Friday 14 July 2023

Glow worms on a Wiltshire canal

Before I moved onto the canal, I'd only ever seen two glow worms; once in deepest Herefordshire, as we walked home to our tents after an evening at the pub, during a stint as strawberry picker in my teens; and once in a Devon lane near Modbury, thirty years ago, again returning from a pub.

Along the Kennet and Avon canal, though, there's loads, and sometimes the towpath resembles a flare path, confusing the RAF transport planes who are constantly flitting about overhead on their way to and from Salisbury Plain, so that you may find a Hercules unexpectedly parked outside your boat at odd hours of the night.

The Canal and River Trust have made some effort to respond to local wildlife needs by adjusting the mowing schedule, and places with known glow worm populations are marked by posts, so that the contractors can avoid them. But it doesn't always work, and now and then the old fashioned scorched earth policy is enacted. Though in general, this year, the towpath has been left to run wild, which is very nice for the environment, but annoys people who like to have a manicured lawn to step out onto from their boats. Guess they'd better get used to it, though; money is tight, and it's cheaper to not mow than to mow.

This painting is another for the calendar, and is set at Widewater, near Wilcot, where the canal briefly becomes a lake, because the landowner wouldn't let the canal through her land unless they made it picturesque, and paid her £500 too.

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