River Gipping Trust

In Touch Community News

This year River Gipping Trust volunteers have been busy reinstating around 3km of the riverside footpath alongside the River Gipping – The Ipswich to Stowmarket Navigation, and plan to reopen more next year. With the Trust’s new footbridge at Baylham now open to walkers, a permissive path has been created around 1km long retracing the original line of the towpath, lost to walkers around 100 years ago when the towpath bridge collapsed into the river. The current Gipping Valley River Path runs alongside the railway line around 500m away from the river with no views of the river. The official grand opening of the Footbridge which sits on restored 230-year-old brick abutments will be on Saturday, 20 May at 11am at Baylham.

Trust volunteers have also been busy restoring around 1km of the towpath alongside the river at Claydon/Great Blakenham. The current Gipping Valley River Path runs around 30m away from the river in this location with few, if any, views of the river in summer. Judging by the density of vegetation cleared, volunteers believe this riverside towpath has not been used for around 15 years. Further upstream, between Needham Market and Stowmarket, Trust volunteers have been clearing around 1km of vegetation between the footpath and the river to allow the footpath to migrate closer to the river, along the original towpath line, affording a far greater riverside walking experience. Over the past few years much of this footpath has been 3m away from the river, along a 2m high corridor of nettles in summer, often virtually impassable, with no river views.

As well as improving the riverside walking experience and offering better views of the river, having the footpath directly alongside the river eliminates the growth of Himalayan Balsam adjacent to the river bank, which is where the plant is most deadly, as it leaves the river banks vulnerable to serious erosion when it dies back over winter. This year Trust volunteers plan to keep the path between Paper Mill Lock and Badley Lock clear of vegetation with a once-per-month cut, enabling the path to be walked in shorts without being attacked by nettles and brambles. With sufficient volunteer resources, the plan is to expand this further up and downstream in 2024. The Trust has planted more than 300 trees recently alongside the sunny side of the river footpath which will give the river shade from the sun when mature (making over 1,000 trees planted over the last 3 years), more will be planted later this year.

Trust volunteers have recently found the remains of the 230-year-old Claydon Lock buried adjacent to the A14. This lock was lost some 40 years ago and was thought to have been buried under the road when built. The Trust is working with National Highways to investigate the feasibility of restoring the 1793 John Rennie designed brick lock. This is the only lock structure missing along the rivers 16 mile, 15 lock length with water flowing though all the other 14 lock structures.

The Trust has recently published a history book of the Gipping, titled ‘The Ipswich to Stowmarket Navigation – John Rennie’s First Canal Project’. Available to purchase from Dial Lane Books in Ipswich, Needham Market Post Office, The Food Museum at Stowmarket, and directly through eBay.

The Trust plan to keep the towpath clear once per month as follows:

First Wednesday of the month, start Claydon towards Paper Mill Lock 

Second Wednesday of the month start Claydon towards Baylham.

Third Wednesday of the month start Needham Lock towards Stowmarket, 

Fourth Wednesday of the month start Baylham towards Needham Market.

If there is a fifth Wednesday in the month it will be used to revisit worst areas found. 

RGT volunteers meet up every Wednesday along the Gipping and would love to welcome new volunteers, the more we have, the more we can achieve. If interested contact Ian Petchey at: restoration@rivergippingtrust.org.uk

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