18 June 2019

Families looked at the heritage site and structures by the canal at Alton in the Churnet Valley as part of the first Family Camp of 2019. The Uttoxeter Canal was built in 1811 but closed in 1849 and has been derelict ever since. The young volunteers explored the remains of an old spill weir, lock and bridge. They discovered a previously undocumented section of stonework.

Helen Gardner, Family Camp Volunteer Leader, said, “It was lovely to see both the youngsters and adults getting stuck into the excavation work with so much enthusiasm.  We weren’t sure exactly what we would find, which really added to the sense of discovery.  We documented everything and provided all the information to the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust.”

The volunteer families, included eight young people aged between 8 and 14 years old, and three generations of one family. Volunteers learned about heritage recording techniques and uncovered historic stonework. The families also helped to clear weeds and vegetation and learnt how to help control the spread of the invasive plant ‘Himalayan balsam’.  The plant causes damage to canal and river banks. They also developed woodworking skills when they made “bee hotels” as habitats for insect life.

The Camp was supported by IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust.

Waterway Recovery Group Family Camps are a great way to introduce young people to volunteering whilst getting them out in the fresh air and meeting new people.

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