwat.  You are welcome to borrow a copy of the report from me - it is over a hundred pages long and actually a well constructed technical document pulling together a lot of sometimes conflicting data and considerations.  Essentially, the options discussed envisage one or a combination of the following:
    • Reducing abstraction by closing or reducing one or more of the 3 water supply pumping stations in the valley
    • Using treated effluent from either Maple Lodge or a new Amersham treatment works to augment flow in the river
    • Augmenting flow in the river by either diverting output from the existing water supply pumping stations or from new boreholes, e.g. at Chalfont St Peter
    • Bed channel lining
    • "Do nothing" which encouragingly is not considered a valid option.
With Capital estimates ranging across the Options from £2 million to £55 million and 25 year Operating estimates from £0.5 million to £9 million, cost is clearly a factor in the  assessment.  Others include rather subjective considerations of the benefit; even a rather bizarre suggestion that occasional drying-up is actually desirable.  We were able to see a way to support some of the relatively modestly costed and apparently practicable combinations.  We also made very clear our agreed position that our first requirement is for constant and continuous flow.  This will, at least keep the bed moist and less prone to leakage.  Our second is to press for a minimum flow of 2.5Ml/d and preferably more - e.g. 10Ml/d at Chalfont St Peter as originally proposed by Halcrow in 1988.  
We have until end of July to submit a formal observation.
 

  • We have talked again with HS2 and responded to the draft Environment Statement.  Concentrating simply on the risks to the river, our response leaves the politics to others.  However, my view is that having acknowledged there is a risk, to claim it will be mitigated by monitoring during and after construction is absurd.  To be fair, the more detailed local sections of the Draft Statement states that "further measures currently being considered but which are not yet part of the design include: ................................ and will present its findings in the formal ES."  Our aim is to continue to press for measures - specifically bed lining 100 m either side of the tunnel crossing points - to be included within the design as pre-emptive mitigation.
 
  • Chalfont St Giles Show has kindly allocated some of their charity proceeds to us as has the Revitalisation Committee.  Following discussion with the Chalfont St Peter Parish Council we are considering purchase of one or more brush-cutters and other equipment with a view to MRA keeping a bit more control over the worst of the nettles in selected areas.
 
So, to business!  As always, those who helped at our last workday professed to have enjoyed themselves, did a lot of useful work and left feeling virtuous, fitter and satisfied.  However, there really wren't enough of us to keep nature's summer excesses at bay and you will have noticed the river is fading a little.  If we are to maintain it throughout this year, we need a super turnout on Sunday 28th July.  If you can give us some good support, target Projects will include easing the first 100m downstream of Mill Lane, clearing through the field just above Chalfont St Giles library, realigning the channel just above the church bridge, easing through to the first open field, cleaning from Water Hall to the tennis courts and much general tidying in Chalfont St Peter: in total plenty of fun for 30 - 40 of you.  If you can join us, morning or afternoon, for one hour or four, please let me know.
 
As an experiment we will try holding our "not-a-meeting" next Thursday 18th in Chalfont St Peter Budgens coffee shop at 19.45 p.m. Join us for a coffee and informal chat about any of the points mentioned above or just a sociable catch-up.
 
Chalfont St Giles Show is on 7th September: some help on the MRA stand will be welcomed please.
 
Would anyone, perhaps one of you unable to join our actual work party activities be willing to take on washing the HI-vis and gloves?
 
Does anyone have a shed or garage where we might keep some or all of the various equipment we have now acquired?
 
If you are still awake, well done!  I hope you enjoy the picture below.
 

Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you by or in the river soon, 

 

 

 

 

26 MAY 2013

On Thursday afternoon I attended the launch of The Chalk Streams Charter - see http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/charter_pdf.pdf   The quality and "clout" of the leaders of this initiative, including  Charles Walker MP is most encouraging.  It is "chaired" by George Hollingberry MP, co-ordinated by Martin Salter of The Angling Trust and supported by organisations such as WWF.  

I was particularly in need of some encouragement because the general tone of Affinity Water's consultant's report on Options for improvements to the River Misbourne that may be addressed in the next Ofwat AMP (Asset Management Plan) 2015 - 2020 is quite depressing.  It is, of course,  great news that something might be done in the next AMP but, oh, so disappointing to read the minimal options recommended and to think of the possible waste of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  As illustration, the attached recent photograph of our river shows what a flow of 13 Megalitres per day (13 Ml/d) looks like.  Compare this with the attached photo of the trickle in the backstream beside Love's Delight allotments which measured 1.7 Ml/d.  The report recommends a target flow between the Chalfonts of just 1.5Ml/d and, worse, suggests that drying out from time to time should be accepted.  This is a far cry from the the work undertaken by other consultants e.g. Halcrow in 1987/8 which recommended a figure of 5Ml/d.  Perhaps you would consider writing to our MP Cheryl Gillan urging her to sign up to the  Chalk Streams Charter and to work towards meaningful sustained improvements, not the poor token now being mooted.
                  
                              13 Ml/d looks like this                                        This is 1.7 Ml/d in the "backstream"
 
Is 1.5 Ml/d really an environmentally sustainable and worthwhile target, let alone an aspirational amenity for our community today and our grandchildren tomorrow?
 
From our website you can see that groundwater levels and extents of flow today are as good as they have been in recent times.  However, the invertebrate surveys reveal only a limited recovery with no RMI - the species said to best describe the river in terms of biodiversity - yet observed at Chalfont St Peter.  Hundreds of Gammarus and Baetidae in addition to cased and caseless caddis in a 3 minute kick sample were typical in June 2011, whilst a total of just 2 cased caddis and two Baetidae is all that was recorded in CSG in April this year.  A healthy population of these creatures is essential to bring back the sticklebacks and other fish. I understand recovery of other aquatic flora and fauna can take 6 years:  all to be put at risk again by a strategy that accepts routine drying out?
 
We will be in the Chalfont St Peter Village Appraisal Group Marquee on Feast Day 29th June and look forward to chatting with you there.   Sincere thanks to those who have already offered to cover the stand for a while - please let me know if you too can give us half an hour.
 
Our next "not a meeting" - informal chat over a drink discussing matters fluvial and not - will be this Thursday 30th May at The Ivy House at 7.45 p.m. - all welcome!
 

Finally, it would be good to have another bumper turnout for the work party on Saturday 8th June.  Please let me know as soon as possible if you can join us, morning or afternoon; every hour warmly welcomed.

 

11 APRIL 2013

 
Much has already been said and written comparing last year's weather to this.  However, as you see the standing water in the fields between Chalfont St Giles and St Peter, you might be interested to note that the water table this time last year was some 7 metres below ground.  In fact levels throughout the valley are on average 5.5 metres higher than in April 2012 - in some locations 10 metres.  While impressive, these are actually just similar to 2008 and 2009 (recovering from dry spell in 2007) when we were struggling to establish continuous flow between the villages.  I like to think our efforts have helped create the continuity we now have and hope that, with your help, we can maintain it through the year, without having to rely on another wet summer!
 
With an eye to the future, we are very pleased indeed to have received for comment a copy of Affinity Water's consultant's report into possible measures to establish semi-continuous minimum flow.  As noted in the past, this work has been done to inform discussion of items that might be funded by the next Water Industry Asset Management Plan 2015 - 2020.  At present, the report and conclusions are not for publication but it is great news that some realistic options are being thoroughly considered and priced.   We should take every opportunity to raise and maintain public support for this aim.
 
Our last workday, planned for 23rd March, was cancelled due to the weather.  Nevertheless some stalwarts ventured out in the following days to clear some bits of debris and they report strong, clear flow all the way.  Now that "Spring is Sprung" - (always the optimist) - we look forward to our next outing on Sunday 28th April. Its that time of year when there is masses to do, not only to help sustain the flow but particularly to tidy up the back stream at CStP and the bank sides through the villages.  Again, we really do need a bumper turn-out:  please let me know if you can join us, even if just for an hour or so, morning or afternoon.  "Every little helps".  
 
While you've got your diary out, please also note:
  • Monday April 15th      - new date   "not a meeting" - chat and chill (and discuss our response to the consultants' report) at The Ivy House from 19.45 hours 
  • Sunday 28th April         -  Spring work party as above
  • Saturday 08 June         - the following work party
  • Saturday 29th June      - Chalfont St Peter Feast Day (volunteers to help on the stand please)
 
Finally, reminders that assistance would be very welcome from anyone willing to:
  • take on washing and storing our HI-vis and work gloves
  • meet and chat to people with Misbourne memories and record their stories
  • donate any appropriate tools
 
Hoping to see you in or by the river very soon,
 

14 March 2013

 
Alleluia and Yippee-dee-doo!  As I'm sure most of you will have seen, the river is flowing from top to bottom of the valley as strongly as it has done for many a year.   It is good to see that  it's in good shape and running free almost everywhere from Amersham down, thanks in part to our efforts in the last four work days.   
 
A couple of months ago, many people were asking me why there was no flow after so much rain and now we have lots of flow after rather less rain.   The answer to their questions and this conundrum is, of course, that it takes time for the rain to soak into the ground and percolate through the chalk of the Chilterns before emerging at the springs at the head of the valley.  The river only drains away a portion of the water in the hills and as the remainder seeps downhill, underground, the hydraulic gradient levels off and we see the groundwater level reach the surface and pools of standing water appear such as we currently have between Chalfont St Giles and St Peter.  It is important to recognise that these are in no way a result of the river overflowing - indeed, in these conditions, the better the river's condition, the  more drainage it can provide.
 
After much to-ing and fro-ing a set of (not very elegant) minutes of our meeting HS2Ltd were agreed,  These and an abbreviated narrative are available on the website.  Hopefully, it has helped at least in a small way to ensure that any risks to the river and aquifer are really comprehensively addressed as the Environmental Impact Strategy is developed.
 
Thanks to those of you who have already let me know they can join us for our next work day on Saturday 23rd, please let me know if you can help too - even if you can only find an hour, any little helps.  Most people will work in the morning but there will be plenty to do if you prefer a stint after lunch. 
 
We will be having our "not-a-meeting' at The Ivy House next Tuesday evening 19th at 19.45hrs  - all welcome.
 
Hope to see you soon!

 

17 February 2013

 
In recent weeks, the description of the Misbourne as having an Upper Section, a Lower Section and a Bit In The Middle has been very well illustrated.  The winterbourne has been coming to life above Little Missenden and now all the way to the "source" at Mobwell Pond with uninterrupted flow from there down to well through Chalfont St Giles before dwindling away.  Meanwhile, the springs around Chalfont St Peter tennis courts have returned and generated flow through the village.  The gap in between has been steadily shrinking as the springs at the head of the lower section crawl up the valley and the tail of the upper section creeps further down until today they are just about joined up and we have a continuous river for the first time since July 2011.  Groundwater levels are just about as high as they've been for five years, as can be seen from the various graphs  and John Norris' detailed weather records on the website.

  Making its way back across the  fields between the Chalfonts.

Our first work day in 2013 was very rewarding.  We were lucky with the weather and had six small teams spread along the valley.  It is very pleasing to find how much more quickly and easily we can work through a stretch now compared with when we first started.  Even where there was no flow at all last year, the benefit of our earlier efforts has been clear.  However, there is still much we can do and with every chance of good flow for a long period this year, we will have a long section to nurture.  
The faithful few really could do with some more support from the silent majority!  As always, every little helps and if, for instance, you would prefer to do a stint one afternoon rather than in the morning, please let me know.  Even a hand with clearing up, taking stuff to the tip, sorting bottles and cans for recycling, etc. would be welcome - it took 2 of us till 5.00 p.m. last time.  Other ideas for spreading the load include someone to take on washing the HiVis and gloves - any volunteers?  Speaking of kit, if anyone has any old but serviceable rakes, bill hooks, brush hooks, seccateurs, HiVis they would like to pass on, we would be pleased to take them off your hands.
Of course, we can only do our best to optimise what flow there is and, without the rains of the past few months, we couldn't have created the current situation.   Nevertheless, we are obviously making a difference and also gathering general support that "something must be done" to ensure regular and increased flow.  Discussions regarding Affinity Water's plans for several recharge points seem to have gone behind closed doors at present, but we hope for some good news when an update on the consultant's proposals are released for consultation - hopefully in March.
Our next "not-a-meeting" (i.e. general natter over drink about matters riverine and not) will be at The Ivy House on Tuesday 19th March at 7.45 p.m. - all welcome.  The next work party is Saturday 23rd March - please let me know if you can join us.   We have plenty of big and small tasks to keep a really bumper turn-out busy sustaining the river flow and improving the environment along its corridor.  If you are already otherwise engaged on that date, do note the next one after that is Sunday 28th April!

 16 January 2013

 
Belated best wishes for your health and happiness in 2013.  I hope you have enjoyed the break from my relentless flow of e-mails but all good things must come to an end and you will want to be knowing about diary dates for the new year.
 
While you may have noticed that we undoubtedly had quite a lot of rain in 2012, the press have pulled back a bit from their "wettest ever" headlines.  Indeed, it is interesting to note that, of the last 25 years in Chalfont St Peter, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002 were wetter - largely because of 2012's dry early months and, although maybe quickly forgotten, the long drought before April last year had a really severe impact on local aquifers. Even now the Environment Agency is reporting groundwater levels for instance in the North and South Downs, the Cotswolds and elsewhere as "exceptionally high" whereas levels in the Chilterns - now rising strongly - have just about reached "normal".  So, the welcome return of a hint of the Misbourne to Chalfont St Giles in November and subsequent increasing flow and penetration several hundred metres downstream of the church, but no more, is much as predictable.
 
As the river has returned, the benefits of our previous efforts have been apparent and the last two work parties of 2012 brought the water front almost skipping along, much to the delight of our younger workers.  The  channel alongside Silsden Meadow is still well defined, unlike the jungle we tackled three years ago and it should be relatively easy to make further good progress with a view to, hopefully, having flow back to Chalfont St Peter in the spring.  Other targets for the year should include stalling the rampant weeds that clog the Bottom House Farm area - a result of over wide excavation some time in the past.
 
With the Chiltern Society and others we had a useful and informative meeting with HS2 Ltd and their consultants.  The concerns we raised appeared to be understood and likely to be fully addressed to prevent contamination of river or aquifer.  Perhaps less convincing was their, or anyone's, ability to be absolutely certain that ground disturbance and movement could not lead to more leakage where the tunnel may go under the river, against which we suggested localised lining might provide some defence.  Incidentally, I see they have now published a draft Code of Construction Practice.  
 
Anyway, to work!  Our first work party of 2013 will be on Sunday February 3rd - commencing 09.30 and probably everyone will have had enough by 1.00 p.m.  Every little helps and any hour you can spare will be very welcome.  Please let me know if you expect to be able to join us and I will send suggested "orders of the day" near the time to suit the numbers and conditions.  To help plan our activities, catch up on stuff behind the scenes and also chat about nothing to do with the river we will have a "not-a-meeting" at The Ivy House, Chalfont St Giles from 7.45 p.m. on Thursday 24th January - everyone welcome.
 

While you are making notes in your diary, you could also note work days on Saturday 23rd March and Sunday 28th April.  Other dates for the year will be on our website http://www.misbourneriveraction.org within a couple of days as will the groundwater, invertebrate monitoring and weather information.

 

11 November 2012

Just for a change I'll leave the river till later and begin with the MRA 4th Annual Dinner.  Following last year's success, we have again reserved the Ivy House (on A413 between CStG and Amersham) for evening of Wednesday 12th December.  The menu looks great - 3 courses for just £20.00, or a two course option for £17.00, both exclusive of drinks.  If you normally support us as a single worker, this is a good chance for your husband/wife/ girl/boy friend to meet the gang and other dittos; if you normally support us from the wings rather than in the river, this is a good chance to keep in touch with our activities with no risk of getting muddy or wet, if you just fancy a nice evening, don't look anywhere else and, by the way, conversation is not restricted to rivers!

 

 
Please let me know as soon as possible, at latest by 20th November, if you can come and I will send menu choices etc. out to you.
 
So, to the river:  We had an absolutely super workday last month with several new volunteers and young volunteers, well rewarded by the sight of water flowing over the wier in Mill House garden and on its last few yards towatds the ford.  On the other side of the ford, we also cleared half the distance towards Chalfont St Giles.    We all went  away expecting to return a few hours later to dance in the water in the ford.  Amazingly, frustratingly, apart from distinct rain related incidents, it hasn't got there!  Last weekend,  a reasonable flow was still reaching the Mill but, despite further recent encouragement by volunteers, disappearong before the ford.  Obviously, this is all related to the nature of the leat, abstraction at Affinity's CStG pump station, disturbance from the pump station's wash-out pipe etc., but, in fact to have flow this far at this time of year, following the long drought prior to April is not a bad position.  While still low by normal stadards, groundwater levels are rising and above those at the same time last year.
 
It was good to be invited to meet with Richard Benyon - Minister for the Natural Evironment - and others at a recent event hosted by River Chess Association literally in the Chess at Latimer.  This meeting further underlined the importance and  crtical state of the Chilterns Chalk Streams.  The minister appeared well aware that the current lack of a satisfatory balance between abstraction and the environment is not acceptable and appreciative of the work and expertise of the various groups such as ours.  Later this month, there are meetings with HS2 Ltd to try to secure some guarrantees of protection for the river (and aquifer) should this project ever proceed, with Environment Agency to review Affinity's consultants prposals for augmentation mentioned last month and again with Affinity themselves a a pre-consultation regarding their next Water Resources Management Plan.
 
For MRA, we have our next informal "not a meeting" from 07.45 on Thursday 22nd November at The Ivy House; any one  who fancies a drink and ad hoc chat that might touch on riversfrom time to time but, most likely, other incidentals as well, are very welcome.  And our next and final for 2012 work party will be  Sunday 25th November.   We won't be working in the leat this time, but above, for example in the rough area behind Arlow Kennls, and below, hopefully with some water, through the field o Chalfont St Giles.  As usual, pleae let me know if you can join us and I will send you more details just before.
 
That had better be all for now. We hope to see you soon and RSVP ASAP PLEASE RE DINNER and WORK PARTY!
 

08 OCTOBER 2012

We had a very enjoyable work day last month, with a lovely morning during which we cleared a channel and eased flow almost the full length of the leat.  It was enormously encouraging to see the excellent work being done by the new landowners near Misbourne Farm and fun to have several young new volunteers joining us in getting wet and dirty! 
     Given the steady flow going in at the top of the leat for several months, its been surprising that flow has not quite made it the last few yards to cross Mill Lane at the ford.  Hopefully, a combination of a few more autumnal days and filling a few more rabbit holes will get us across the road and on the way back to Chalfont St Giles.  This is a crucial and quite rewarding time of year to work on the river and we look forward to a really good turnout again, please, for our next session on Sunday 21st October.  Please let me know if you can join us.  `Why not make a note of the 25th November (changed date) as well?
At long last it seems that Veolia Water (now Affinity) are able to advise some information regarding their consultants' investigations into options for the future, i.e. 2015 - 2020.  Initial indications are encouraging and we look forward to learning more at a meeting this Friday.  Join us to mull over these and other issues at our "not-a-meeting" at The Ivy House pub next Monday 15th evening at 7.45 p.m.  
 
Although not setting out to join either the "pro" or "anti" lobby, MRA is now represented on the local forum of associations meeting with HS2 to discuss mitigation of environmental and other effects should it ever go ahead.  In that context, we are attempting to initiate a Misbourne focussed seminar involving various expert and local knowledge to challenge the robustness of the understanding of potential effects of tunnelling and excavations in the valley in the context of local geology and the vagaries of our river's flow.  Some of your reports and photographs are also finding their way to the environmental consultants who are studying the existing flora and fauna.
 
Chalfont St Giles Show again brought out the sunshine and the crowds.  It was very nice to chat with a few of you who came and found our stand and also to welcome some new interest.   Some people have explained that work parties are not for them but they would love to help us if they could.   Well, if anyone is interested, one job (or two) that we could pass on is the washing of the HiVis tabards and work gloves between work-days.  We are also moving towards a position where we could do with a few more tools, particularly strong rakes and brush or bill hooks.
 
Looking forward to seeing you soon,
 

 08 SEPTEMBER 2012

 

Just a reminder that we are hoping for a really good turnout next Saturday to ensure we can make some progress towards returning flow, at least as far as Chalfont St Giles, by the end of the year. Thanks to those who have already let me know they hope to join us and if you would like to, please reply to this asap.  I will issue "marching orders" on Thursday.  Even just an hour would be very welcome.

 

I must say it was really waming and encouraging to garner some additional supporters at the CStG Show today and, particularly, to learn that not all of these ramblings are automatically routed to"Junk"!   

 

08 AUGUST 2012

When we first got together late in 2008, the end of flow in the Misbourne had been stuck above Mill Lane for some time and it hadn't been seen in Chalfont St Giles (except for storm run-off) for several years.  With hard work and gentle coaxing, together with no more than reasonable but erratic rainfall, regular flow gradually extended down the valley towards Chalfont St Peter and we really thought we were winning.  But the drought - much reported and hyped early this year, but really the result of 2 years generally below average rainfall - proved irresistible and, very quickly, a year ago, the gains were lost and flow retreated all the way back above Quarrendon Mill.  By comparison with some earlier ebbs, recovery has perhaps been somewhat more rapid - possibly we've helped? - and so, now, we have flow back to where we started - see below:

 

 

 At the same time, ground water levels took a serious dive to exceptionally low levels but are generally (unseasonably) recovering as shown by this plot of levels at Misbourne Farm.

 

 

More details of these movements and observations can be viewed at the Facts and Figures and Quick View areas of the website.  We also look forward to explaining and discussing them to all comers at the Chalfont St Giles Show on 08 September and, hopefully, to seeing you there.  Thanks to those who have already volunteered some time on the stand - additional support, even for half an hour or so - would be much appreciated: please let me know if you can help.

 

Recently, we have been talking with Chalfont St Peter Parish Council about some ideas for improving the concrete area in front of the Greyhound where the old ford used to be.  Here coaches used to cross the river just before they  pulled in to the covered entry to The Greyhound for a break on their journey from London, along the old road (Lower Road), before setting off up Gravel Hill on their way to Aylesbury.  Now  reverting to being an eyesore very rapidly after we tidy it, this space could/should be a key feature of the village.  Watch this space!

 

HS2 is never far from the news.  Controversially, I often wonder what we would all have said if we had lived in the area when the brick viaducts over the A413 and M25 and the massive cuttings through Gerrard's Cross for the Chiltern Line, which we now take for granted and regularly use, were first proposed.   I don't believe that MRA has a role in being "for" or "against" HS2.  However, we do most certainly have a part to play in ensuring that, should it ever proceed,  any damaging consequences to the aquifer, the extent of flow or the river corridor environment are thoroughly investigated and fully mitigated plus maximising the benefit to be obtained from compensation.  To this end, we are delighted to have been invited to join the Chalfonts and Amersham (Mitigation and Compensation) Forum which is one of 25 set up by HS2 Limited to enable communication with local stakeholders.  I'm not sure how much work this may lead to, but, if anyone with some relevant expertise is interested in helping develop our representations, we would be pleased to hear from them.

 

As you know, the Chiltern Society Application for Lottery funding towards the our proposed lining project was unsuccessful.  However, work is now well advanced in reformatting the application and submitting it for funding through the Colne Catchment Fund administered by the Environment Agency. Personally, I feel this may be more appropriate as the fund has a more relevant and tighter focus without the additional, complicating Heritage/Educational requirements of the Lottery Fund and it would be really good to be working on something directly with our Environment Agency friends.  (Of course, MRA does have a heritage and educational agenda: its just that the Heritage Lottery application seemed to be trying to cover all the bases at once).

 

You may recall that, last August (2011), just as the drought was beginning to reverse our apparent success, Veolia Water undertook various trials with reduced abstraction and even injection of water back into the river at Amersham.  (these show up as a little blip on the "Extent of Flows" graph above - temporarily arresting the retreat up the valley).  This was all associated with consultancy studies they are obliged to undertake as part of their Asset Management Plan (AMP) 2010 - 2014.  In turn, the results of these studies, and no doubt much debate, will lead to a requirement from Offwat for something (or nothing??) to be done in the next AMP 2015-2019 by way of reduction of abstraction, or other measure to improve flows in Chalk Streams.  We were promised that the results of these tests and the consultants' report would be made available to us in March this year but, to date, we are still chasing.  

 

So, as I hope you can see, despite the lack of a river through the Chalfonts this summer, there is lots going on and no shortage of reasons to be optimistic for the (long-term) future of the valley for our children and grandchildren.  In the short term though, now the Olympics are over and holidays are behind us, its time to get back to work and prepare the river corridor once more ready for the likely autumn/winter replenishment so that chances of flows back through the valley next year are as high as we can make them.  We now have over 300 people reading these ramblings (or maybe just junking them!).  Please can we have a bumper turnout for our next Working Party on Saturday 15 September and please also note now the one after on Sunday 21st October.  If you can help, even if just for an hour, do let me know and I will send further briefing notes before hand.


Finally, we will have a "not a meeting" over a pint at The Greyhound on Tuesday 11th September at 7.45 p.m. - I look forward to seeing the "regulars" and anyone else who would like to come for a drink and a natter.

 

25 JULY 2012

Just by way of a tidy-up for  The Olympics and the RuntheRace event, we will have a quick work-party 10.00 to 11.00 this Saturday, 28th focused on just the old ford and section between The Greyhound and the Vic Wotton bridge in Chalfont St Peter.  If you would like to join us - welcome: no need to let me know in advance.  I will only arrange a small number of tools so you may wish to bring seccateurs, shovel, broom, rake. Due to holidays, lack of water etc., we are not planning to go ahead with the full work-party originally scheduled for the 19th August.
However 1.  Volunteers are required for an hour or so on the morning of (probably) Thursday 7th August to assist with relocating reeds at Little Missenden where work has been done to clear and improve the watercourse.  If interested and available, please let me know and, when arrangements are confirmed, I will pass your contact details on to the organiser.
However 2. As you have possibly seen there has been a sustained flow through the dump, past Bottom House Farm Lane and into the top of the leat for several weeks ...... but still nothing coming out at the bottom at Mill Lane.  There is quite a lot that could be done downstream from Bottom House Farm Lane and through the leat to sustain this welcome development.  I am hoping that, assuming this flow continues, some of the mid week team might feel moved to have a go after the Olympics.  (Hint!)
September 8th is Chalfont St Giles Show. We look forward to seeing you there and, if anyone can spend half an hour or so talking to visitors on the stand that would be very welcome.  (Thanks to those who have already committed to this and, indeed to those who held the fort at the St Peter Fair.)
That's all for now.  More newsy items in a while when we have the August 1st river and weather statistics to hand.

 

28 JUNE 2012

This topsy-turvy year continues with the river advancing at a time of year when we might expect it to be in retreat.   Aside from the flash-flows during showers,  flow now extends fairly regularly to the top of the leat by Misbourne Farm.  However, trying to guess what may happen in the rest of the year and looking at the choked channel downstream of Mill Lane to Chalfont St Giles, it seems more sensible to let things take their course until there is some natural die back and then look to redefine the water-course later in the season.  Accordingly, we decided to cancel the work day previously scheduled for 15 July.  Depending on developments over the next few weeks, perhaps we will review at a "Not a meeting" chat on 26th July and decide the plan for August - we'll let you know.

If you are attending Chalfont St Peter's Feast Day on Saturday, do visit the MRA display in the Village Appraisal Group's tent.   We will also have a stand at Chalfont St Giles' Show on September 1st - more help on the day, even for just half an hour, would be welcome: drop me a mail.
 
We hear that the Chiltern Society's application for a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for some limited lining was unsuccessful.  The search for alternative funding continues.
 
Meanwhile, monthly measurements of ground water levels and observations of invertebrate populations and distribution continue - see updated website.
 
It was fun to have an evening with the Scouts recently and illuminating how much progress with some clearing of the back-stream could be achieved in a few minutes with some youthful enthusiasm.  We'll be looking for more of that kind of support when conditions are right. 
 
06 JUNE 2012
I hope you've enjoyed the celebrations as much as we have.   If the rain happened to interrupt your street party too at least you will have had that warm glow of knowing it was doing good to the river. 
I've been without my computer for a little while so have not yet updated the website "Facts & Figures" page with the latest readings.  However, the two consecutive sets for May and June, when we might have expected groundwater levels to be falling, will show a recovery normally associated with late autumn/winter!   
 
Last month, we were able to achieve quite a lot, including  clearing two fallen trees and much other rubbish from CStP centre and cleaning the ford again.  Steady flow still ends well north of Chalfont St Giles and thick seasonal green growth obscures the channel in most places.  I am unaware of any more fallen trees and it therefore continues to look extremely unlikely that we could really do much to bring any sustainable flow into the villages with a work party this weekend so we will cancel that which was scheduled for next Saturday - the 9th.  
 
At CStP Feat Day on 30th June, MRA will share space with our parent organisation, the Village Appraisal Group.  A few more volunteers to be available for an hour to explain to visitors what we do and why we do it would be vet welcome - please let me know if you can be available for this.
 
01 MAY 2012
The media have been reporting, albeit with typical cynicism and spin, that recent rains have hardly dented the groundwater deficit following two dry years.   They are right; as shown by this graph of groundwater levels over the last 4 years at Misbourne Farm, N of Chalfont Giles.  You will notice that the groundwater level is now some 11 metres below the river bed, compared with less than 4 metres in 2008 and 2009, and that there is a tiny little upturn of just about 9 inches between the dips on April 1st and today.  More comprehensive results can be found on the website.
 
 
However, every little helps ........... and I admit to being selective of the various dipping locations!  Hopefully, water in the hills will find its way into the valley in some small way over the next few weeks.
 
As always, there is much to be done to cherish what we do have and, as always, we will probably have to carefully pick just a few tasks to suit the size of our team on the day.
Ideally, we would clear some of the silt and weed downstream of Chalfont Park to improve the habitat, further clearing again through CStP and CStG, heavier work upstream adding to work carried out this week towards Amersham,
 
 If you are able to join us this  Sunday morning, please let me know and I will send out a suggested work plan by Saturday morning - thanks to those who already have!
 
21 APRIL 2012
 
From the longest dry spell since XXXX - (your choice), it appears we may have now entered the wettest drought on record: you didn't know river watching could be this much fun!  It will be interesting to see what the 1st May groundwater and river measurements tell us about the worth of this late recharge.
 
Last month (31st) our light cherishing of the section from CStP centre towards the Council offices was well timed to complement the new Council funded path in front of the Community Centre.  Hard to believe, but the attached pictures were taken about this time last year at this point
 
 
Our weekday "heavy gang" also dealt with a couple of trees down upstream of the Council Dump - well done guys!   This Thursday, we have our regular "not a meeting" at The Village Hall from 7.45 p.m. when we will catch up on recent events and look ahead to our next  work party on Sunday 6th May.  Please let me know if you expect to be able to join us - there will be plenty to do and just an hour or so is very welcome.

Looking ahead, Chalfont St Peter Feast Day will be 30th June.  Volunteers please for a short session on our stand - even a half hour provides a break for someone.
 
 Rumour has it that a deceased otter was seen by the road somewhere near the M25 viaduct.  If true, this would be an important sighting.  If you have heard or seen anything to support this tale, do let us know.              
 21 MARCH 2012
Well, you no longer need MRA to tell you that it has been unusually dry in recent months!  The media is full of this "news", which you've been reading here for a long time.  Let us, at least rejoice that this burst of publicity is again drawing attention to the state of the nation's rivers and our chalk streams in particular.  Depending on the way you spin the figures, its the worst period since records began, or since 1976, or since  2007: anyway, I very much doubt we will see any sustained flow through the Chalfonts in 2012.  Lots of graphs showing recent groundwater levels and flow data are always available on our website.
 
One of John Norris' graphs I came across recently shows a striking picture of the pattern of abstraction from the Misbourne catchment over the last 100 years. 
 
 
 
This shows the seemingly inexorable increases from effectively zero in 1900 to a peak of over 30Mld (3 x the average flow in a good year like 2010 at Amersham; 15 x the average flow at Chalfont St Giles).  Concerns sparked by a number of dry spells such as now and the drive of Vic Wotton secured the introduction of ALF (Alleviation of Low Flow) scheme Pt 1 for the Misbourne and a new limit on abstraction in the 1990's.  It was always planned that the success of this would be reviewed and ALF Pt 2 in one form or another would follow.  We await with interest the opportunity to comment upon the latest consultants' report commissioned by Veolia, which is due for publication very short and, I trust, will contain proposals for some serious action in the water authorities Asset Management Plans 2015 - 2020.
 
Meanwhile, having been blessed by the Chiltern Society Executive, the Chiltern Society Application for Lottery Funding for some limited lining works has been submitted and a response is due in June/July.
 
Our AMI group continues to monitor the health of the river by monthly surveys of invertebrate life - see http://www.misbourneriveraction.org/node/40 Mike Lowings writes:    If you refer to our AMI data for the last 9 months you'll now know just what we're counting!!  We've also taken a few short video clips to show the fascinating mayfly larvae in action...they are strong swimmers and are constantly moving their gills (exposed along their backs). Of course, all were safely returned to the river after the count!  - see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb703wUGnLA&feature=youtu.be "  As you can imagine, these clips caused some merriment when I was speaking about our efforts to two delightful classes at Holmer Green school last week!
 
This month's "not a meeting" (i.e. informal chat about the river, work day plans and anything else water or not related) will now be next Tuesday evening (27th March) 7.45 at The Village Hall pub (moved from this Thursday).
 
While not the same as working in the water, our work party on 26th February was quite fun and benefited from good weather.  Taking advantage of the dry conditions, we were able to quickly spruce up the section behind the dump - the present extent of flow -and all the way from CStG village to the fields, including some much needed heavier work at the end, plus a good tidy up of winter debris in the centre of CStP.  Our next work party (morning) is scheduled for Saturday March 31st.  Please let me know if you would like to join us for a couple of hours or so and I will be in touch with details of what and where.
 
 
January 17 2012
 
New Year Greetings to you! 
 
As we walk beside the dry river bed and contemplate today's "news" regarding HS2, it is cheering to remember back to our very pleasant and jolly annual dinner at The Ivy House in December.  Inevitably, conversation then, and at the "not a meeting" earlier that month, touched from time to time on hopes and expectations for 2012.  Will the dry run continue or will the Olympics and the Jubilee suffer from the wettest summer ever? Will the Mott MacDonald report to Veolia initiate the second phase of the Alleviation of Low Flow Programme?  Will there be a radical reduction in abstraction at Amersham and Chalfont St Giles?
 
The New Year observations showed that the groundwater levels had continued to fall along the valley.  Normally, we could expect a rise to begin in November and continue throughout the spring.    To be fair, "the end" has already moved 100 metres or so downstream from its worst position in December and, hopefully, maybe this year, maybe next, we will be able to coax flow back into The Chalfont villages again.   So, even in the current absence of water, we should keep going, maximising the chances of it getting through, optimising the benefit when it does, and maintaining the channel so it isn't a total eyesore when it doesn't.   Accordingly,  the proposed schedule of 2012 work parties is now published on the website.   Particularly if for some time you've been meaning to join us on one of our mornings, perhaps you'd like to commit to one or two (or more) in the year and  mark them on your calendar now.
 
The first is on Sunday 26th February and will probably concentrate on completing the clearance of the thick overgrowth immediately above and below Chalfont St Giles village and general clearance of litter and light branches.   Please let me know if you will be able to join us: more detailed arrangements will follow nearer the time.
 
Although they tend to be sparsely attended, we are also setting out with the same format of "not a meetings" - our informal chats over a pint or two, when we "plan" (roughly) for the next work party and catch-up on the latest gossip about the river ............ and, usually much other stuff as well.  Everyone welcome and don't worry that you might get roped into joining a committee - we don't have one!   Our first for the year will be at 19.45 hrs on Thursday 2nd February at The Village Hall.
 
 November 26 2011
 
The degree of the current near-drought in our area was brought home to me on Thursday at an excellent talk by Allen Beechey of The Chiltern Conservation Board to The River Chess Association.  While lamenting our wanton waste of precious water - Bucks has the highest per capita water consumption in Europe! - Allen sympathetically described the real issues faced by the authorities - EA, Veolia, Government - in trying to balance increasing populations, decreasing resources, money and the environment.  Clearly, substantial changes in our habits, a further significant reduction in abstraction, and the good work of MRA (or The River Chess Association) cannot possibly reverse the consequences of this extended period of low rainfall by themselves, although they are all beneficial and worthwhile targets.
 
Regular readers of John Norris's statistics presented monthly in the "Dipping Records" and "The Misbourne Strikes Back" files on the MRA website "Facts & Figures" pages will already know that annual cumulative rainfall is amongst the lowest on record and that groundwater levels are exceptionally low.  For instance, Bottom House Farm now some 10 metres below bed level compared with 4 metres in November 2008.  A sobering long term observation is that it appears that the annual recharge period - i.e. when groundwater levels have an upward as opposed to a downward trend - is becoming shorter.
 
So, let us hope for a wet winter and soon! - (but not, perhaps, as wet as that of 2000/2001 which many will recall brought extensive flooding to the area.)  Meanwhile, we  look forward to discussing with Veolia and others the consultants' report due for draft issue in February on the recent reduced abstraction and/or augmentation of flow trials.
 
A rather small but nevertheless cheerful and productive work party last week made good progress with seasonal clearance at Bottom House Farm and through Chalfont St Giles village area.  We will shortly be working with EA on removal of an old weir behind Deep Mill Diner at Great Missenden - date tba: strong arms needed please.
 
Anyway, the main point of this circular is to confirm that, owing to popular request, we will be having an MRA Annual Dinner and it will be on Wednesday December 14th,  Venue is to be confirmed depending on final numbers.  Typical menus in the area at likely places are up to about £17 for two courses, £20 for 3.  Please let me know by next Thursday if you would like to join us for what has always been a very enjoyable, friendly and fun evening.
 
November 2 2011
 
Most of you will be all too aware that our river is dry, very dry, in a way that we had perhaps unrealistically thought we would not see again.  While dismayed by the lack of flow anywhere between Quarrendon Mill and Chalfont Park, we are not alone: there has been no flow at Great Missenden all year and the River Chess is largely dry.  I will update the website with the 1st November bore-hole dip readings in a few days but all that will be seen is a continuation through September and October of the fall in groundwater level which is now, incredibly, over 9m below river bed level for a substantial length between Chalfont St Giles and Amersham.  This is by far the lowest year since MRA began and is similar to the exceptional years 1992, 1998 and 2007.    Normally, November sees the beginning of the annual turn and we can only hope that we do see a return, if brief, of flows in the Spring.
 
So, are we downhearted?  Well, yes, a bit.  The optimism born of over two good years progress has proved unfounded and clearly, although obviously a positive influence, we can't make all the difference on our own.  The Chiltern Society's proposals to line two particular sections will address leakage though those sections only and, as Roger Lerry always says, should dramatically improve the rate of recovery after a drought, but won't prevent one!  The recent trails by Veolia Water working in conjunction with the Environment Agency provide significant encouragement in that a) we did have flow from Amersham to Water Hall when we otherwise would not and b) they show a real engagement with the second phase of the Alleviation of Low Flows (ALF) scheme.  We should not underestimate the problems faced by the authorities in juggling budgets, limited water supplies, environmental issues etc.  However, my particular concern is that the report on these trials is not published until next Spring.  Any agreed recommendations such as further reductions in Misbourne Valley abstraction and transfer of more water to our taps from the Colne Valley have then to be put to OffWat and, at best, would be included in the Asset Management Plans for the period 2015 - 2020.  I have therefore begun a personal lobbying campaign in an attempt to have the augmentation trials continued on a voluntary basis in the interim!  
 
Meanwhile, we had a super work party last month when we were able to take advantage of the easy access and ensure there was a clear stream bed between the vegetation for the whole length of the leat from Misbourne Farm to Mill Lane.  Well done all those who took part - age range approx. 6 and a half to 65 and including a very welcome number of new faces.
 
As ever, there are many important tasks looking for a home: MRA website?  Talking to  schools - (I thoroughly enjoyed my annual visit to Chalfont St Giles Junior last month and am really impressed by the way they use the river as a learning resource); flow measurements;  preparing outline pre-tender work plans , method statement, drafting contract documents for the Lining Project; providing memories, tales and/or photos of the river in days gone by and this one-man band would love to hear from you.
 
Our next Work Day is Sunday 20th November.  There is still plenty to do to ensure we optimise what flows we receive and to manage the river corridor: many hands will make light work and more fun - usual message ".....start 09.30 or to suit you, stay as long as you like: every little helps ...."  Please let me know if you expect to be able to join us and any preference for where, and I will put together a work schedule and send further details a couple of days before.  
 
I have to move the date of our "Not a Meeting" - i.e. a generally river related chat and opportunity to plan - from next week to the following Tuesday 15th November  - at The Village Hall from 7.45 p.m.

For the last two years, we have thoroughly enjoyed an MRA Christmas Dinner at a local pub/restaraunt.  I think we need to decide on 15th if we will try something similar this year so, please let me know before 15th if this is something you would support and any suggestions you may have for venue, date etc.

 

 
OCTOBER 5 2011
 Many thanks for contacting me about the proposed work party this Saturday.  Hopefully, there will be a few more by the weekend and I have copied this to a few extras from the regular squad in case you were about to!
 Well! - what to say?  The Veolia trial of injecting 2 Mld at Amersham ended on Monday 26 September with the end of the flow at approx Cherry Acre - 300 m upstream of Water Hall.  8 days later the river is dry from near The Ivy House - well upstream of Chalfont St Giles and, most devastatingly, "worse" than at any time since we started in 2008.  Quite obviously, the trial was just hiding this year's underlying very strong seasonal effect.  Other Chiltern chalk streams are suffering similarly.  So, do we give up and accept that our frustrating river will do its own thing and we are wasting our time?
The general view from those who I've spoken to this week is "Not at all!"  Our practical action is undoubtedly beneficial in extending and enhancing flows when we have them.  Our commitment in the field adds huge weight to our voice behind the scenes with The Chiltern Society, The Environment Agency, Chiltern Conservation Board, our MP and many others who can help our long term aims for sustainable improvement.  More than that, we quite enjoy ourselves and have met some nice people!
 
So the suggestion is that this Saturday, we take the opportunity to begin to ensure that the watercourse is in good condition to welcome the eventual return of flow.  Our focus will be The Mill Leat, north of Chalfont St Giles between Misbourne Farm and Mill Lane.  It is quite overgrown with giant willowherb (?) which pulls up fairly easily and we should be able to establish a central clear zone quite quickly so that returning autumn flows (if any!) can make good progress.
 
As usual, we will provide forks, rakes, saws, loppers, HI-vis vests, gloves, rubbish bags.  You are unlikely to get wet (depends on weather) but I would still recommend wellingtons, long tough trousers, long sleeves.  If you have a sickle, brushook, heavy duty strimmer, pair of seccateurs, they will be useful but I think it will be largely pulling.  Pleaee bring you own drinking water and elevenses.  
 We will start from 09.30.....or when you get there..... and probably finish around 1.00 p.m.  Park in the little road beside Misbourne Farm, i.e. the access road to the "Gorilla" compound,  off the A413 between Mill Lane and Bottom House Farm Lane.  Careful to park out of the way of the big trucks.  If you arrive after we start, cross the narrow wooden bridge and follow the path beside the river into the field and you should spot some yellow Hi-vis, or call my mobile.   
 Jill and Jo, I am happy to welcome children under your control and responsibility and they might enjoy exploring for a while and/or piling up stuff.  Under 7's probably unlikely to be able to do much and there are a few risks such as bits of barbed wire, branbles and rabbit holes.  
 
SEPTEMBER 24 2011

 
September Scribblings
We will have to wait for official results of the Veolia augmentation trials but the lack of obvious effect at Chalfont St Peter has been disappointing to the optimists among us.   Writing last month, I noted that "the end" was moving past Water Hall  towards CStP but it never got much further than the wooden bridge and has oscillated around there ever since.  Flow within CSG has continued to appear to be more robust than before the trials started.  One thing I would like Veolia to try while experimenting is splitting the augmentation between CStG pumping station - just upstream of Mill Lane - and at Amersham, rather than all at the latter.  
The situation on the surface is actually very similar to last year.  To some degree I blame myself that flow does not extend further downstream as many people have remarked how overgrown is the section below CStG and through the fields and, if we had held our September work party (with a good attendance), who knows?  A further complication has been the temporary blocking of the flow just above Water Hall by cows which trampled down the farmer's fence and river banks on their way to the apples in one of our supporter's garden!   Below ground, despite August's rains (179% of the long term average), groundwater levels are still at their lowest since 2006/7 with the water table at Bottom House Farm over 9m below the bed - perched flow indeed!
 
It was good to see a number of you at our stand at Chalfont St Giles show.  As usual, we received many general expressions of support and gratitude for all your hard work.  We were also delighted to sign up several new volunteers.
 
The CS committee continues to work hard on researches in preparation of a Heritage Lottery Fund application for the proposed lining.  Recognising that the Environment Agency have said they require a significant observation period after completion of the first section before endorsing another, it appears, disappointingly, that the application may have to target the London Road Dump section only.  If anyone would be able to help or advise with any of the following, or suggest someone, we'd love to hear from you: preparing outline pre-tender work plans and method statements; drafting contract documents; providing memories, tales and/or photos of the river in days gone by.
 
The invertebrate monitoring team have been out again and I will update their page on the website shortly. If anyone has any problems with, or suggestions for, the website, I'd welcome comments.
 
Our next Work Day is Saturday 8th October.  There is plenty to do and many hands will make light work and more fun - usual message ".....start 09.30 or to suit you, stay as long as you like: every little helps ...."  Please let me know if you expect to be able to join us and any preference for where, and I will put together a work schedule and send further details a couple of days before.  
 
Next Thursday 29th, we have a "Not a Meeting" - i.e. a generally river related chat and opportunity to plan for the 8th over a drink - at The Village Hall from 7.45 p.m.
 

SEPTEMBER 01 2011
 
"Just Add Water" - 4th September Work Party Cancelled - see you at CStG Show 
 
The trials by Veolia adding 2Mld to the river at Amersham commenced on Tuesday morning.  At that time, the natural seasonal regression of the river had caused it to dry back above Water Hall (i.e. more severely than last year, reflecting the dry weather last winter and hence lower groundwater levels this year).  This evening (Wednesday) a small but steady flow has returned past the wooden bridge opposite The Paddock and is headed towards Chalfont St Peter.  I understand that flows have also picked up significantly at Chalfont St Giles.  These trials are due to continue through much of September, so we can hope that we will see them show that constant flow through the valley is achievable with, frankly, not a lot of trouble.
 
To date, take up for working on Sunday has been slow with a number of people otherwise engaged this month.   Bearing in mind that several of the regulars will be on MRA duty at the Show on Saturday, also wishing not to disturb the natural course of the trials, and, in any case, thinking that this is a fairly disheartening time of year to be trying to clear the overgrowth, when nature will help us over the next couple of months, it seems sensible to cancel an organised event on Sunday.  If you were looking forward to the exercise, perhaps a little tidying along your favourite stretch would provide a rewarding hour.
 
If possible, please note now the work parties scheduled for Saturday 8th October and 20th November when we should be able to put things in good order for the winter and hence Spring 12.  At that time, we will be specially tackling the leat above Mill Lane and one or two other difficult areas .................. and, in November, we are promised a team of reinforcements from Goldhill Youth Group which will be super.
 
Meanwhile, we look forward to seeing you at the Show on Saturday  .... when the river should be in good heart adjacent to the field and there will be more to report regarding the trials.
 
P.S.  2Mld is 2 million litres per day or 2,000 cubic metres or about 18,000 gallons per hour or approx. the typical summer flow at CStG.  In many ways of looking at it, this is not " a waste of water" as it is taken from the aquifer to which it returns  a few kilometres downstream having seeped back through the river bed.
 
 AUGUST 22 2011
 
An excellent turn-out in July - over 30 people - enabled us to cover almost the full stretch from Mill Lane to Chalfont St Peter.  For a while, that effort resulted in a brief return of the river to the CStP Council Offices but the seasonal trend has been such that, within just a couple of days, "the end" had moved back into the field below Water Hall.  (See graphs on the website to get an idea of how low the water table is this year)
 
As reported last month, Veolia plan to trial the impact of returning 2 Mld (2 million litres per day) to the Misbourne at Amersham, near the Jaguar Garage.  This is part of a long running study between Veolia, Environment Agency and others into ways of improving the balance of abstraction (which we all need so we have water to drink) and flow in the rivers (which we all want to improve the environment in which we live).  The trials comprise 2 days "commissioning" which was carried out between 9th and 11th August, which did result in some noticeable improvement all the way down towards Chalfont St Peter where it was reported that "the end" was briefly advancing by some 2 feet per minute across the field to the tennis courts before the test ended.  A full 4 week trial is scheduled from Tuesday 30th August to Monday 26th September.   However, it is not intended to implement any solution from these studies before the next AMP - 2015 - 2020: all the parties have undertaken to do in this AMP (2010 - 2015) are the studies.  Personally, I am delighted that these authorities are looking at what can be done.
 
Meanwhile, The Chiltern Society are re-drafting the Lottery Application for lining the sections discussed previously, taking on board feedback on the first draft.

 Saturday 3rd September we will again have a stand at the Chalfont St Giles Show and look forward to seeing you there plus would be very grateful for offers of assistance in manning the stand for a while.
 
And, before then,  we will be at The Village Hall pub this Tuesday 23rd August from 7.45 p.m.   Come and join us for a drink and a chat about any or all of the above, or something completely different. 
 
JULY 26th 2011
 
With thanks to those who have already let me know regarding our work day this coming Sunday, this reminder that we will be out and about again from 09.30 and need as many workers as possible.
 
Given the overall lack of rain in the past three years, it is amazing that we have continuous flow through our section of the valley all the way to Chalfont St Peter. There has been no river at all this year from the source at Mobwell through Great Missenden and down to near Little Missenden.  The ground water levels – currently 5m below river bed level at Chalfont St Giles are typically 2 m below last years levels.  In the last couple of weeks though, it is clearly slackening and, if we are to have any chance of maintaining it through to the autumn some urgent maintenance is required.  Basically, this comprises raking aside the fools cress and other weed that is choking various sections between Mill Lane at Chalfont St Giles and Chalfont St Peter and clearing branches and other debris obstructing the flow.  We know from experience that a few people on a section can make a really significant impact surprisingly quickly and our previous work has made the maintenance a lot easier than the original clearance.  However, if we don't keep at it......................
 
We generally start work about 09.30 a.m. but anything goes.  You must expect to get wet and muddy and have some fun.  You are advised to bring good Wellington boots and old clothes.  We have work gloves, Hi-vis, collecting bags and some tools but you may prefer to bring your own heavy duty waterproof gloves, maybe a garden rake and, if you have one, a bill hook. 
 
If you can join us, this Sunday, even if just for an hour, we would love to see you but please don’t just turn up!   Contact me, preferably by e-mail, for further details – so that gangs and sections can be planned and work prioritised.  Ideally we need to field teams of 2, 3 or 4 to each of:
  • Mill Lane to end of Mill Farm 
  • from there to back of St Giles Library (need waders)
  • past C St G Pond through to the Church Bridge
  • from Church bridge to the blasted tree (need waders?)
  • from blasted tree to bend before the horse field  (need waders?)
  • from bend through horse field to open field
  • through open field to Water Hall
  • Water Hall through to Cst P tennis courts
  • CStP tennis courts through to allotment bridge
  • Allotment bridge through to Community Centre Bridge
  • Community Centre Bridge through to Garden Club Hut
  • Garden Club Hut to Greyhound
 
So that is a lot of people needed!!!  If though, you would prefer to work with some friends at another time in the near future and would like to take on one of these sections (or part), that would be wonderful and we'd love to hear from you.
 
 
 
 JULY 11th 2011
 
Particular thanks to Ray Randle, John Norris, Dave Cooper and all who helped at the MRA stand at Feast Day last month.  Many visitors to the stand expressed delight at the continued flow of the river and their appreciation of all our work.   A good number of new recruits joined our ranks.   MRA's efforts were also applauded at the recent annual forum of the Chiltern Conservation Board where our presentation on the River, its problems and our work was well received.
 
Another presentation at the same event was from Veolia Water.  Two interesting snippets for you:
  • As part of their environmental studies, in conjunction with the EA's sustainable abstraction programme, Veolia plan to trial the impact of returning 2 Mld to the Misbourne - probably at Amersham for an initial period of two weeks.   (2 Mld is roughly equivalent to present flow at Chalfont St Giles, a good springtime flow at Chalfont St Peter, or 10% of typical flow behind Tesco at Amersham)
  • Veolia anticipate that, if it goes ahead, construction of HS2 would force the abandonment of at least the pumping station at Chalfont St Giles.  They have serious concerns regarding its potential impact on groundwater movement and the river.  (Note: the HS2 consultation closes on 29th July:  http://stophs2.org/hs2-consultation )
 
Mike Lowings writes that the invertebrates group have completed their first set of data for the Misbourne following their course in May. Results look pretty good and importantly they are above the trigger levels.  I will add these and subsequent results to the website and we look forward to hearing more of their expeditions.
 
The July groundwater dips recorded levels that are virtually their lowest in the last three years with further falls lilely between now and the usual recovery in November.  The spring fed back stream at Chalfont St Peterr has not run at all this year and yet our cherished small flow continues all the way along the valley.  However, it is easy to see how vulnerable it is to the overgrowth of summer weeds.  Having cancelled the full working party in June because of lack of available support, we actually made a surprisingly strong impact with the seven stalwarts who joined for a quick couple of hours although nothing like enough to restore the channel condition we had achieved in April.  
 
So, we have a lot of hard work to tackle on our next foray - Sunday 31st July and need a bumper turnout.  Please let me know before the 21st (see below) if you will be able to join us on the 31st, and, if you have a preference, where you would prefer to work.   As always, every little helps - one hour, all day, a.m. or p.m. - all welcome. 
 
Our next "not a meeting" will be at The Village Hall pub on Thursday July 21st from 7.45 p.m.   Come and join us for a drink and a chat about any or all of the above, or something completely different. 
 
 JUNE 2011
 
Our peculiar river continues to flow continuously through the valley but a convincing explanation of how is still elusive!   Certainly, our efforts in May, when the work groups managed to visit almost the whole length from Mill Lane through to Chalfont St Peter centre, will have helped.  The difference between the swampy field N of Chalfont St Giles a few months ago and the clear stream now running through the same field is quite dramatic - congratulations to all who have battled with the deep silt through here.
 
Now Brian Young has made such a huge difference immediately downstream of Bottom House Farm Lane,  a further onslaught is planned in the next reach, behind Arklow Kennels.   Meanwhile, of course, the weeds continue their fight back so the attractive sight lines at CStP and the cleared route through CStG will, no doubt, need another visit at our next session on 18th June. 

As there was a positive response when it was mentioned before, and subject to continued flow and reasonable weather, we''ll have a picnic and some fun after the working morning on the 18th.  I'm envisaging "bring your own" lunch and gathering near the wooden bridge at, say 1.00 p.m. in the field by Water Hall - parking in The Paddock - pooh sticks, duck race?, rounders?   So, please let me know both if you expect to be able to join the work party on the 18th and/or if you are interested in such a happening (no need to do "A" to join "B"!).
 
Our invertebrate measurers enjoyed their training day and have begun surveys on the Misbourne with an outing to near the weir downstream of Chafont Park lake, where they found a healthy range of small life.   Some more detail will be added to the website soon.   The level survey work around the London Road dump has confirmed the perception of an unsatisfactory inconsistent gradient in that reach - something to be addressed if/when the lining proceeds.
 
We will be at the corner table in The Village Hall Pub this Thursday evening, 9th June, from 7.45 p.m. if you would like to join us for a drink and a chat.  I'm sure topics won't be exclusively river related but it would be good if we could make some progress with planning and preparing our inputs to:

  • our presence at Chalfont St Peter Feast Day - Saturday June 25th  - volunteers wanted even for just a half hour on the stall please
  •  
  • our presentation and presence at the Annual Forum of the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project - Tuesday 28th June (morning)
  •  
  • our presentation and exhibition at the VOPAG (Village Older Persons Appraisal Group) Open Meeting - Tuesday July 19th (morning)
  •  
  • our presence at Chalfont St Giles Show - Saturday 3rd September - volunteers wanted even for just a half hour on the stall please
  •  
  • an evening with Chalfont St Giles Guides (tbc)
 
........... also, I'd love to be making more headway with collecting and sharing tales (tall or otherwise) and pictures from days gone by.  (I learned the other day that a certain gentleman was in the habit of canoeing between his home on the outskirts of Chalfont St Giles and the  Merlins Cave pub!) 
 
May 2011
 
April showers seem to have passed us by this year. The news is full of bush fire stories.  John Norris' observations for April  in the " Facts & Figures " section of our website show a second consecutive very dry month.  The groundwater levels summarised at  " Quick View " are at 4-year lows for this time of year and the spring fed back stream at Chalfont St Peter is bone dry.  We have checked with Veolia Water and they advise there has been no reduction in abstraction.  And yet the Misbourne continues to flow continuously through the Chalfonts without "the gap".   It's nice to think that our efforts have something to do with this and in many places the recently emerging gravely bed supports that thought.  However, some of the facts, e.g. the healthy situation upstream of Quarendon Mill where we have done nothing, raise questions not resolved by reference to our efforts.  "Answers on a postcard, please"!
 
Anyway, its good to see the silver ribbon scintillating in the sunshine along the valley.  I hope we can muster a good turnout for our next Work Party on Sunday May 22nd.   A good effort this month is essential to keep the channel open and maintain the viewpoints we have been creating.  Please let me know if you can join us and we can start planning which of the many needy locations to tackle.  Supporters from both St Peter and St Giles will, no doubt, also be wanting to make their river frontages are as attractive as possible for the Best Kept Village judges visiting in June.
 
As it is fairly close to the river, you may be interested in, and possibly have a view on, the plans for a Waste Transfer Station to be built adjacent to the Recycling Centre at the London Road Depot - see this link .   This reach of the river, of course, is one of the two sections the Chiltern Society has identified for lining.  We now have surveys in hand and, following an encouraging briefing meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund, drafting of the application for Lottery Funds is being finalised.  Letters of support have been received from both Chiltern District Council and Chalfont St Peter Parish Council.
 
Other dates for your diary and appeals for assistance include 25th June, Chalfont Fair  - and 3rd September, Chalfont St Giles Show,  and don't forget that, after the June work party on Saturday 18th June, we aim to have a family picnic.
 
if you would like to enjoy a drink and a chat about these or other matters, do join us for "not a meeting" at The Village Hall pub, Chalfont St Peter next Thursday, 12th May from 19.45 hrs.  (Yes, you are right, this was to have been 10th May but a business trip has forced a change and I know some of the regular attendees prefers a Thursday anyway).
 
 2011 (nearly)
 
Quite a few imminent matters to mention so this note comes earlier than usual.  Perhaps I'll then leave you in peace for a leisurely Easter and Royal Wedding season?
First, can I draw your attention to a meeting regarding the proposed HS2 at the Chalfont St Peter C of E School, Church Lane this Saturday, 2nd April, at 10.00 a.m.  There will be displays, including of the river, and presentations from HSAA and The Chiltern Society.  I am assured these will cover the potential threat to the very existence of the River Misbourne through the valley as outlined in this paper by the Chiltern Society's  geologist Haydon Bailey.  In summary, Haydon suggests the proposed railway construction risks:
  • long term damage to the Chalk aquifer system 
  • pollution of the main water supply system for the north western Home Counties area and potentially further into north London 
  • serious ground collapse in areas with deep sections of weathered chalk
  • total loss of surface flow in the Misbourne River system and the destruction of the adjacent habitats
  • the aesthetic loss of the Misbourne River and its replacement by a dry valley
 
The environmental studies for the lining project are getting underway.  Land surveys commence next week beside the Recycling Centre and along the leat north of Mill Lane and the invertebrate monitoring squad set off for their training with the RiverFly Partnership  in a few days time.  The land surveyor will be generally self sufficient but I would like to create a rota of volunteer visitors who would be willing to pop by during the day, ensure all is well, maybe help clear particular obstructions, share a flask of coffee?  Please let me know if you might have a spare hour or two next week.
 
We are also preparing under the Chiltern Society banner for a meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund with regard to  funding the project on Friday 8th
 
Meanwhile, flow through the valley continues to be exceptionally good - continuous all the way through to Chalfont Park and beyond to the confluence with the Colne.  This is again a significant  year on year improvement, even though the Chalfont St Peter springs and the backstream are still not running this year, due to the low annual rainfall and hence low groundwater levels.  
 
Turnout for the March work party was well down on what we have become used to but some good work was completed.  Between the ford at Mill Lane and Chalfont St Giles, we now have a clear river which we hope will keep going through the summer without reverting to an overgrown swamp.  Elsewhere, some useful clearing and tidying was achieved and good progress was made with establishing view points at Chalfont St Peter.
 
It would be   to have a good turnout in April.  We will aim to clear young weeds before they get too big and to ensure everywhere is as good as we can make it before our long break and what is probably the most attractive time of year by the river.  I hope you remember we changed the date to Saturday April 9th.  Just an hour or two makes a big difference and most people leave, dirty, wet and happy at lunchtime.  Please let me know if you expect to be able to join us and I will circulate some suggested jobs and allocations late next week.
 
Finally, everyone is welcome to a drink and a chat about River Matters and other things - "not a meeting" - in the Village Hall restaurant area, next Tuesday evening, 5th April, from 7.45 p.m.
 
That's all folks!  - hope to see you soon.
 
March 2011
 
The river has been flowing right through Chalfont St Peter for nearly a month now (since our Work Party on Feb 12th).  "So what?", you may ask, "Surely, that is what happens towards the end of the winter?"  Well, yes, you would be largely correct but followers of the monthly rainfall and groundwater level dip statistics will be aware that cumulative rainfall in the past 5 months remains below the long term average, and groundwater levels are a good half metre below normal for the time of year.  Indeed, the spring fed "backstream" is still quite dry.  Clearly, and unusually, the welcome flow through the village is "perched flow" brought down the valley in our cherished channel.  Unless rainfall moves back towards long term averages, which it did in February, it may be difficult to sustain but it is an encouraging start to the year.
 
As scheduled, our next drink & chat  - "not a meeting" - will be at The Village Hall, Goldhill Common, this Tuesday 8th March from 7.45 p.m.  As before, we will be at the 'L-shaped' table in the corner of the restaurant area.  
 
Moving on, the March Work Day is on Sunday March 20th.  Last month we made a very good impression on several of the target areas - particularly, hydraulically,  just upstream of Chalfont St Giles and, cosmetically, around the Community Centre at Chalfont St Peter.  These and the other usual areas will benefit from further attention and it would be good to also tackle some work a little further upstream by the dump (recycling centre).  So, lots to do -  please let me know if you expect to be able to join us, even for an hour,   I will reply with work plan ideas a day or so before when we know roughly how many we will be.
 
I know several of you have marked your calendars with the year's programme and I am sorry that it has become necessary to move April's programme.  The Work Day will now be Saturday April 9th and we will need to meet for plan and chat on Tuesday 5th.  Apologies for any inconvenience.  Of course, there';s nothing to stop anyone doing their thing on the original day and the usual kit can be made available if required.
 
Chalfont St Peter Feast Day is on 25th June. As previously, we will be with the Village Appraisal Group.  Please let me know if you would spend a little time on the stand.
 
I don't think there is any more news for the moment.  I look forward to seeing many of you at the  events above and hope that, in any case, you will have an opportunity to enjoy the river in some spring sunshine.  The walk between the Chalfonts is just lovely!
 
 February 2011
 
Various bits and pieces for your perusal:
 
1) Funding for training of volunteers for invertebrate surveys has been agreed by Chiltern Society and Chiltern Conservation Board.  The training day is being organised and I hope I have contacted everyone who expressed an interest in this: if you did and I haven't, please call me urgently.
 
2) Thanks to those who have offered to assist with the topographical surveys on 22 and 23 February.  Since scoping this for construction purposes, the requirements have expanded to meet new information on what is needed by the consultants for their flood risk assessments.  This, in turn, gives further issues with gaining permissions for access to more properties and, indirectly may lead to a change of survey company. If the dates have to change - (quite likely) - I will let you know asap.
 
3)  MRA is not and will not become a political or campaigning body.  However, if you are interested in the river, you may be interested in this paper http://www.chilternsociety.org.uk/hs2/dloads/HS_routes_geological_paper.pdf by the Chiltern Society geologist, Haydon Bailey.  It gives an interesting overview of the area's geology as well as drawing some alarming conclusions regarding the possible effect of HS2 upon our river.
 
4) If you regularly walk in the fields between the Chalfonts, can you help explain the following?  
    …… on Saturday morning (29th January), …….there was flow to The Greyhound.  At about 2.00 p.m., there was none at the Vic Wotton Bridge, none at the Community Centre Bridge and none at the little brick bridge! but plenty of ice  remnants confirmed the water had been there.   A mini "wall" of muddy  water appeared from the North and, within minutes it was past the Community  Centre Bridge heading for the village.  An hour or so later, there was  strong flow past the Greyhound, past the precinct slip road, under the  Chiltern Hill Bridge and into the new industrial estate.  Alas, we  waited in vain for it to emerge at Woodside Close and, by late  evening, it had regressed again to the Vic Wotton Bridge area.

Theory 1 = some human intervention e.g. abstraction fluctuation or  operation of sluices or farm work.

Theory 2 = The river froze solid at some point upstream of CStP and  blocked itself.  The water under the ice seeped away, depositing the  ice remnants onto the bed.  Then the freeze thawed, releasing the  dammed waters in a rush which I witnessed entering the village.  I  think I favour  this theory for this particular happening. 

 
5) Thanks to those who responded to the query regarding visibility of graphs on our website.  This should be OK now - please let me know if not.
 
6) A welcome number have confirmed your availability for this Saturday's work party but I'm sure lots more of you will be letting me know soon that you intend to join us!   We have lots of big and small jobs lined up and it really does help organise for best results if you can let me know well in advance.  As usual, a detailed e-mail will be sent on Thursday/Friday with rendezvous arrangements.  For the heavy gang, there is plenty of debris causing backing up just upstream of CStG village as this picture - who can bring some waders?  Fear not - there are plenty of opportunities for lighter engagement as well!
 
 
 
 
7) Bitter -sweet.  And finally, this picture shows the perched flow currently frustratingly disappearing just upstream of Chalfont St Peter Village Centre.  The good news is that, only last year, it was doing just this in the first field down from CStG.
 
 
 
 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!                                                                    23 January 2011 
 
Your river has held up really well over recent months - never receding back far above Chalfont St Peter tennis courts and always in good flow through Chalfont St Giles and across the fields below.  It looked extremely pretty during the big freeze, as you can see in the pictures below taken by Geoff Coleman.   Today, it's almost into Chalfont St Peter village - partly thanks to a really good effort by Ray Randle and friends last week.  On the website you can find a graph which demonstrates progress in the last two years.  On 1st January 2009  the river was dry from just above Mill Lane, a km or so upstream of Chalfont St Giles; on 1st January 2010 it disappeared in the first sheep-field downstream of Chalfont St Giles and, on 1st January 2011 - still flowing over 2 km further on.
 
In fact, the whole section from Bottom House Lane all the way through to Chalfont St Peter is now in pretty good condition thanks to your efforts.  Exceptions include the stretch immediately N of Chalfont St Giles and one or two very local spots.  The rest appears to require just very light work at present , though this will obviously get heavier into the Spring.
 
Meanwhile, further preparation has been made towards the trial lining Project and topographical survey work will be undertaken in the next few weeks.  To keep the survey costs down, we have said that we will provide the "chainmen" - that is the people who carry the staffs and hold them in place - (including in the river - waders will be provided!) - while the surveyor takes his readings, holds one end of a tape measure while he reads the other, maybe clears small branches or undergrowth if in his way,  etc.  We anticipate the survey work will take a couple of days, maybe running into a third and are looking for volunteers.   No experience needed!  I would suggest we split it into half day shifts.  The likely days are Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd.  If you can help on the morning or afternoon of either day, please let me know.
 
For 2011,  I have posted proposed dates for Work-days and the informal pub chats, which we call "not-a-meetings", on the Future Action area of the website.  I hope that having a plan at this stage will be helpful to you and we'll try to keep changes to a minimum.   Details for each month will be circulated by e-mail and added to the website as usual.   Our first Work-day will be Saturday February 12th.   Very sadly, The Three Pigeons, which has made such a good base for us and hosted another excellent end-of-season/Christmas dinner, is currently closed.  We very much hope that Matt, Nikki and the team can sort out the issues and reopen again soon.   So we look forward to seeing some of you for a drink and natter at the  first "not-a-meeting" of 2011 on Thursday 3rd February from 7.45 p.m. at The Village Hall pub (Goldhill Common, Chalfont St Peter) when we will finalise Work-party arrangements for the 12th.  These will probably include a major push in the field above Chalfont St Giles and under the Pheasant Hill Bridge; some work from Cherry Acre through Water Hall; and general quick and light clearing through as much open area as we can cover.  As always, to help plan, it would help a great deal if you could let me know on or before 3rd if you expect to be able to join us on the 12th.
 
By the way, if anyone has difficulty accessing pages or attachments on the website, please advise me.  I was using someone else's computer the other day and found they could not see the graphs on the "Facts & Figures/Quick View" page.  Is this a common problem?
 
       
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 MRA - Good News                                                   08 November 2010
 
There is quite a bit to report this month and its all very encouraging!
 
We are delighted that, after many months (or is it years?) of discussion,  the Environment Agency has decided to support The Chiltern Society's proposals for lining the river bed as a trial in the area of the Council Tip (Recycling Centre) near The Ivy House Pub.  This means that the Planning Application can move forward and, most importantly, we hope that the Lottery Application will now be looked upon favourably.  Many of you will know that the plan is to use a natural clay like material sandwiched between layers of sacking, buried below the bed - no concrete, no plastics.  All being well, the aim will be to carry out the actual installation in about a year from now when flow is at its annual minimum but there will be much preparation beforehand.
 
I now have 6 names on the list of people interested in becoming involved in invertebrate surveys - (Mike, Caroline, Dorothie, Carole, Christa, Jane) - which is a goodly number.  If I have missed you or you would like to be added, please let me know this week as I would now like to move forward and arrange the introduction to the experts in the EA and appropriate training.  There is a need for this work in any case but particularly to inform "before and after" comparisons for the lining.
 
The weather was very kind again for our work party on Saturday, when we had 27 volunteers working in various locations between Chipstead Farm and Lower Road, Chalfont St Peter.  Now we have most areas relatively tamed, it is very rewarding how quickly progress can be made.   Key tasks included some substantial clearance at the leat,  removal of choking weed at CStG, some "gardening" around The Greyhound, rediscovering the backstream at CStP and coaxing the leading edge across the fields.  It was good to find on Sunday that our efforts had brought the small stream all the way back to the tennis courts.  Flow this far south at this ebb time of the year is remarkable, if not unheard of, in recent years and you can be proud that John Norris reported to the Chiltern Society Rivers and Wetlands Group AGM that he was at a loss to explain it without blaming the MRA!
 
These ramblings now have a voluntary circulation of more than 200 and are also copied to several interested oreganisations and officials.  As always, if you would really rather not have them inflicted upon you, do please let me know.  I sometimes have periods of depression imagining that they go straight into peoples junk-mail so the occasional bit of feedback is always very welcome.  I would still be very grateful for one or more volunteers to act as "telephone tree" to help us keep in touch with supporters who don't use e-mail.
 
If you would like a drink and a natter - not necessarily about the river! - do join us for a "not a meeting" at The Three Pigeons on Tuesday 23rd November from 7.45 p.m.

Our next (and last in 2010) work party will be Sunday 28th November.  I expect we will be concentrating on the leat (between Misbourne Farm and Mill Lane) and the last 250 metres upstream of the Pheasant Hill Bridge as well as general TLC around CStP.  Do please let me know if you think you might be able to join us - just an hour or two is much appreciated.  I am arranging more tools etc as I was nearly overwhelmed by the welcome late contacts this week.
 
Finally, our end of season Christmas meal will be going ahead but please note this will now be on Wednesday 15th December.  Last year we had a very enjoyable time and this year's 3-course price is £2 less per person with the possibility of further reduction if our numbers increase.  Thanks to those who have committed already so that we could confirm the event - I look forward to hearing from lots more of you in the next few days.   Details, including menu, are on the website: call now to avoid disappointment!
 
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October 2010 - MRA October
 
After the chaos of last month's circular which some received fine, some received one or more attachments only and some apparently didn't receive at all, I'll keep this message simple.
The Chalfont St Peter work group last month did a fantastic job and we also made a start on the seasonal unclogging of the Mill Leat.  All in all the corridor is now in pretty good condition all the way from Misbourne Farm to below Chalfont St Peter, with just a few sections  needing some maintenance.   
in a few days, the website will be updated to show this month's flow, distance and dipping readings.  Adding some earlier records to the graph issued last month underlines the change over the last two years and it is hard to see any other explanation for the substantial improvements than our efforts.  As always, much of the information has been provided by John Norris, John Gladwin and Dave Anderson who do a wonderful job month on month recording river data for The Chiltern Society (with essential help from friends like you!).  This data is shared with the Environment Agency and should help ensure that decisions taken and work done affecting the river are soundly based. 
The main measurement exercises each month are borehole dipping (normally on the 1st of the month) and flow measurement.  It is the flow measurements which are the most challenging, involving some rather repetitive and time consuming readings with at least one of the team spending some time standing in the river!  They are also the most important in demonstrating (or perhaps otherwise) the case for localised remedial lining to get and keep the river flowing through the Chalfonts.    Could you join the pool of  measurers from whom we would draw occasionally?  And, by the way, we and the Environmental Agency would welcome some more volunteers for training in and undertaking some invertebrate surveys: I'll be sorting out the training day shortly.

The trickle of people registering their interest in our activities continued in the month and this News now has a circulation of well over 200.  However, I am conscious that I am not following through with several supporters who have only given phone numbers and don't use the Internet.  I wonder if two or three of you would be prepared to become our "telephone tree" - basically a monthly call to up to half a dozen people, passing on our news and views. Maybe this role would suit one of the several of you who have told me how much you support what we are doing but are unable to help us with the physical work on the river?  If this interests you, please  call to discuss.

Last year we had a very enjoyable "end of season/Christmas " meal and we decided at our recent "not a meeting" to go for the same again this year.  We have a provisional booking for 7.30 p.m. onThursday 9th December.  I have put the details on the website (under "Future Action") - it looks even better than last year and it is slightly cheaper - even if I can't negotiate a further discount! Please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to join us: if necessary we will work on a "first come, first served" basis.

Our next full work day will be on Saturday 6th November when we will be welcoming some additional support from the Chalfont St Peter Youth Centre.  Work plans are yet to be settled. Please let me know as soon as you can if you expect to be able to join us, though I'll probably be in touch again beforehand.

Finally, I look forward to seeing as many as fancy a chat and a natter - i.e. "not a meeting" - at The Three Pigeons, Austenwood Lane on Thursday 21st October from 7.45 p.m.  
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September 2010
 
Our three work groups last month were again very satisfied with what they achieved: channel clearing between Mill Lane and Chalfont St Giles till the water was so deep they could go no further!; tidying around the Stone Bridge in preparation for the Show and an excellent effort coaxing the leading edge all the way from the Tennis Courts (where we left it the month before)  through to the Community Centre Bridge at Chalfont St Peter.  Over the past couple of weeks, this limit has eased back a hundred yards or so but overall the extent of flow compared with a couple of years ago is quiet amazing.
It was also gratifying to find that the July clearance downstream of Chalfont St Giles had not been overgrown.
We enjoyed our day at the Chalfont St Giles Show and again received much support.  Thanks to the various helpers.  It was nice to chat with several of you who stopped by the stand and we were very pleased to sign up a good number of new contacts.
 
Looking back a bit, on the 20th August, we had a meeting with the Environment Agency in their offices at Hatfield.  Their main reason for the meeting appeared to be to obtain Chiltern Society comments on the recent "Fluvial Audit" by the consulting engineers, Jacobs,  but I think both "sides' saw the opportunity for becoming more aligned.  We had some robust discussion regarding the proposals for localised remedial lining, which is still very much on our agenda and the meeting provided a useful chance to introduce the Environmental Impact Assessment scoping document which MRA/CS member Adrian Marsh has prepared to accompany the Planning Application.  We resolved to make a start with some of the studies and, in particular to assist EA by providing occasional survey data regarding the population of various larvae and creepy crawlies in the bed.  If you are interested in becoming trained (only takes a couple of hours) and getting involved in this work, please let me know (no need to say again, if you replied when I asked a couple of months ago,)
 
Our September "not a meeting" - (i.e. an informal drink and chat regarding matters river or not) is  this Thursday 16th at The Three Pigeons, from 7.45 p.m.  Our work party will be on Sunday 26th, as scheduled, starting at 09.30.   I'm not at all sure where and what we will be doing but, as always, I'd be grateful if you would let me know if you expect to be able to join us and, as always, even just an hour will be much appreciated.  Details nearer the day.  (The workday scheduled for October 30th is likely to be postponed to November 6th).
 
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July 2010 The July Epistle
We were very pleased with what we achieved last Sunday at both CStG and upstream of the tennis courts at CStP. At CStG we cleared "tons" of choking weed, dramatically alleviating the boggy patches on the path between the bridges and, at CStP, flow was re-established to within a few hundred yards of the tennis courts. At both ends, people certainly got very wet and muddy and also appeared to have a lot of fun. As always, It was really good to welcome some new volunteers and to continue to receive consistent support.
Revive the Wye, a local community partnership working to restore and revitalise the River Wye, is hosting a "master class" on river habitat enhancement by the Wild Trout Trust.  The event is aimed at providing local river volunteer groups with the knowledge they need to carry out sensitive and achievable river habitat enhancements on their rivers. It will be held on Wednesday 25th August at Kingsmead in High Wycombe and take the form of a practical workshop where a dozen or so attendees from various organisations like ours will be able to practice methods  to create habitat diversity (and avoid damage).  If you could attend on our behalf, please contact Roger Lerry - rogertlerry@talktalk.net - so that he can add your name to the list and send you further information about the day.  (Note: he tells me the Chiltern Society can provide waders).
 
While talking of lists, we now have a good pool of people from whom to draw for the regular flow measurements we are now undertaking, but more are always welcome.  I'm told it is an enjoyable day, with a convivial break in the middle.  No doubt offers of assistance for half a shift would be well received.   Basically, it involves 3 or so people in a team, water, stop watches, a couple of  not very complicated gadgets, a tape measure and waders.  Please let me know if you would like to become involved and I will forward your details. 
 
Some excellent work by members Adrian Marsh (an environmentalist) and Helen Ash (hydrologist) was reviewed enthusiastically at a recent meeting of the CS Restoring the Misbourne Steering Group.  We hope that it will facilitate the long sought for agreement with the EA on the way forward to long term substantial improvements at the leat and the London Road dump.
I'm keen to hear from more people who would like to undertake some of the fieldwork - habitat surveys etc. - being mooted by Adrian.  In a separate development, we have been invited to meet with the EA for a workshop to look at prioritising habitat restoration for the River, under their "Sustainable Abstraction Programme". 
 
Wanted:-
a couple more old 1 cubic metre/ 1 tonne builder's merchants bags
  • scythe(s)
  • sickle(s)/bill hook(s)/brush hook(s)
  • a petrol strimmer
Our next "not a meeting" - i.e a friendly, vaguely river related, non-structured chat over a drink - will be at The Three Pigeons, Austenwood Lane, Chalfont St Peter next Tuesday 27th July at 7.45 p.m.  Find us to the right of the bar. 
 
After that, we should be back onto the programme originally published at the beginning of the year and so our next work day will be Saturday 31st July.   Even though there is no water at present - (apologies to anyone caught in a downpour today!) -  there is still much to do at St Peter, particularly tidying the unsightly, overgrown central areas and also working with the "heavy gang" encouraging flow towards the village.  At St Giles, the priority will be to continue clearing from where we reached last Sunday, just past the blasted chestnut tree, through to the open fields.   Having achieved the main target of draining the boggy areas, the aim now is to ensure maximum flow on into the fields, leading to further improvement.
 
These remain BIG JOBS, so we need as much help as we can get.   If you can join us - even if just for an hour or so - please let me know.  We will be convening at 09.30 by the Community Centre in CStP and by the pond at CStG, but you arrive when you wish!
 
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JULY 2010 June News - The Sequel
With half an eye towards those who may have a residual interest in World Cup football, and more particularly recognising the number of "regulars" who are on holiday next week, we have moved the next work party date again to Sunday 18th July. While C St Peter readers may find it hard to believe, the river is still flowing so well at C St Giles that the choking weeds are causing real problems of flooding between the village bridges and immediately downstream. This will also be restricting the onward flow into the fields and if that dries up completely, we risk the bed cracking again. (We think this year's relatively good flow has quite a bit to do with the fact that it didn't dry out last summer/autumn and hope that this year's lubrication will lead to even better flow to Chalfont St Peter next year).
There is a substantial leak at the leat to be tackled and general maintenance through that section. And, while lacking some water, there are several key points through Chalfont St Peter where attention will yield quick rewards. So, in short, there is a huge amount we can be doing and a really good turnout is called for! If you can only make one day this year, can I suggest that this is it? ....... and, as always, every little helps, so if you can only offer an hour or so, that will be very welcome. If you expect to be able to join us, please let me know - it helps with organising tools and planning tasks etc. There isn't much other news.
You may have noticed that the old substation compound by the Garden Centre at Chalfont St Peter has been substantially removed, which is great news. We look forward to completion of that exercise when it may be that there will be something that MRA can do to maximise the benefit of this improvement to the riverside walk. The "illegal" river crossing opposite Cherry Acre with its two restricting pipes has also been removed, which, for the river is more good news ........ but is a bit of a nuisance for some walkers! Once again - all hands for the 18th please!
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JUNE 2010 June News
A pleasant day on the Common at Chalfont St Peter Feast Day yesterday, soaking up the sun, talking about rivers and signing up a few more volunteers. Many thanks to everyone who took a turn on our stand. Last month, I was reporting flow along the whole stretch through the Chalfonts while noting the increasing amount of weed. In the event, not many of us could make the work day but those who did carried out sterling work to clear a channel through the worst areas.
Now, a month on, flows are dramatically less and, in fact, zero through much of Chalfont St Peter. The link between the villages is once more broken, with the stream from Chalfont St Giles now disappearing above Water Hall and, everywhere, the weed growth is prolific. In these circumstances, it is a little more difficult to be enthusiastic about a work party in July. However, it could be that there are some significant blocks upstream of Chalfont St Giles and specific problems elsewhere that would respond to a local blitz. I intend to check out the usual spots in the next couple of days and a decision can be made at our next "not a meeting" which, by the way, is now changed again to Thursday 1st July at 19.45 in the usual spot to the right of the bar in the Three Pigeons, Austenwood Lane. I look forward to seeing some of you there. I will relay the outcome in a further circular.
The application for Heritage Lottery Funding for lining of target areas has been sympathetically received but, understandably, the funders say that they cannot move forward until the proposals have approval from Environment Agency. As most of you are well aware, understanding of the EA's position and requirements has been challenging us for many months and two expert members of the Chiltern Society/MRA are now drafting scoping proposals which we hope will enable clear discussion and finalisation of the purpose, detail and acceptance criteria for any further studies and surveys.
Meanwhile, flow measurements continue, with particular attention to the anticipated areas of loss. (If you would like to join the "pool" of people undertaking this work, please let me know. The measurements take about a day a month but obviously not everyone in the "pool" is needed every month). One of the most frequent questions from people yesterday was around the whole issue of "Why does the Misbourne disappear downstream of Chalfont St Giles and reappear at Chalfont St Peter?" A simplified answer which I usually give is as follows:
From the source at Mobwell, just north of Great Missenden to joining the River Colne at Denham, our river has three separate personalities.
1) From its source all the way to downstream of Amersham, it behaves as a fairly conventional chalk stream i.e. it is fed by groundwater in the chalk and it starts where this groundwater meets the surface.
At this point will be a spring but the point will move up the valley when groundwater level is high and down the valley in the summer. So, from the Black Horse pub at Mobwell all the way down to Great Missenden is likely to be flowing in spring and dry in autumn – a “winterbourne” – with fairly constant flow from Great Missenden to Amersham.
2) From a little way downstream of Amersham to just before Chalfont St Peter, is usually a “perched stream”, i.e. the groundwater is some distance below the river bed and any flow is merely that from the upper reaches carrying on as if in a gutter. In this area, the underlying chalk is more porous and fractured than higher up the valley and so, through this section, except when ground water levels are exceptionally high, water seeps back into the ground and often disappears completely
. 3) From Chalfont St Peter to Chalfont Park it is once again a winterbourne. The start of spring fed flow moves seasonally between somewhere near Water Hall and the lake in Chalfont Park from which it flows reliably to the Colne.
 
inevitably, the detail is  more complex and some can be found on the website in the facts and figures section, which we are slowly expanding. 
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May  2010

Spring has sprung; the River's Riz.  I wonder where the fishes iz.

Great news!  Not only has the Misbourne been flowing under the wooden bridge at Water Hall for the past few days but tonight there was an (optimistic) heron trying its luck by the adjacent pool. 
John Norris advises that this is the first time the river has made its way the full distance from Chalfont St Giles to the Chalfont St Peter springs area since 2005.  I hope its good health owes something to all our efforts.   Recently, flow measurements being taken by The Chiltern Society have given the clearest evidence I have seen of losses in the Restoration Project target areas of a) the mill leat and b) the London Road Depot - roughly in the same order as the total flow past Chalfont St Peter Community Centre last week.   There are some anomalies that continue to puzzle me - groundwater levels are lower this year than last and, indeed, this month than last; correlation between rainfall and flow is not obvious etc. yet the flow has strengthened significantly.  We very much appreciate the information passed on by John, Dave Anderson and other Chiltern Society observers - much of which is added to our website as often as I can.  Analysis and discussion continues.
I didn't do well last month, resulting in the cancellation of our pub chat and late "organisation" of the work day, which undoubtedly lost us some workers on the day.  Nevertheless, we managed some rewarding tidying up and general enhancements.  This month, we will have our "not a meeting" at the Three Pigeons at 7.45 p.m. on Tuesday 18th May and our Work Day, as planned, will be on Sunday 23rd May.  PLEASE let me know if you will be able to join us on 23rd - every little hour is much appreciated.
Both dates in June are a problem for us and the Work Day (27th) clashes with the Village Barbeque following Feast Day on the 26th.  We will discuss options on 18th May and let you know.
Thanks to those who have expressed interest in chain-sawing, brush-cutting, flow measuring, bat-counting, invertebrate surveying etc.  I am passing contacts on and/or replying as relevant.  Meanwhile, speaking of Feast Day, I would love to hear from you if you can help chat with interested parties for just half an hour or so..... please!
Looking forward to hearing from you
                    
The normal view - e.g. July 2009                                                      May 2010                        
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April 2010                    So near and yet so far!
 
With excellent work by the team, including our 3 A-level geography students plus Dave and Ken, working through the woods downstream of Cherry Acre,  we had good flow to Priscilla Cottage by lunchtime on the 28th.  By teatime, we had coaxed the river all the way through Priscilla Cottage and Water Hall grounds.  A few days later, this trickle had become a significant flow extending 50 metres further into the field. A little extra help on the following Saturday brought us within sight of the wooden bridge and, indeed, the marshy ground at the head of the Chalfont St Peter springs beyond.  However, with the last few days of (welcome??) dry weather and, possibly some management of upstream sluices, things have eased back a  bit and the joining of the waters is as elusive as ever - perhaps emphasising the criticality of selected bed repairs.
Nevertheless, good flows continue through both villages and also Chalfont St Peter back stream, itself the focus of a massive effort by another group from our near record turnout last month.  It is particularly pleasing to see the river flowing past the area downstream of the Vic Wotton bridge, cleared and planted by Ray and team last year.
Despite equipment problems and some unhelpful weather, efforts have continued to establish a detailed record of flow and losses in the various reaches all the way through the valley downstream of Amersham Church. 
As previously advised, April work party will be on Saturday 24th.  At present, it doesn't seem like a major project day - more a gentle housekeeping exercise, in both villages and between, inevitably some rubbish removal, and a chance to enjoy the river.  If you can be with us, even if just for an hour or so, please let me know and I will put something together and advise details in due course.  There will NOT be a planning/chat this Thursday due to absence of most of the usual attendees.
Now folk, especially the silent majority, we really do need some volunteers to help with the following:
manning (or ladying) our stand in conjunction with the Village Appraisal Group at the St Peter Fair on              Saturday 26th June - even a half hour stint would be welcomed
  •  ditto at Chalfont St Giles County Show on September 4th
  •  assisting with flow measuring - the more volunteers we have, the less often each will be called upon for this  exercise
  •  
  •  undertaking surveys of
    • invertebrate life iN the river
    • bats
    • voles
  •    people willing to undertake training in the use of chain saw and/or brush cutter
  •    text and pictures of the river in days gone by
Looking forward to hearing from you, I think that's all our news for now.
Best wishes
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06 March 2010                    Springs have Sprung
 
It was lovely to see a young family playing in the river in the sunshine this morning - two little boys in their brightly coloured boots: there will be frog spawn before long. This is a rewarding time of year to be involved with Misbourne matters!
We had a very productive day on 21st February with groups scattered over some two miles of river from Misbourne Farm almost to Cherry Acre. A little additional work last week by the weekday troop completed the tidying and as much plugging of the leat as we can do and serious blockages on the reach past Mill Farm were cleared. All this and some gentle husbandry through St Giles left a good strong flow to the far end end of Lower Stone Meadow from where we set about encouraging it on its way to Chalfont St Peter. As of now, there is significant flow past Cherry Acre and, of course, spring flows resume by the tennis courts and behind the football club in Chalfont St Peter. We can hope that this good start to the season and our future efforts will achieve the link up of "the two rivers" which, despite huge advances on 2008, was narrowly missed last year. Some of this can be seen in the various tables, charts and reports on the Facts & Figures page of our website. There will be plenty to go at during our work party planned for Sunday 28th March including channel clearance immediately upstream of Pheasant Hill, from Cherry Acre through to Water Hall, and the backstream at Chalfont St Peter, the usual rubbish removal though the villages etc. I hope it is clear that an hour or two of assistance is very welcome - it is by no means expected that everyone will want, or be able, to spend the whole day. If you can join us, please let me know and I will advise more precise details following our planning session at the Three Pigeons, Austenwood Lane, Chalfont St Peter on Thursday 18th March (19.45hrs). Do join us for a drink and a natter. The Chiltern Society Misbourne Restoration Project Committee continues to press forward on several fronts as best we can: meeting local contractors, applying for funding grants, arranging flow measurements with our recently acquired equipment at specific locations, etc. A large amount of information has been received from the Environment Agency that will be very useful in compiling some of the analysis and reports required. The requirements range from flood risk assessments through to analysis of the possible effect of the proposed work on natural invertebrates and much more in between. Its a daunting exercise but, little by little, progress is being made towards ensuring a fully informed decision. Meanwhile, we will keep on doing what we can to encourage and enhance the flow we have!

 

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4th February 2010             Misbourne River Action - February 2010 This just briefly to say that if you fancy a pint at the Three Pigeons, Austenwood Lane, Chalfont St Peter, on Tuesday 16th February from 19.45 hrs, we will be in the area to the right hand side of the bar. Apart from hearing Ray and Angela's travelogue and your tall stories about incredibly perilous journeys in the snow, we will no doubt be making plans for the Working Party scheduled for Sunday February 21st - likely to be focused on the leaky leat above Mill Lane. Unless something special turns up, to avoid bombarding everyone with too many e-mails, I will only send details of arrangements for the Working Party to those who let us know they intend to join us on the 21st. (I will also post them on the website). Do please let us know as having an idea of numbers really does help make arrangements. During the past month, the Chiltern Society has been having fun with the flow gauging equipment loaned from the EA. We hope this will be useful in further developing our joint proposals for future improvements to flow in the valley. If anyone would like to join the "Gauging Team", please let me know: if we have plenty of people on the rota, it shouldn't be a burden. By the way, despite several invitations and much general support, we are still looking for some specific commitments towards our aspirations of wildlife surveys, collection of river anecdotes etc. Best wishes Bob **************************************************************************** 21st January 2010 MRA 2010: to boldly go .................... With Christmas, New Year and Global Warming (aka snow) having been and gone, no doubt you are all wondering what is going on with your river. We saw the close of last season with a very enjoyable dinner at the Three Pigeons. Fun and festivities were somewhat tinged with regret as we were also saying farewell to Naomi Hirst, who has moved North having been a huge part of our infancy. We wish her well and look forward to her promised visits South. We kick off 2010 with advice that, although reasonable flow is maintained through Chalfont St Giles, there is at least one significant leak in the banks of the leat upstream of Mill Lane. A small group has committed to tackling this with a short work party this Sunday (24th) 13.00 hrs to 16.00 hrs. If you would like to join us, please contact me for further details: if we have excess capacity, we can continue the general leat clearance unfinished last November. Looking forward, we propose an initial schedule for 2010, very similar to 2009 - see Future Action.  All to be confirmed but definitely worth a note in your diaries now.
Last Saturday, we enjoyed talking with visitors, and supporters, including Cheryl Gillan, to the Chalfont St Giles Revitalisation Group's Project display regarding plans for new amenities by the river in Stone Meadow. Possibly at least partly due to Cheryl's interventions, we (Chiltern Society) have had some more positive contact with the Environment Agency recently. This has included provision of some existing archive information for use in preparation of our case for action and loan of basic flow metering equipment. If you would be interested in becoming involved in on-going observations of flow, bats, invertebrates, voles, or anything else, we would be delighted to hear from you. At our Steering Group meeting last night, we resolved to work towards achievement of all necessary permissions, completion of design, contract procurement and funding in place by end 2010 ready for bed and other repairs/restoration work in 2011. Meanwhile, I'm sure we will enjoy "messing about in the river" during the coming months, maximising what flow we can capture by good husbandry of our precious river.
We look forward to seeing you/ hearing from you and your continued support.
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9th November 2009                 MRA Work and Play
 
For our last working party of 2009, next Sunday 15th November, we decided to concentrate on the leat upstream of Mill lane, Chalfont St Giles.   From the experience of the last year, it appears that the condition of this section has a direct effect on flows through Chalfont St Giles and beyond.  We hope that some work now, when water levels are down, will give us a good start next year.  There will be a bit to do to organise for the day, not least wrt parking, and we need to set targets to suit resources available.  It could even be that we can tackle something else - e.g. tree management in Chalfont St Peter if enough people are available.  So, please let me know asap if you will be able to join us for all (or part) of the day.
 
For our seasonal get-together, we have booked a meal at The Three Pigeons on Thursday December 10th at 7.30 pm.  The attractive menu has several choices for each course and comes at just £25 per person for three courses and coffee.  There is limited space so first come, first served - RSVP to me asap.  
 
By the way, if you would like to be added to the list of those supporters who wish to share their contact information - e.g. for arranging weekday activities - drop me a line and I will be happy to reissue it.
 
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1st November 2009                 Into Year 2 but still uphill
At last month's work parties, some of us had a lovely muddy time at Chalfont St Giles clearing a channel under the Pheasant Hill Bridge. This activity involved lost drain-pipes, marooned footballs, an initially beautifully clean dog (whose owner had assumed they were out for a peaceful Sunday walk until Naomi introduced them to MRA), yards of rope and a new device best described as a "pick-rake". After this and Brian & Di's intensive clearing and fish rescue downstream of Mill Farm, there was plenty of water to show off Gill & Rose's handiwork past the church - a duck's delight. (Join us on Tuesday for more tall stories) Gill & Rose woz 'ere                                             Ducks vote for MRA
          
 
However, life is full of disappointments!   Having flowed through Chalfont St Giles since we coaxed in the first trickle of the recharge last February, the river disappeared last week.  Maybe the rains promised for this week will help get us off to a good start next season.
Less transient is the work undertaken by the C St P contingent where, I hope, these "before and after" photos of the area by the Vic Wotton bridge give an impression of the improvements that have been made.
 With a weedy fence                          Without a weedy fence
 
                  
 
All through the year, it has been great to receive so much support from everyone including, particularly, countless passers-by to these and similar projects.  It was therefore very encouraging that the Environment Agency opened our recent meeting with a statement confirming a policy aimed at preserving/enhancing the environment directly for the benefit of the people within it.   Nevertheless, their letter received yesterday, while providing some hopeful comments, indicates there is still an awfully long way to go before we can reach agreement on even an affordable study period!  

Meanwhile, we soldier on: -  a)  This Tuesday 3rd November = we look forward to seeing regulars and not so regulars for a drink and a natter (on all the above and the below) in the reserved bar area of the Three Pigeons Pub, Austenwood Lane, Chalfont St Peter.  (NOTE: NOT the Village Hall, this time)
  •  b) Thursday 5th November = MRA meets the Chalfont St Peter Scouts  c) Wednesday 11th November = 2nd Steering Group Meeting of the Chiltern Society River Misbourne Project  d) Sunday 15th November = last working party of 2009 - details to follow next week but likely to include winter preparations to the Mill Leat at Chalfont St Giles.    e) Thursday 10th December = MRA Christmas gathering - details to follow.  See you somewhere along the line I hope; bye for no
     
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    12th October 2009            MRA:  The Future - starting this Saturday. I held off sending details of this coming Saturday's working party so that I could let you know how we got on at our meeting with the Environment Agency today at Hatfield. On balance and all in all, I think the answer is "pretty well". There was plenty of energy and apparent goodwill around the table and a shared vision that "good" means regular flow along the river through our communities. We developed some clarity around the scope of the study that is needed before a decision can be made as to whether the EA will sanction the local bed repairs ("lining") which the Chiltern Society propose. Crucially, there was an agreement to pool data and information and not to revisit everything that had been determined previously. There was also commitment to timescales of a) EA to reduce, refine and reissue their requirements within 3 weeks (i.e. by the end of the month), b) for Chiltern Society to submit study proposals during November (subject to availability of funds) and c) target completion of the study by March 2010. Perhaps understandably, the EA could not commit to saying that the end of the study would automatically lead to agreement to the proposals: that's the point of the study! Once again, it was apparent how important you are! The fact that so many of you have registered your support and willingness (latent in many cases!) to help is a powerful negotiating point and not lost on our MP. Furthermore, I'm not alone in suggesting that the continued stream we have nurtured this year through Chalfont St Giles to the fields
    will be gently easing silt into the cracks and generally sealing the bed for next season.  If  we receive similar recharge to last year between now and next Spring,  we will be effectively starting off 3 months ahead of where we were this year. 
    However, back to reality!  So far I have just 12 confirmed players for this Saturday.  No doubt some more will be there on the day but it really does help plan, decide what to tackle, what tools to mobilise , how many biscuits to buy, if you drop me a line beforehand.  Remember there is no need to sign away your whole day - an hour or so is always much appreciated.   Tasks for the day will include:
     
    Chalfont St Peter: rendezvous point at Community Centre from 09.30 - "gentle jobs" as
    Remove worst of the straw left behind by maintenance gangs;
  • Minor work to trees working from ground level only - Greyhound towards Scout Hut
  • Backstream clearance under drainpipe
  • Clear cans, bottles etc exposed by maintenance clearance Scout Hut to Tennis Court
  • Weeding by VW bridge on-going
  • Chalfont St Giles: rendezvous point by Pond from 09.30  -  good Wellingtons definitely required for;
    Make channel through silt and compacted grit under Pheasant Hill Bridge.  Does anyone have some thin rope - 30m or more?  Does anyone have any drain rods?  Does anyone have a short range two-way radio?  
  • Quick, routine easing of the channel from Pond to Field fence
  • Clearance of grass and weed alongside field fence
  • Removal of dead blanket weed in sheepfield if it appears to be impeding the little trickle which is bravely pushing onward.
AND, depending on numbers and our earlier contact with the farmer, we would also like to do some work at Bottom House Farm.
 
In November, I propose we have our workday on Sunday 15th (probably focused on the leat at Mill Lane) and I will book The Jolly Farmer Room at The Village Hall pub from 8.00 pm on Tuesday 3rd November for our usual beer and chat session.
 
Probably none of us want a working party in December but it might be nice to have a Christmas Drink on say Thursday December 10th evening.
 
That's all folks,
 
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5th October 2009                       MRA - News & 08 +17 October
 
Another month gone by and, as usual, some ups and downs in the river's affairs,
 
We were delighted with the achievements of last month's working party.  Having persevered for several years to secure the necessary approvals, Sandy was very happy to witness the removal of the redundant fence by the Ellwood House site.  This has made a significant difference to the area around and downstream of  the Vic Wotton bridge, building on the continuing efforts of Ray, Dave and co. We were also really pleased to welcome new members Karen and Keith who double-handedly neatly and rapidly despatched fallen trees from the backstream.      With further heaps of fools watercress and debris removed from upstream, the long suffering scout's trailer worked hard that day and the six loads over the weighbridge at the tip totalled over 1500 kg.           
 
          
                        Fence                                          No fence!                      Scouts trailer - much appreciated
Again the turnout at Chalfont St Giles was rather less but nevertheless important in optimising the available flow. .  It is good to see that the stream is continuing so well for the time of year -  all the way into the field beyond the village.
It is very disappointing to note that three months after The Chiltern Society's encouraging meeting with MP Cheyl Gillan and senior officers of the EA,  we are still awaiting detailed specification to enable commencement of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the lining trials at London Road Depot and upstream of Chalfont Mill.  There is another meeting on 12 October after which we really do hope to be able to start moving forward. 
 
On the positive side , we have had good and supportive contacts with Veolia (previously Three Valleys Water), who own land by the Chalfont Mill Leat.  We also had a very productive site visit to the Thames Water Amersham Balancing Tanks site at the London Road Depot.   This was my first sight of this stretch of river that is targeted for lining and so very helpful in appreciating the issues of access, temporary diversion etc.   It was also good to see this facility in good order and its control much improved since the issues that arose some years back
 
EA contractors have strimmed their way through CStP in preparation for winter storms.   Opinions differ within both the EA itself and MRA regarding their method and the result from an environmental standpoint  but it certainly removes an on-going chore from our next working day - Saturday 17th October.   We have quite a list of jobs in mind - ranging from possible excursion to Bottom House Farm to clear the clogged watercourse; attempting to clear silt and grit from under Pheasant Hill bridge, tree maintenance at CStP, and a variety of specific minor tasks.  I have booked the Jolly Farmer Room at the Village Hall pub on Goldhill Common for this coming Thursday 8th October from 8.00 pm when we can enjoy a drink while we plan some detail around these jobs, maybe welcome some new faces and  review progress with the lining project.
 
We continue to receive a steady trickle of new contacts signing up (now approx. 130) and many supportive comments.  Yesterday several of us attended the Chiltern Society's River & Wetlands Group's AGM.  I was impressed and humbled by the range and professionalism of activities undertaken by peer groups such as The Ver Valley Association, Impress The Chess, Revive The Wye and others.  I am still struggling to find time to really get to grips with our website.  Is there anyone with time and expertise to take this to another level?  Would someone like to develop a "nature watch" element to our activities?  Would someone like to take on creating and managing a "telephone tree" for the several members we are loosing because I only have time for communication by e-mail? Any other bright ideas?
 
So, hoping to see you on 8th and/or 17th - please let me know if you expect to be able to help on the 17th,
 
Best wishes and bye for now,
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8th September 2009                MRA - Sunday 13th and weeds
We had a good afternoon on Saturday at the Chalfont St Giles Fair, receiving a general murmur of support and a number of welcome new contacts/potential volunteers.
Last Thursday, the few of us who met at The Village Hall agreed that there were plenty of tasks for the working parties this Sunday but that we would leave deciding what to tackle until we had a better idea of numbers and Dave had completed a recce of the various ideas. As always, it would help a great deal with planning the day, organising tools etc., if you could let me know if you expect to join us. Come what may, volunteers congregating at the Chalfont St Peter Community Centre will be welcome from 09.30 and the first focus will be removal of the redundant fence near the Greyhound and continuation of the general "civilisation"of that area. Others have already said they will continue with removal of the worst of the overgrowth past the Council Offices and there are a couple of small jobs planned for the backstream. The Chalfont St Giles cohort will meet by the duckpond at 10.00.
There is a thought that we should tackle the flooding at Bottom House Farm and/or clearance of overgrowth and debris downstream of the ford to encourage the remains of this year's flow into the village. On the other hand, if numbers are really limited, maybe just some local tidying and further easing of the channel downstream. Rivers in England are affected by a number of invasive plants. One of the most severe is Himalayan Balsam which has been an issue on the River Chess but, as far as I am aware, not on our stretch of the Misbourne. We have however begun to see an increase in its cousin Orange Balsam .  If this week's walks identify substantial outbreaks of one or the other, removal will be added to our job's list.   More likely the orange balsam is still at the "here and there" stage and control - (i.e at least removal of the flowers before they can "pop" and seed) - as part of a gentle walk is probably appropriate.   At this time of year the river and the small tributaries are overwhelmed by Fools Watercress with its celery like stalks and white flowers, which is a native perennial.  While providing a marvellous protective habitat for all sorts of snails, small amphibians etc., it does hold the water back and, in extremes causes flooding such as of the fields at  Bottom House Farm currently.  Like it or loathe it, there is no way we will ever eliminate it nor should we wish to.  However, clearing a narrow channel through it appears beneficial and encourages the river to flow more quickly exposing the gravel bed.  Within a few months it will die back, to reappear next year, initially  as deceptively small and attractive tiny green leaves.
 
For the working parties, as usual, we can provide gloves, hi-vis, rubbish bags and a selection of tools but if you would prefer to bring your own, the most useful include strong rakes.  People are welcome for as long or as little as they wish.   We generally stop around 1.00, when some go home and some break for pub lunch and resume after about an hour and a bit, sometimes joined by others coming for afternoonive tiny green leaves.
 
For the working parties, as usual, we can provide gloves, hi-vis, rubbish bags and a selection of tools but if you would prefer to bring your own, the most useful include strong rakes.  People are welcome for as long or as little as they wish.   We generally stop around 1.00, when some go home and some break for pub lunch and resume after about an hour and a bit, sometimes joined by others coming for afternoon only.  If you arrive during the day and can't see anyone, call my mobile 0781 651 4868.
 
bye for now
 
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29 August 2009               MRA - August/September
Following the crucial meeting with MP Cheryll Gillan and senior officers of the Environment Agency a few weeks ago, Roger has been making good progress with fleshing out the detail of the plans to address "the leaky bits", as one of our friends calls them. These are the sections singled out for lining trials upstream of Chalfont Mill and near the old sewage works. A Steering Group is being set up under the Chairmanship of John Taylor, Chairman of the Chiltern Society. Roger has met for more detailed discussion with potential contractors and various thoughts are emerging with regard to fund raising and project management. Currently, we are still eagerly waiting the EA's specification for the Environmental Study, which we are impatient to get underway. Meanwhile, we continue to receive a strong message of support for our aims and a trickle of new volunteers. Quite a number of you have asked to be on the "shared list" of names and contact details. I will send it separately to those that have, and leave you to contact each other with notices regarding relevant activities. Please use the "shared list" with consideration as, once issued, I have no way of recalling it and we obviously don't want MRA to become a nuisance! For the general mailing list I will continue to use "bcc" and if you wish to be relieved of my ramblings at any time, just drop me a line Just a few responded enthusiastically with regard to a social event - e.g. barn dance - so, unless someone wants to champion something different, we might just think about a small dinner or lunch later in the year. We will have a small stall at Chalfont St Giles Show, next Saturday 5th September. If you are attending, I do look forward to saying "hello" but it would be even better if you could possibly spend a little while with us talking to the punters and hearing their views. So far, I have very few helpers so if you think you can join us, please let me know. Hopefully, there will still be some flow in the river, which, compared with the recent past is good for this time of year and, just maybe owes something to our first year's efforts. We have booked The Jolly farmer Room at The Village Hall pub on Goldhill Common for this coming Thursday 3rd September from 8.00 p.m. and look forward to seeing anyone who would like to join us. As always, this is a "not a meeting" but an informal drink and chat about where we are, what's happening, what we would like to happen, and an opportunity to say hello to new faces and catch up with old ones. No need for prior notice, just turn up if you feel like it. Our next Working Day is Sunday 13th September. The plans for the day will as usual evolve to suit the numbers of volunteers stepping forward and the ideas/priorities decided on Thursday. One spot we will be working is between the Vic Wotton bridge and the Greyhound. Sandy Warren of the Village Environmental Appraisal Group has, after much effort, succeeded in obtaining all the permissions for us to remove the redundant chain-link fence next to the area where Ray and his team have started. Thanks to Gary at The Greyhound for his help with this. No doubt the Chalfont St Giles team will be wishing to press on downstream and I will check out whether we need to go back to Mill Farm again. Anyway, if you think you will be joining us on the 13th, please let me know. Recently we heard of someone who used to regularly canoe between Chalfont St Giles and St Peter and I also heard of a hatmakers (or was it baskets?) at Amersham who use to send their produce to London by starting off with it in a small barge down the Misbourne to the Colne and thence the canal at Denham. If anyone has similar anecdotes, better still pictures, it would be great to share them. That's all for now. ********************************************************************************5th August 2009 Your MRA needs you t was again good to meet with a few friends tonight (6 in total + 7 sent apologies) but, inevitably, part of the discussion revolved around how to engage the silent majority! Amongst other things it was suggested that people might like to have the ability to e-mail and/or phone each other and we started a base list. If you are happy to have your name, e-mail and/or phone number on a list which I will distribute as an Excel file to everyone who wants to be on it, please let me know and include your phone number as, in many cases, I only have the e-mail address. I know that there are already a couple of sub-lists in existence covering the CStP weekday team etc and maybe this is a way to bring together some more groupings who find their availability suits better than the "organised" work parties. While responding to the above, if not already done so, you could also let me know a)what you think about the idea of a social event b) if you expect to join the teams this weekend c) what would make MRA tick for you. Anyway, it was good to hear Roger talking positively about possible sources of funding for addressing "the leaky bits" as Sandy calls them. At present, numbers look very limited for this Saturday but Dave, Naomi and Di plus all comers - (only 4 of you so far) will kick off on Saturday 0930 by CSt P Community Centre and 1000 by CStG pond with a view to a) continuing the nettle clearance around the Vic Wotton bridge plus any other tidying b) continuing the gentle easing and forming a walking route downstream of CStG towards the field c) if sufficient resource, some fairly rough re-clearing of the channel downstream from Mill Lane ford. As always, if you would really prefer NOT to be on this circulation list, do let me know but, on the other hand, if you like to stay with us it would be good to know you are still there! .... and thanks to all those who have been in touch from time to time. Your support is much valued. I promise - no more mails for a couple of weeks at least! ********************************************************************************11 July 2009
We (a few) had a good chat at Village Hall on Thursday and it was good to know there is still plenty of enthusiasm for our efforts and to hear of the general murmur of support from visitors to the stand at Feast of St Peter. We must make sure we have a presence at the St Giles show on 5th September as well. Apart from continuing with general tidying and easing and also supporting the Chiltern Society drive towards earliest possible treatment of leaking sections, we thought that key areas for our attention in the next few months would be:
 
  • Around and downstream of the Vic Wooton Bridge, particularly working with the Village EA group to remove the obsolete fence asap
  • Work with C St P Village council and Haywardens towards removal/resiting of the old compound asap
  • Initiate an accurate and up to date bed level survey
  • General cleaning between C St P precinct and Chiltern Hill
  • Work with residents backing onto the river from Woodside Close through to the A413 and across the roundabout to ensure flow is nor restricted
  • Continue to ensure the Chalfont St Giles Mill Leat and flow through the stretch downstream of the ford is optimised

For tomorrow:

  • Chalfont St Peter team to convene 10.00 a.m at Community Centre – probably one cohort to then despatch to Chiltern Hill
  • Chalfont St Giles team (both of you at present!!) to convene 10.00 a.m. by Stone Bridge – detail as my separate note to Karoline.

Further discussion with Roger Lerry of Chiltern Society this morning: he continues to be very optimistic that we have a significant movement forward towards the planned bed improvements.  

 
Best wishes
 ********************************************************************************

04 July 2009   
 
Just back from holiday and still far from caught up with myself so apologies for late note.
 
While flow in Chalfont St Peter has ceased, it is really good to see it continuing through Chalfont St Giles and well into the fields beyond.  Clearly this is “perched flow” fed from the upper reaches and, I like to think, has been helped by our work on the Mill Leat and downstream to and through the village.
 
Great news then that, just this week, Roger Lerry received strong support from Cheryl Gillan, our MP, in a meeting at the Houses of Parliament to present the Chiltern Society proposals.  I understand that a key factor in the success of these discussions was the depth of local support and existence of a community group – aka MRA!
 
Special mention to Ray Randle and the “weekday” team for their sterling effort a couple of weeks back and to Andrew Wilson and supporters for providing our presence at Chalfont St Peter Feast Day – see photo attached with John Norris, Andrew Wilson & display
 
In my diary it says 12th July – MRA Work Party?  What about yours?  Given the depth of overgrowth and lack of water at Chalfont St Peter, the obvious tasks are a) a quick litter pick and debris removal upstream of the Greyhound and b) a first hit at the stretch downstream of the shopping centre.  At Chalfont Gilles, I suggest a refresh past the farm downstream of Mill Lane, any tidying through the village and perhaps some channel clearance downstream of the Church Bridge.   Please let me know asap if you expect to join us for any of the above – it is a busy time of year and if no-one is available, we might cancel this time.  (I’ll send another note on Friday evening).      
 
Finally, I look forward to catching up with some of “the regulars” and maybe meeting some new hands in The Jolly Farmer Room at the Village Hall from 08.00 this Thursday.
 
Best wishes

********************************************************************************
31 May 2009
The walk the other day with Allen Beachey of the Chiltern Conservation Board was interesting and blessed with good weather.  It was good to meet with people who are working with similar enthusiasm to our own on the Chess and Bulbourne, to name but two. Highlights included a grey wagtail perched in dappled sunlight on a small log in some fast flowing water.
I was delighted to return home that evening to receive a copy of the following which some of you may already have seen on the Chalfont St Gilles blog:
10  May   As a flyfisher and conservationist I have been noting the fish now resident in the stretch of water between the pond and the churchyard bridge.Rainbow Trout all witnessed and shown to schoolchildren and their parents. 12'' fish badly infested with parasites. 10'' fish and 8'' fish both in good condition. A small shoal of 1 year old fry resident by the churchyard bridge. The 3 large rainbows could be escapees from Shardeloes.
30 April   Well done to those volunteers who have worked so hard to clean up the Misbourne. I stopped on the foot path bridge (behind the church yard) this morning and looked in the river, hoping to see some signs of wild life in the water. I could not believe it, when I spotted a 30cm plus fish, almost motionless, swimming against the current. I am not an expert on fish, but I have referred to the internet and I think it was a river trout. I am sure that all of those involved in the clean up will be pleased to hear this great news.”
As you know, our next organised day is next Sunday 7th June.  Chalfont St Peter team morning session will meet 09.30 by Community Centre with the aims of  a) easing a clear channel through the weedgrowth from tennis courts through to Greyhound, including backstream b) clearing short sections of bank and river to create attractive glimpses of the river c) specific clearing by Community Centre etc.Chalfont St Giles team will meet 10.00 in usual spot byStone Bridge with general plan to work downstream as required.Chalfont St Peter afternoon session will meet 2.00 by Community Centre and carry on where the morning left off! 4.      Many people have asked for dates in advance so please note the following:·        Sunday 12 July·        Saturday 08 August·        Sunday 13 September·        Saturday 17 October5.      Everyone who responded to my “thoughts for the future” musings in the last note supported the idea of more frequent events in order to keep making steady progress and to give more chance of a date that works for them on whatever cycle they wish.  That’s great, but what I need now is for someone/several people to grab a date not listed above and let me know they would like to have an event then. We would publish in the usual way, provide tools, kit etc but Cheryll and I would probably not be there.  6.      Ray Randle has an occasional mid-week team and if that suits you, please let me know and I will pass on details. 7.      27th June is Chalfont St Peter Feast Day with all sorts of things happening on Goldhill Common.  Cheryll and I will be on holiday but the plan is to have a small Misbourne River Action stand – (e.g. a small gazebo + table + flyers + some photos).  Please let me know if you could help with a little time on the day – shall we say 40minute stints? – explaining MRA and encouraging new supporters. 8.      I’m delighted to advise that our new recruits this month includes The Greyhound pub and we look forward to working with them to try and maintain one of the most difficult yet public stretches of the river to the benefit of all.

Enough for now – hope to see you next Sunday. 
6th January 2009
As we swing into 2009, I thought you might be interested in an update of our activities
to date and plans for the Year ahead.
 
Last year, as you probably know, working with the Village Environmental Group and BCTV, we
participated in the two "de-clutter days", painted the bridge over the river by the Community
Centre and opened up the spring-fed backstream by the allotments. This has been flowing well for
several weeks now.
 
In 2008, we also gathered a lot of support and goodwill. The Parish Council have kindly paid for a
Group Activities Insurance for us through BCTV and have reserved a small sum for additional
tools and expenses in the future. The Chiltern Society River Group, chaired by Roger Lerry, is
very excited about our ambitions and this is leading to great support behind the scenes in
discussion with 3rd parties. We have also researched various technical options and established
contact with a couple of helpful contractors.
 
This last weekend, a small reconnaissance group walked from Chalfont St Peter to Misbourne Farm
(just short of the Ivy House pub on the way to Amersham) where the river is flowing strongly. As
predicted by John Norris, it is quite clear where the water is disappearing into the ground over
a short section downstream of the farm and upstream of Mill Lane. We believe that attention to
this would dramatically improve the flow and associated environmental appeal and diversity along
the whole valley through Chalfont St Giles and Peter. We lunched at Merlin’s Cave with much
optimism that the problem is indeed manageable and pleased with the sacks of rubbish we had
collected along the way. Meetings with 3rd parties, including Chalfont St Giles PC are
anticipated in the next couple of weeks and I hope to be able to report in more detail shortly.
 
Meanwhile, we are working towards establishing a simple web-site and still hope to have an exhibit
in the library before too long. Early February we hope to have a day both clearing rubbish and
easing the channel at selected points between the tennis courts and The Greyhound. You may have
noticed that the springs in the field near the tennis court are currently showing well
 
Our numbers grow steadily with this note going out to some 20 households and many others having
expressed good intent but not yet sent me their e-mail addresses. Given the various "flyers" in
shops in the village and some media coverage, it is surprising that the majority of the parish
haven't heard of us at all - Please tell your friends/neighbours and give my address to any who
are interested (or who may have a different view)
 
Best wishes
 only.  If you arrive during the day and can't see anyone, call my mobile 0781 651 4868.
 
bye for now
 
 ********************************************************************************
the plans to address "the leaky bits", as one of our friends calls them. These are the sections singled out for lining trials upstream of Chalfont Mill and near the old sewage works. A Steering Group is being set up under the Chairmanship of John Taylor, Chairman of the Chiltern Society. Roger has met for more detailed discussion with potential contractors and various thoughts are emerging with regard to fund raising and project management. Currently, we are still eagerly waiting the EA's specification for the Environmental Study, which we are impatient to get underway. Meanwhile, we continue to receive a strong message of support for our aims and a trickle of new volunteers. Quite a number of you have asked to be on the "shared list" of names and contact details. I will send it separately to those that have, and leave you to contact each other with notices regarding relevant activities. Please use the "shared list" with consideration as, once issued, I have no way of recalling it and we obviously don't want MRA to become a nuisance! For the general mailing list I will continue to use "bcc" and if you wish to be relieved of my ramblings at any time, just drop me a line Just a few responded enthusiastically with regard to a social event - e.g. barn dance - so, unless someone wants to champion something different, we might just think about a small dinner or lunch later in the year. We will have a small stall at Chalfont St Giles Show, next Saturday 5th September. If you are attending, I do look forward to saying "hello" but it would be even better if you could possibly spend a little while with us talking to the punters and hearing their views. So far, I have very few helpers so if you think you can join us, please let me know. Hopefully, there will still be some flow in the river, which, compared with the recent past is good for this time of year and, just maybe owes something to our first year's efforts. We have booked The Jolly farmer Room at The Village Hall pub on Goldhill Common for this coming Thursday 3rd September from 8.00 p.m. and look forward to seeing anyone who would like to join us. As always, this is a "not a meeting" but an informal drink and chat about where we are, what's happening, what we would like to happen, and an opportunity to say hello to new faces and catch up with old ones. No need for prior notice, just turn up if you feel like it. Our next Working Day is Sunday 13th September. The plans for the day will as usual evolve to suit the numbers of volunteers stepping forward and the ideas/priorities decided on Thursday. One spot we will be working is between the Vic Wotton bridge and the Greyhound. Sandy Warren of the Village Environmental Appraisal Group has, after much effort, succeeded in obtaining all the permissions for us to remove the redundant chain-link fence next to the area where Ray and his team have started. Thanks to Gary at The Greyhound for his help with this. No doubt the Chalfont St Giles team will be wishing to press on downstream and I will check out whether we need to go back to Mill Farm again. Anyway, if you think you will be joining us on the 13th, please let me know. Recently we heard of someone who used to regularly canoe between Chalfont St Giles and St Peter and I also heard of a hatmakers (or was it baskets?) at Amersham who use to send their produce to London by starting off with it in a small barge down the Misbourne to the Colne and thence the canal at Denham. If anyone has similar anecdotes, better still pictures, it would be great to share them. That's all for now. ******************************************************************************** 5th August 2009 Your MRA needs you t was again good to meet with a few friends tonight (6 in total + 7 sent apologies) but, inevitably, part of the discussion revolved around how to engage the silent majority! Amongst other things it was suggested that people might like to have the ability to e-mail and/or phone each other and we started a base list. If you are happy to have your name, e-mail and/or phone number on a list which I will distribute as an Excel file to everyone who wants to be on it, please let me know and include your phone number as, in many cases, I only have the e-mail address. I know that there are already a couple of sub-lists in existence covering the CStP weekday team etc and maybe this is a way to bring together some more groupings who find their availability suits better than the "organised" work parties. While responding to the above, if not already done so, you could also let me know a)what you think about the idea of a social event b) if you expect to join the teams this weekend c) what would make MRA tick for you. Anyway, it was good to hear Roger talking positively about possible sources of funding for addressing "the leaky bits" as Sandy calls them. At present, numbers look very limited for this Saturday but Dave, Naomi and Di plus all comers - (only 4 of you so far) will kick off on Saturday 0930 by CSt P Community Centre and 1000 by CStG pond with a view to a) continuing the nettle clearance around the Vic Wotton bridge plus any other tidying b) continuing the gentle easing and forming a walking route downstream of CStG towards the field c) if sufficient resource, some fairly rough re-clearing of the channel downstream from Mill Lane ford. As always, if you would really prefer NOT to be on this circulation list, do let me know but, on the other hand, if you like to stay with us it would be good to know you are still there! .... and thanks to all those who have been in touch from time to time. Your support is much valued. I promise - no more mails for a couple of weeks at least! ******************************************************************************** 11 July 2009
We (a few) had a good chat at Village Hall on Thursday and it was good to know there is still plenty of enthusiasm for our efforts and to hear of the general murmur of support from visitors to the stand at Feast of St Peter. We must make sure we have a presence at the St Giles show on 5th September as well. Apart from continuing with general tidying and easing and also supporting the Chiltern Society drive towards earliest possible treatment of leaking sections, we thought that key areas for our attention in the next few months would be:
 
  • Around and downstream of the Vic Wooton Bridge, particularly working with the Village EA group to remove the obsolete fence asap
  • Work with C St P Village council and Haywardens towards removal/resiting of the old compound asap
  • Initiate an accurate and up to date bed level survey
  • General cleaning between C St P precinct and Chiltern Hill
  • Work with residents backing onto the river from Woodside Close through to the A413 and across the roundabout to ensure flow is nor restricted
  • Continue to ensure the Chalfont St Giles Mill Leat and flow through the stretch downstream of the ford is optimised

For tomorrow:

  • Chalfont St Peter team to convene 10.00 a.m at Community Centre – probably one cohort to then despatch to Chiltern Hill
  • Chalfont St Giles team (both of you at present!!) to convene 10.00 a.m. by Stone Bridge – detail as my separate note to Karoline.

Further discussion with Roger Lerry of Chiltern Society this morning: he continues to be very optimistic that we have a significant movement forward towards the planned bed improvements.  

 
Best wishes
 ********************************************************************************

04 July 2009   
 
Just back from holiday and still far from caught up with myself so apologies for late note.
 
While flow in Chalfont St Peter has ceased, it is really good to see it continuing through Chalfont St Giles and well into the fields beyond.  Clearly this is “perched flow” fed from the upper reaches and, I like to think, has been helped by our work on the Mill Leat and downstream to and through the village.
 
Great news then that, just this week, Roger Lerry received strong support from Cheryl Gillan, our MP, in a meeting at the Houses of Parliament to present the Chiltern Society proposals.  I understand that a key factor in the success of these discussions was the depth of local support and existence of a community group – aka MRA!
 
Special mention to Ray Randle and the “weekday” team for their sterling effort a couple of weeks back and to Andrew Wilson and supporters for providing our presence at Chalfont St Peter Feast Day – see photo attached with John Norris, Andrew Wilson & display
 
In my diary it says 12th July – MRA Work Party?  What about yours?  Given the depth of overgrowth and lack of water at Chalfont St Peter, the obvious tasks are a) a quick litter pick and debris removal upstream of the Greyhound and b) a first hit at the stretch downstream of the shopping centre.  At Chalfont Gilles, I suggest a refresh past the farm downstream of Mill Lane, any tidying through the village and perhaps some channel clearance downstream of the Church Bridge.   Please let me know asap if you expect to join us for any of the above – it is a busy time of year and if no-one is available, we might cancel this time.  (I’ll send another note on Friday evening).      
 
Finally, I look forward to catching up with some of “the regulars” and maybe meeting some new hands in The Jolly Farmer Room at the Village Hall from 08.00 this Thursday.
 
Best wishes

********************************************************************************
31 May 2009
The walk the other day with Allen Beachey of the Chiltern Conservation Board was interesting and blessed with good weather.  It was good to meet with people who are working with similar enthusiasm to our own on the Chess and Bulbourne, to name but two. Highlights included a grey wagtail perched in dappled sunlight on a small log in some fast flowing water.
I was delighted to return home that evening to receive a copy of the following which some of you may already have seen on the Chalfont St Gilles blog:
10  May   As a flyfisher and conservationist I have been noting the fish now resident in the stretch of water between the pond and the churchyard bridge.Rainbow Trout all witnessed and shown to schoolchildren and their parents. 12'' fish badly infested with parasites. 10'' fish and 8'' fish both in good condition. A small shoal of 1 year old fry resident by the churchyard bridge. The 3 large rainbows could be escapees from Shardeloes.
30 April   Well done to those volunteers who have worked so hard to clean up the Misbourne. I stopped on the foot path bridge (behind the church yard) this morning and looked in the river, hoping to see some signs of wild life in the water. I could not believe it, when I spotted a 30cm plus fish, almost motionless, swimming against the current. I am not an expert on fish, but I have referred to the internet and I think it was a river trout. I am sure that all of those involved in the clean up will be pleased to hear this great news.”
As you know, our next organised day is next Sunday 7th June.  Chalfont St Peter team morning session will meet 09.30 by Community Centre with the aims of  a) easing a clear channel through the weedgrowth from tennis courts through to Greyhound, including backstream b) clearing short sections of bank and river to create attractive glimpses of the river c) specific clearing by Community Centre etc.Chalfont St Giles team will meet 10.00 in usual spot by Stone Bridge with general plan to work downstream as required.Chalfont St Peter afternoon session will meet 2.00 by Community Centre and carry on where the morning left off! 4.      Many people have asked for dates in advance so please note the following:·        Sunday 12 July·        Saturday 08 August·        Sunday 13 September·        Saturday 17 October 5.      Everyone who responded to my “thoughts for the future” musings in the last note supported the idea of more frequent events in order to keep making steady progress and to give more chance of a date that works for them on whatever cycle they wish.  That’s great, but what I need now is for someone/several people to grab a date not listed above and let me know they would like to have an event then. We would publish in the usual way, provide tools, kit etc but Cheryll and I would probably not be there.  6.      Ray Randle has an occasional mid-week team and if that suits you, please let me know and I will pass on details. 7.      27th June is Chalfont St Peter Feast Day with all sorts of things happening on Goldhill Common.  Cheryll and I will be on holiday but the plan is to have a small Misbourne River Action stand – (e.g. a small gazebo + table + flyers + some photos).  Please let me know if you could help with a little time on the day – shall we say 40minute stints? – explaining MRA and encouraging new supporters. 8.      I’m delighted to advise that our new recruits this month includes The Greyhound pub and we look forward to working with them to try and maintain one of the most difficult yet public stretches of the river to the benefit of all.

Enough for now – hope to see you next Sunday. 
6th January 2009
As we swing into 2009, I thought you might be interested in an update of our activities
to date and plans for the Year ahead.
 
Last year, as you probably know, working with the Village Environmental Group and BCTV, we
participated in the two "de-clutter days", painted the bridge over the river by the Community
Centre and opened up the spring-fed backstream by the allotments. This has been flowing well for
several weeks now.
 
In 2008, we also gathered a lot of support and goodwill. The Parish Council have kindly paid for a
Group Activities Insurance for us through BCTV and have reserved a small sum for additional
tools and expenses in the future. The Chiltern Society River Group, chaired by Roger Lerry, is
very excited about our ambitions and this is leading to great support behind the scenes in
discussion with 3rd parties. We have also researched various technical options and established
contact with a couple of helpful contractors.
 
This last weekend, a small reconnaissance group walked from Chalfont St Peter to Misbourne Farm
(just short of the Ivy House pub on the way to Amersham) where the river is flowing strongly. As
predicted by John Norris, it is quite clear where the water is disappearing into the ground over
a short section downstream of the farm and upstream of Mill Lane. We believe that attention to
this would dramatically improve the flow and associated environmental appeal and diversity along
the whole valley through Chalfont St Giles and Peter. We lunched at Merlin’s Cave with much
optimism that the problem is indeed manageable and pleased with the sacks of rubbish we had
collected along the way. Meetings with 3rd parties, including Chalfont St Giles PC are
anticipated in the next couple of weeks and I hope to be able to report in more detail shortly.
 
Meanwhile, we are working towards establishing a simple web-site and still hope to have an exhibit
in the library before too long. Early February we hope to have a day both clearing rubbish and
easing the channel at selected points between the tennis courts and The Greyhound. You may have
noticed that the springs in the field near the tennis court are currently showing well
 
Our numbers grow steadily with this note going out to some 20 households and many others having
expressed good intent but not yet sent me their e-mail addresses. Given the various "flyers" in
shops in the village and some media coverage, it is surprising that the majority of the parish
haven't heard of us at all - Please tell your friends/neighbours and give my address to any who
are interested (or who may have a different view)
 
Best wishes