2022 – May Message

Waking up any morning, you can just about guarantee that the Misbourne will be flowing between Little Missenden and Amersham. More widely, residents of Great Missenden (upstream) and Chalfont St Giles (downstream) express disappointment on the occasions when they have no flow. But flow all the way between Chalfont St Giles and Chalfont Park is definitely cause for celebration. So, the little trickle the last couple of weeks has attracted much delight and positive comment as well as the usual questions.

With expert help, we have previously tried to answer some of the questions – see “The River Misbourne – Some questions answered” on our website. However, it is far from being the complete picture. For instance, why, in 2021, did the springs at the back of the football ground provide significant flow past The Greyhound some weeks before we had flow from the springs by the tennis courts and the gap at Cherry Acre closed later still – almost the complete reverse of this year. (Part answer is that last year what we call the “Lower River” was very strong – i.e. that which always flows from Chalfont Park to the Colne with a “winterbourne” section that can extend as far as Mill Lane (CStG) thus overlapping with the ”Upper River”.)

Yes, but why? The answer to that is NOT HS2, which now seems to have tunnelled safely under Chalfont St Giles at the greater depth selected in the light of doubts, including ours and, particularly the Chiltern Society and “Save St Giles” experts about the integrity of the chalk at the level previously mooted. More, I think, because of the differing rainfall patterns between the two years. See more figures on the website under “Quickview” and then make your prediction for the rest of the year.

Anyway, from the past few weeks, a couple of things remain clear.
1) Consistent flow between the Chalfonts, giving Chalfont St Peter the amenity and habitat enjoyed by St Giles, can only be achieved by lining a good portion of the reach. We need to work hard at generating the support of the public, politicians and authorities to this aim. Can you help?
2) Work to clear the watercourse through “perched” sections is essential to maximise the extent of flow and minimise losses into the ground.

Much appreciation is therefore due to those who, in recent months, have variously worked through the fields near Cherry Acre and further downstream through St Peter. Our WhatsApp group has been functioning well in both enabling ad hoc work groups and sharing observations of flow or unusual wildlife – messages even reaching The Antipodes! If you would like to join, please let me know and your mobile phone number.

Last year, at this time, groundwater levels were amongst the highest of the last 30 years whereas those at this 1st May were distinctly average reflecting several recent dry months. Keeping flow as long as possible will therefore need some work and while rather short notice, hopefully we can have a reasonable turn out for work parties on Sunday 29th May (from 1.30pm); Tuesday 31st May (10.00 am); and Saturday 11th June (10.00 am and possibly 2.00pm if some prefer)………. and, of course, keen WhatsAppers might get together at other times. Differing challenges will include the long neglected section from Mill Lane through to St Giles; St Giles Riverwalk (if not already cleared by the Parish Council’s volunteer force); and the nearest fields to St Peter. Please let me know if you can join us for any or all and make sure I have your shoe size for waders.

Chalfont St Peter Feast Day is 25th June and we will be having a pitch. It would be lovely if the invertebrate monitoring team could have a live, wet display as done before as it is a great crowd-puller and interesting for itself. Is anyone available to stand-in for Mel who has done so much previously and is unavailable? It will also be great to have others of you taking a turn for an hour, just to chat to people and explain what we are about. Thanks for offers to date: more please!

So, with all the above in mind, we will have a “not a meeting” – drink and a natter – at The Greyhound on Wednesday 8th June from 7.15pm. All welcome! – come and ask those questions and share your thoughts.

Finally, as ever this is all rather Chalfont centric! However, our website and interest covers the full length and it was a delight to have a letter recently from friends at Pipers Corner School (closest point to Misbourne is Missenden Abbey) who keep up with the river’s happenings following a talk there some time back. Observations, pictures and comments from them and all reaches are always appreciated.

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