Dig Report

Wilts and Berks, December 2020

Safety fence installation near Wantage

A single day on site installing fencing near Wantage

5th December 2020

2020 has been a very frustrating year, with lockdown meaning we have been unable to hold any working parties since early March. There were tentative signs of a return in the Autumn, and many local canal societies have been able to get back to voluntary work, as they draw their volunteers from a relatively small geographical area. However as a visiting group drawing volunteers from across the country and staying in village halls, the risk has been too great. But the group was asked whether we could help out for a day in on the Wilts and Berks, where a wharf wall alongside a well used section of towpath near Wantage had started to collapse into the canal, opening up cracks and holes next to the path which would become a danger to walkers. After a few false starts we finally managed to organise this for early December…

Our task was to help the local volunteers install a post and rail fence along the length of the wharf wall, so armed with our post bonker, some hammers and a good number of nails, we got to work. By the end of the day the fence was complete. The work was challenging, more due to having to maintain distancing between volunteers to minimise the chances of Covid transmission than the nature of the work itself. It turned out attempting to wear face masks while operating the bonker single handed soon resulted in zero visibility through glasses, so masks were abandoned in favour of distancing as being the significantly lower immediate risk.

All in all it was a beautiful early winters day, and so good to be back outside doing something useful. It reminded us just how much we have missed regular working parties.

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