Volunteers lend a hand to give canal a facelift

Volunteers working at the Calder and Hebble navigation.
Volunteers working at the Calder and Hebble navigation.

Young volunteers are helping to restore the historic Calder and Hebble Navigation to its former glory.

The project, managed by the Canal and River Trust, is underway to restore canalside hedgerows along the canal.

It follows a nationwide survey last year to put a stop to a 50 per cent decline since the Second World War.

The 600-mile survey was made possible by £50,000 of funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery and was the biggest ever health check of the nation’s waterside hedgerows, so they could be improved as lifelines for wildlife.

Now, volunteers who are out of education and employment are gaining experience in countryside management under a three month work placement managed by Calderdale Council’s Grow Your Future team.

Volunteers receive intensive training and support, with the aim of securing employment at the end of their placements.

Lucy Dockray, volunteer coordinator for the Canal and River Trust said: “Once lost it takes years to re-establish a new hedge, but thanks to this support from the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, we’ll be able to run hedge laying and planting days with our volunteers along the region’s waterways and begin to reinvigorate our canalside hedgerows. Hedgerows are more than just important features in the landscape - they are lifelines for some of our most threatened wildlife.”

Many stretches of canalside hedgerow are more than 200 years old.

They would have been planted by 18th century canal builders to protect the towpath from cattle and other livestock.