25 CCF RN cadets visited the Chess Valley on Last Friday's Field day to carry out river conservation work on behalf of a Christian charity called Restore Hope. They were joined by two members of the River Chess Association, Paul Jennings and Scott Horton who helped to direct operations.
The Chess rises in Chesham and flows 10 miles south into Rickmansworth where it joins The Gade and The Colne (hence The Three Valleys). Fed from a chalk aquifer, the water quality is superb and was once the home of a thriving watercress industry. It is now a haven for wildlife, particularly water voles which have really started to increase their range on account of the bankside conservation work that we were involved in today.
Group 1 worked on removing a huge stand of laurel, which was then dragged to a bonfire.
Group 2 coppiced hazel. The resulting hazel wands will be used by primary school groups who use the Restore Hope facility for Memory Days: working in teams to make ‘dens.’ Any hazel that was overhanging the Chess was coppiced to allow more light to enter the water, which led to increased reed growth and, consequently, excellent water vole habitat.
Group 3 worked to remove a stand of willow trees.
The boys worked tirelessly throughout the day, pausing momentarily every hour to ‘re-fuel.’ They made an extremely favourable impression and we have been invited back whenever we are next available.
Paul Jennings is going to put us in touch with one of his contacts who has been monitoring The Chess, collecting data. There are plenty of biological, geographical and ecological opportunities to be explored at this site.