2019 – Spring Notes

Many thanks for various enquiries about my health and the Misbourne – typically along the lines of “Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the Misbourne/Bob is”.

There was nothing of concern causing the gap since the last note but I try not to fill your inboxes when there is nothing to say. Now there are a few bits of news to pass on.

First, as you may recall, flow in 2018 was actually quite a bit better than 2017 when the bed was dry all the way up to Amersham Church by November. In 2018, we had water as far as Misbourne Farm (The Gorilla yard on the Amersham Road) from May but it continued to disappear for the rest of the year without reaching Mill Lane. To be more precise, for some months until just a couple of weeks ago, the lively little stream vanished into the ground nearly opposite the pumping station less than 100 metres from the ford. Regular volunteers will know we have often wondered about a link between the “wash-out” pipe, the proximity of the pumping station and the extreme bed leakage in this area. With just the fairly gentle winter recharge this year, “Mizzy” has at last managed to get past this hazard. It is already some 300 metres downstream of Mill Lane and making progress. Clearly, a small project to line just a hundred yards of the mill leat would appear likely to provide a quick win and increase the frequency of flow over the next kilometre into CStGiles. This might comprise either restoring the original “puddle clay” that may have been used, or as a trial for a modern, environmentally friendly solution using a Rawmat bentonite sandwich or similar deeply buried below the bed,

One project gathering momentum at present and likely to be included in the Water Management Plan for 2020 to 2025 is for improvements upstream of and around Quarrendon Mill. These improvements would certainly incorporate general work to naturalise the river between the Amersham by-pass and Quarrendon Mill – reducing tree cover, introducing meanders etc. They may probably also include diverting the upper quartile of this reach back into its original course through the water meadow, and possibly also a fish-pass of the sluice at the mill.

As we head towards the time of leafy trees and frequent lawn mowing, it is clear that, while better than 2017/18, the last winter’s recharge has still been weak. Many of us have received circulars drawing attention to the number of months with “below average rainfall” in the last year: any improvement in the flow appears due to its timing and characteristics rather than significant increase in quantity. Possibly, for this important reason, the upper winterbourne reaches upstream of Deep Mill Pond remain dry. Notably, there is no sign of springs in the grounds of Missenden Abbey. Consequently, while taking some comfort from the current situation below Amersham, we should probably expect another retreat before too long.

Nevertheless, we will be doing our best to encourage what we have and will have working parties on Saturday 13th April from 09.30 to 12.30 and on Weds 17th April from 10.00. Please let me know if you can join us for either or both and I will send “joining arrangements” nearer the time. The mill leat was in quite good condition last autumn but we’ll just check before moving on into the field upstream of CStGiles car park.

I hear that a resident of Great Missenden has done a lot of work to map the infestation of Himalayan Balsam that has established itself there and to galvanise support of landowners to allow its control. The Chiltern Conservation Board is going to be organising a programme of volunteer ‘Balsam Bash’ days to start removing it. These are likely to run over the summer, maybe at least one work party each month between May & October. Thames Water have offered a group of their staff members on 14th May, to help kick things off. If you would like to help with this work on 14th May, or to join on subsequent days, please let me know and I will pass your name forward when I know who the coordinator is to be.

We haven’t had a “not-a-meeting” for quite a while. (For the benefit of new supporters, we don’t have meetings, officers or other embellishments but occasionally a few of us get together in a pub for a chat – not necessarily about the Misbourne but generally so. These “not-a-meetings” provide an informal opportunity to discuss priorities for our activities and, importantly, to meet new members and share some of the issues affecting our river.) So, everyone welcome to join us in The Greyhound at Chalfont St Peter – probably the back area beside the dining area – on Thursday 11th April from 7.30 pm. There is no need to let us know you will be coming but it will be nice if someone shows up!

Finally, you may like to scan through Affinity Water’s draft revised Water Resources Management Plan at https://stakeholder.affinitywater.co.uk/have-your-say.aspx and make your comments. (Consultation closes 26th April).

Hoping to see you by or in the river soon

Best wishes


Bob Older
Tel: 01753 885131
Mob: 0781 651 4868
e-mail: bob.older@me.com

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