Milton Keynes branch of Inland Waterways Association host Autumn clean-up of Grand Union Canal

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Students and Naval Cadets joined volunteers from the Milton Keynes Branch of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) last week, for their Autumn Cleanup of the Grand Union Canal.

On this occasion, they covered the stretch from Fenny Stratford, through Linslade, to Grove Lock, south of Leighton Buzzard. Wyvern Shipping Co Ltd provided sponsorship and support, and the Canal & River Trust (CRT) gave support and loan of equipment.

As usual, walkers scoured the towpath and hedges for litter, while volunteers working from a shallow-draught “pan” cleared the non-towpath side of the canal. Submerged rubbish in the centre of the canal was grappled by volunteers working from a “hopper” (a large workboat with an open hold). A Canal & River Trust dredger accompanied the convoy, helping to retrieve the heaviest submerged items. Other Trust staff joined in to help on both days.

Among the items recovered were bicycles, motorbike frames, tyres, a tape-recorder, a laptop PC, a mattress, several chairs, duvets, blankets and pieces of carpet, a pushchair, a coal stove, a fridge complete with food jars and packets, and a dolls’ house in good condition, now destined for a volunteer’s niece! As always, several supermarket trolleys were dragged from the canal, most of these near Leighton Buzzard’s canal bridge. An estimated total of around six tonnes of rubbish was collected, and this will be disposed of by Canal & River Trust’s contractors.

On the Friday, students from the University of Northampton came to help. Among them were art students on the lookout for items of rubbish to use in an artwork. They selected and tagged several items; these will be separated from the other rubbish, cleansed, and passed on to them.

On Saturday, 10 Cadets from Training Ship Ocean, Naval Cadets Corps in Leighton Buzzard, gave valuable help in litter-picking

Lieutenant Haley said: “It was good to hear some very positive comments from members of the public as the Cadets moved along the towpath, which always helps everyone to understand the value of what they do.”

Also present on Saturday was Jacqui Flint, Volunteer Development Co-ordinator, Canal & River Trust. She said “Many thanks to the IWA MK Branch for organising another successful autumn cleanup. The huge amount of rubbish and shopping trolleys taken out of the canal and along the towpath shows how important this event is to maintain and enhance our waterways for both boaters and towpath users. A big thank you to the volunteers from all the different groups who helped out over the two days.”

IWA Milton Keynes Branch will stage its next Canal Cleanup through Milton Keynes in Spring 2017.