Hate Hogweed 26th April 2014

A team of 7 Custodians went to the area where the Mochdre Brook enters the Severn and tackled the dread Giant Hogweed again.  This is the site that we have visited regularly and believe that we are making a difference but we can still find plenty of Giants to slay every time we go there.  It is a lovely place to be anyway, especially when the weather is kind as it was this morning.  Thanks to all those who volunteered.

Hate Hogweed 26 4 2014 sm

Tree planting at Aberbechan

Today we completed the tree planting at Pant Farm, Aberbechan started at a previous session by volunteers.  This was organised by Severn Rivers Trust with trees from the Woodland Trust and is intended to act as a wildlife haven and protect the banks of the brook.  At today’s event were Lisa Barlow and Peter Powell of the Severn Rivers Trust and Judi Deakin and Mike Davies from the Severn River Custodians.  The previous planting was by Lisa, Judi and Liz Hinkley, Custodian.  A total of about 300 trees have been planting, various varieties of willow and thorn, and each tree is protected with plastic collars, as can be seen in the following photos.

Judi, Peter and Lisa

Judi, Peter and Lisa

Judi, Peter and Lisa

Judi, Peter and Lisa

Trees planted alongside brook

Trees planted alongside brook


Dates for your diaries

We now have some important dates.  The Newtown Carnival will be on 14th June, 2014.  The Food and Drink Festival will be on the 6th and 7th of September, 2014 and there is a meeting on 14th April to discuss ideas for the Food Festival.  This will be in the Council Chambers between 4 and 6 pm, come if you can.  If you can’t come to this meeting but have some suggestions, please let me have them.

The Custodians plan to participate in both the Carnival and the Food Festival and will have a stall at each event, maybe with some river activities.  Plan to take part and look out for meetings prior to these important events.

Severn Uplands Partnership Workshop

This received from Mike Morris, Severn Rivers Trust:


The Severn Uplands Partnership is hosting a public workshop about the Severn Uplands Catchment. Do you live, work or play within the area in the map attached? Come and have your say about how we manage it, play in it, and live in it. 

The discussions will influence the Severn from its source on Pumlumon down to Shrewsbury and all the rivers that flow into it in Wales such as the Afon Vyrnwy, Afon Rhiew, Afon Tanat and Afon Mule and rivers in England such as the Rea Brook and its tributaries.

The event will be held on Wednesday 12th March at  Welshpool Livestock Market,  Buttington Cross, Welshpool, SY21 8SR

 From 10am to 3pm

Tea and Coffee and lunch will be provided 

We want to explore how we can work together locally to better understand:

Why is the Severn Uplands important for wildlife, people and the local economy?
What can be improved to benefit local people, visitors, wildlife, water and business?
What can we do together to make the Severn Uplands better?

The workshop is the ideal way to get your views across to decision makers to influence future plans, in particular the forthcoming River Basin Management Plan, about how we manage the entire catchment to the benefit of everyone.

Do you have an interest in flooding, water quality, angling, farming, walking, photography, art, canoeing, wildlife, tourism, forestry, planning, green infrastructure, climate change, education, the great outdoors or anything else? Then your say is important. Please pass this invitation to anyone who might be interested. Let you neighbours, colleagues and friends know.

Bird and Bat Boxes

We have just heard that Andy Dodgson, Outdoor Recreation, Powys County Council is available to meet with us tomorrow (Friday) afternoon to discuss the location of these boxes.  We don’t yet know where or when but probably in the area of Dolerw Park.  This is very short notice but if any of would like to be involved and are available please let me know asap and I’ll let you know details once I get them from Andy.


Since you haven’t heard much from us lately you might think that we have gone into hibernation.  This is not so, although there is a lot less practical work going on at this time of year.  A few things have, however, been going on in the background so I thought was timely to bring you up to date.

  1. There is a planning application in by PCC relating to the Kirkhamstead Depot that might reduce or eliminate possible river contamination.  See post in this blog.
  2. Paula and I have presented a talk on the river, with emphasis on the Custodians, to the Newtown U3A,  the Montgomery Energy Group and tomorrow will talk to the Newtown Thursday Group.  This should help keep awareness of the group and, hopefully, lead to new members.
  3. I have been back in touch with PCC regarding permission to install bird and bat boxes on some of their trees along the river.  I’ll let you know when this activity can begin.
  4. Lisa of the Severn Rivers Trust organised a get together of river groups in Welshpool and this was well attended.

If I’ve missed any relevant activities please let me know or post to the blog.  Don’t forget, this blog is your easiest mechanism to post observation, comments relating to the river.  It would be nice to see more people involved in this resource.

Finally, belated New Years’ greetings to you all.

Changes to operation at PCC Kirkhamstead Depot

As most of you know we have been expressing concern about possible contamination of the river from activities at this PCC depot.  There is now a planning application for this depot which should eliminate this possibility once the depot staff have submitted and carried out specified work.  Thanks to Sue Newham for bringing this to our attention.  I will continue to monitor this application and report on progress but if you want to take a look the application ref is P/2013/1121 on the PCC web site planning page.

Bird and Bat Boxes

We now have the 6 bird and 4 bat boxes purchased from Pont Hafren and have been in touch with PCC for permission to install them on trees along the river.  Ideally we would like to install them on trees along both sides of the river bank in locations where they would be safe from vandals but visible to the general public. Andy Dodgson (Outdoor Recreation) and Steve Geary (Active and Healthy Lifestyle Services) have agreed in principle but want to meet to discuss details.

If any of you have any suggestions for suitable locations, where you have seen bats for example, please let me know.  Also let me know if you want to be involved in the installation or monitoring of these boxes.

Black Poplar tree

Black Poplar

Black Poplar

Paul Mounsey recently asked me whether the Black Poplar tree in Gravel car park was protected by a tree preservation order (TPO).  It is not.

The tree in question is an ancient Black Poplar, located at British national grid coordinates of the tree: SO 11067 91537.  This tree, apart from being extremely rare (we understand that the nearest other specimen is in Somerset) and very old, is iconic in Newtown since it was ‘moved’ from one bank of the River Severn to the other when the river was moved for flood defence purposes.  Some years ago a large part of the tree was removed apparently without much, if any, consultation and we should like to ensure that any future work is carefully considered.  The tree is currently being crowded with elder trees and choked with ivy so presumably some work is likely in the near future.

On behalf of the River Severn Custodians I requested that a TPO be issued.

Since posting the above, the Planning Clerk of PCC came back to me to correct the information previously given.   This Black Poplar Tree has got a Tree Preservation Order on it, T P O number 113, it was given the order on the 7/12/2011,  so all’s well with the world.

Newtown Food Festival

RSC at Food Festival 2013The RSC stall at the Newtown Food Festival went well.  We had many visitors and were busy all day.

The wildlife competition to identify birds and plants attracted 38 entries, many of them with many correct answers.  Prizes of binoculars and a Badger video have been presented.  The videos of otters and kingfishers were viewed by many people, as was the DVD of 11 months of the river and the river fly larvae that were collected that morning.  Great interest was shown in the Himalayan Balsam and the fact that all parts of it are edible.

We displayed information about the various invasive species of plants and animals that infest the river.  Unfortunately, we were unable to catch a specimen of the American Signal Crayfish to show.

Two riverside walks took place and were enjoyed by groups of visitors who learned about the flora and fauna along the river.

Thanks to all those who made this event such a success.

Riverfly larvae

Paula and I did a very interesting one day training in catching and identifying river fly larvae.  It was held at the visitor centre at Lake Vyrnwy and included classroom and in river training.  We were also provided with all the necessary equipment.

We are now fully trained and registered with the bodies monitoring larvae in the rivers of the UK.  These data are collected nationally and are used to monitor the health of the rivers.  We have to test the same location in the river at Newtown, preferably every month and report our findings.  We will also record them on our web site as part of the Custodians on-going monitoring of the river.so changes in the river.  If anyone is interested in taking part in this monitoring, please let us know.

Clematis spotted by Joan

I am unable to ‘blog in’ so I am giving up! frustration is not the word!! Has anybody noticed the pretty little clematis that is on the river bank as you drop down from Mike and Paula’s place. It arrived there 3 years ago and has been spreading each year. I was very concerned when ‘they’ cleared the pathway but being very hardy the roots would have stood up to any amount of pruning. Blogging out! Joan A.

Clematis by river

Still more hogweed

This morning, Joan Avery and I, tackled quite  a long stretch of the left bank of the river around Milford Hall at the invitation of Sally Rackham.  Many of the flowering monsters were growing right on the edge of the river and could only be reached by wading along the river.  Luckily the river is still low enough for this in spite of more water flowing now than last week.  I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever do more than a containment action, still, it is satisfying to see them topple.

Hogweed away from home

I have just had a very enjoyable day coaching into Chester and enjoying a delicious lunch on a boat sailing down the canal. I was shocked to see so many trees being allowed to grow on the walls of the canal and one area where Japanese knotweed was rampant. That had already started to destroy the wall again but the worst shock was coming across our Giant Hogweed, A patch about 20 feet in length by 8-10feet from the wall to the canal edge with at least 10 giant specimens in full bloom. On talking to the ‘skipper’ about them he said he knew how lethal they were and had seen first hand how 2 lads he knew were scarred by them.
But he hadn’t thought to notify the authorities about this patch!!!
I fail to understand some people. Anyway, he had the decency to find out the telephone number for me to report it. I will let you know if I get any response.
You will probably say, don’t get involved outside ‘our patch’ but to be honest, I don’t think any of our members could ignore it. It was horrendous!
Joan Avery

Posted on behalf of Joan

More Hogweed

This morning John Wigley and I tackled some of the Giant Hogweed between Cambrian Bridge and Longbridge.  There were a few in difficult location, including a flowering monster on the left bank reached by wading across the river.  Good job the water level is low.  Joan Avery has reported another couple upstream from Dolerw Bridge.  We’ll try to tackle those in the next few days.

Updated River Walk

The Walking Newtown group has now updated the route and map for the river walk to include the improvements made to the route near Castell y Dail.  You can find it on the activities page of the River Severn Custodians at  http://www.riverseverncustodians.co.uk/riverwalk.html

This is a delightful circular walk starting out along the river to the Mochdre Brook.  If you are lucky, you may see otters, and a variety of birds, trees and plants (hopefully not including the Giant Hogweed).

Give it a try and post your opinions or comments here.

Hate hogweed event 6th July 2013

On a hot and sunny Saturday a team of Custodians tackled the on-going problem of Giant Hogweed at Vaynor near where the Mochdre Brook joins the river.  Many of these were quite small re-growths, with a few large, mature plants.  The general opinion is that we are making progress here and should keep an eye on the area and return when necessary for another assault.  Many thanks to the members that joined us in this attack.