One of those things you cannot normally do! (10th August 2004)
Jim Rees reports on frolics in the river with QWAG
A recent walk organised by QWAG was, for some people, like a trip down memory lane. How long ago was it that they last splashed about in a stream in their wellies? The guess is that the answer, for most of them, would be when they were children. This trip, however, was a slightly more adult version where QWAG issued everyone with waders to cope with the deeper stretches of river and so the walk definitely fell into that interesting category of "Things you cannot normally do".
After "kitting up" and trying out their thigh boots the walkers entered the river at the appropriately named Quaggy Gardens (near the new Lewisham police station). They immediately disappeared into a short tunnel before emerging at the point where the Quaggy flows into the larger Ravensbourne river. Following the flow downstream and threading, at low level, between the Tesco store and its car park the walkers eventually found themselves at the platform, which is built out over the river, of the Elverson Road station of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). The walkers were in a high, vertical sided concrete channel with pipes, walkways and bridges crossing the watercourse but mostly high enough to avoid having to duck. Cascades of flowers and foliage hung down at various points adding colour and interest.
However, not far past the station, a dramatic transformation took place. After a bend in the river it seemed that the concrete environment had been left behind and that the walkers were now wading in a river in the countryside. They were now in a meandering stream with gravel underfoot, foliage covered earthen banks and a landscape of trees, bushes, paths and mown grass. Only the road and houses betrayed the fact that they were actually in a landscaped section of river flowing through Brookmill Park in South London!
Matthew Blumler, the founder of QWAG, who accompanied the 35 or so walkers, stopped every so often to explain the work of the organization and how it related to the sights they were seeing. He gave an interesting insight into the latest flood control theories (the work in Brookmill Park being an example) and how QWAG worked with many government organizations to raise the general public awareness of rivers as exciting visual and recreational amenities. He explained that removing the old concrete channel environments and replacing them with natural meandering streams to form an enlarged flood plain is the current method favoured for flood control.
Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the experience and many people signed on as members !