2023 – September Sallies

You already know that this year, to date, we have had a driest February, a wettest March, a hottest September and all manner of ups and downs in between.  Overall, this has given one of the wettest 12 months in the past 30 years but distinctly average in the past three months.  Some will have memories of ruined plans for holidays or family days out, while others struck lucky: I hope the summer has been kind to you.  Anyway, we are left with groundwater levels comfortably above average and good flows from Chiltern Hospital to Chalfont St Giles (but disappointingly little up at Missenden Abbey or a mile or so downstream of Chalfont St Giles).

Work parties through Old Amersham have cleared years of accumulated branches and debris providing a faster, narrower flow from St Mary’s church to half way along the Tesco store, and cleaned gravel is already showing.  Small trout have been spotted.  It’s not too late to join the work party due to complete this reach on this Saturday 16th.
Others have made good progress from Mill Lane, Chalfont St Giles with the first excursions since lockdown up the leat toward Misbourne Farm and down towards St Giles village.  These to be continued next Monday 18th September although it may need one more push to ensure a clear watercourse right through.
We are delighted that the Chiltern Society’s peripatetic volunteer workforce will be aiming to re-establish a clear waterway downstream of the Bottom House Farm Lane bridge next Tuesday.  We last cleared here way before the pandemic and HS2.  This short section provides a great example of what not to do with a chalk stream!  Upstream of the bridge, the flow is always bright and its width adjusts naturally to suit the volume of flow but, on the other side, the channel was dredged in the past and now silts up horribly and clogs with weed and debris, encouraging more water to seep away through the bed rather than flow on downstream.  If you would like to join the CS volunteers for this major exercise which could make a big difference, please see PDF details attached below and then email the organiser: johnchristensen.1803@gmail.com
So, its been a busy month and we still have planned opportunities to get stuck in on maybe one of:
  • This Saturday 16th at Old Amersham – contact me
  • Next Monday 18th at Chalfont St Giles – contact me
  • Next Tuesday 19th at Bottom House Farm – contact John Christensen.
With all that behind us, we have just one target for October and that is the fields below Chalfont St Giles where we hope to arrange with the landowner for a substantial effort on 7th October – looking forward to lots of volunteers for that one!
We enjoyed an excellent day at Chalfont St Giles Show hearing lots of enthusiasm for our work and attracting several new supporters.  Many thanks to Mike Lowings and Mel Barnet from our invertebrate monitoring team who provided the always popular aquaria of strange creatures from the river and fielded questions all day.  Thanks too to Trish Mallet from our northern (Great Missenden) enclave who attended the Colne Catchment conference this week helping fly the Misbourne flag and bed  “Mending the Misbourne” into the general conversation.  Much thought is being given within both Affinity Water and the Chiltern Chalk Streams Project to radical improvements to the Misbourne sub-catchment, and we look forward to some serious meetings in the near future.  The first in a series of articles regarding Misbourne appeared in the Chiltern magazine last month and another should make the Autumn Edition.
With so much, and more, going on, it’s always difficult to keep these notes reasonably brief.  If you’d like to know more, why not join us for a drink and a chat at our next “not-a-meeting” at The Greyhound from 7.15pm on Wednesday 11th October?  – or send me an email.  And, if not already done so, join the WhatsApp Group, which is going well and already has over 40 members – approaching 10% of our supporters network.