Ralph helping to repair a leaking aqueduct

2008

My first canal camp was spent a few metres from an elevated section of the M4, helping to repair a leaking aqueduct. I also laid my first-ever bricks...all four of them! It doesn't sound very exciting, but it was, and I was hooked! A big thank you to Rob Daffern for encouraging my new enthusiasm, and for showing me what good leadership is like.

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Ralph and the results of his hard work

2009

On a stretch of canal west of Cwmbran, I helped clear vegetation, dig out a blocked bywash channel and repoint a retaining wall.

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Ralph and the building foundation he worked on

2011

At Drapers Lock, we learned how to use lime mortar to repoint the stonework of both an overbridge and the lock chamber. I also met Ayushi, who was to become my cook and Assistant Leader on some of the camps I later led.

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Ralph using a wheelbarrow as a chair

2012

In 2012 I stayed for two camps, acting as Assistant Leader on the first. It was to be a wet couple of weeks, but we survived and did some splendid work. We also spent several days commuting westwards to lend a hand to local volunteers restoring the Swansea Canal

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Ralph and the 2013 gang

2013

I led a canal camp for the first time, with Katie as my Assistant. We demolished a "bullnose" and disturbed a wasp nest. We also hacked at vegetation, moved tonnes of stone and constructed a weir.

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Ralph and the 2014 gang

2014

There was only one camp, which I led with Ayushi as my Assistant, on the Mon&Brec in 2014. We carried on rebuilding the bullnose, as well as all the usual vegetation hacking and repointing.

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Ralph at the bottom of a lock

2015

Another double camp year, with me leading the first week, again with Ayushi as Assistant. We worked mostly below Shop Lock, achieving some great work.

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Ralph doing some community archaeology

2016

A rather different couple of camps. This year we were focused on what lies beside the canal, creating pathways for what will become a picnic site. We also carried out a little archaeology.

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General view of archaeological excavation

2017

Archaeology at Shop Lock: we excavated about two-thirds of the lock-keeper's cottage.

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Swansea Canal 2015

I led a camp on this fast-flowing canal.

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Stover Canal 2016

I led a camp on a very different canal, this time in Devon, and with a granite tramway!

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Ty Coch 2018

What's planned for August 2018!

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