Today, we went along to meet and do some volunteer activity with the Friends of The Blue Loop.
The “Friends of the Blue Loop” is a voluntary
group made up of members of the local community. Their volunteer sessions support people in gaining valuable work experience and developing new skills, which enable them to look after the wildlife and habitats of the Blue Loop. The group works with the RSC and Canal & River Trust to run volunteer sessions on a Wednesday from 10.30am-1.30pm. The location of these varies as the group covers the whole of the Blue Loop.
For more info visit their website
Dredge, Clean, Talk, Pick, Collect, Bash
For more than 5 years there's been a group of volunteers working to maintain, clean and conserve these adjacent waterways in Sheffield's mid and east city. It was clear from the beginning that, individually, the group came from differing backgrounds - and came together each wednesday for differing reasons - some interested in conservation of site, others for exercise and to get out - and for social contact.
The section of the Don's riverbank being worked on today was lined with the group's main concern - Himalayan Balsam - an increasingly common invasive waterside presence. And the associated activity, which we've since realised is a "thing" in natural conservation, is to "Bash the Balsam" - or to pull of much of it up by its shallow roots, without exploding its seed heads (which can number 200 for each head, and shoot new seeds upto 7 metres away).
In truth it seemed a touch counter-intuitive for us, as only a few days previously, the same plant had helped sustain us on our walk over the Peaks.
One person's invasion is another's opportunity?
We're back this week to do some more volunteering, to find out more from the group's members about their individual motivations, and to do the 8-mile circular walk.