Trimming The Towpath

Farming is about countryside husbandry as well as animal husbandry.
We farm over 500 acres. That includes a lot of river banks, streams, ponds and hedges which we are responsible for looking after. This week we have been doing some work on our river bank, coppicing back trees that might otherwise fall into the river. 100 years ago towpaths had no trees as horses walked the path towing boats along the river behind them. Saplings have since become established right on the edge of the bank (away from grazing cows). These trees grow up precariously close to the water. If we let them grow too large then the whole root ball and tree, or simply a large branch, can fall into the water. Either way, it blocks the river and it is our responsibility as the landowner to then remove it. It’s extremely dangerous work to attempt to cut up and remove a tree that is half-submerged in a fast-flowing river. Coppicing before they fall in is much safer. To minimise disruption to nature we do it at this time of year when there are no birds nesting. The trees will vigorously grow back at a safe low level.