Ralph helping to repair a leaking aqueduct


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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Replacing a coping stone

Ty Coch 2018

More work on the lock keeper's cottage

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A final group photograph, the week 2 team

Ty Coch 2019

A final season of canal-side archaeology.

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