Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal
In 2021 the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust, like a lot of other waterway restoration societies, found itself still operating with restricted working parties – keeping as safe as possible with sensible Covid restrictions. The AGM was again held by Zoom. Most planned promotional events went by the board, but H&GCT did attend the IWA Festival of Water at Worcester over the August Bank Holiday, and also held the annual Winter Fayre in Newent, which proved a great success. H&GCT walks leaflets were still popular, encouraging locals to enjoy the canal. It was heartening to see the sites being used for enjoyment and providing health benefits. A further walk has been developed. At the Over site, work continued towards the development of Mill Barn. The basin has been used by the fire service to practise its boat skills, by local scout and guide groups and now offers paddleboarding sessions through a third party.
The pub owned by the trust at Malswick, near Newent, has been let and now reopened, gaining lots of positive feedback from the locals, and has proved to be a way of attracting new volunteers. The extensive work behind the scenes continued on the planning application for a new stretch of canal at Malswick. This was finally approved in November 2021 and the trust is now finalising the plans for digging out 600m of canal in 2022, together with developing wetland and wildlife areas and a 1.2km circular walk. Discussion on the possible inclined plane at Newent continued; a scale model was produced engendering lots of talk and ideas.
In Herefordshire discussions have been taking place with the county council about the protected route through the city of Hereford. The development of a housing estate at Ledbury, north of the railway viaduct, will now include a rerouted section of canal from the Bromyard road to the viaduct. Other sites in Herefordshire continue to be improved including further opening up of the towpath. All sites were maintained and ideas for the future discussed.
H&GCT continues to focus on rebuilding a sustainable canal from Hereford to Gloucester, with the emphasis on ensuring there is a built-in income to keep the canal maintained once it is restored.