The wardens undertake to walk beside the river four times a year, and to report on any problems that they see.
Problems with the condition of the Thames Path (signs, potholes, broken gates, etc) are reported to the National Trails Office. Fallen trees that might be blocking the river and sources of pollution to the river are reported to the Environment Agency.
Most wardens take a plastic bag with them to pick up litter on their walks. Some of the reaches are trouble free and stay in good repair - so the warden's report is simply to say that all is well. Some wardens like to tell us about the good things that they see on their reaches e.g. interesting birds or plants, improvements to the Thames Path, facilities for visitors or boats.
The warden duties are entirely voluntary, so we all act in our own ways. A few who live beside the river combine the wardenship with a daily walk. Others live at a distance from the river and being a warden is an additional reason for a riverside walk.
The work of the 55 or so Wardens has recently been highlighted by a letter from RTS Chairman, Peter Finch, to The Times in response to a feature which lamented the apparent lack of care for the Thames path:
"Sir, It is a shame that Richard Morrison's bare legs were stung (July 27) when walking the Thames Path, but the answer to his question "Where's the loving care?" is that, like the nettles, it is there in abundance.
Most of the land crossed by the Thames Path is privately owned, with a public right of way, and its upkeep is the responsibility of National Trails, working with the local highway authorities, rather than the Environment Agency as he suggests.
National Trails has a dedicated group of volunteers and the River Thames Society has a team of river wardens monitoring the path. However, their workload was increased by the wet weather, which allowed nettles to flourish and made it hard to keep up with mowing.
We would be happy to pass on information about volunteering along the Thames Path, and I suggest that next time Mr Morrison carries a stick to clear the nettles out of his way."
Litter Picking Round Up
Following on from another successful Thames 21 annual Deep Clean in February, in which RTS volunteers took part, we are pleased to be working with Thames 21 on an upriver Clean Up Campaign, launched in Reading during May 2011. The River Thames Society 'Tidy up the Thames' programme continues actively in the Oxford area also. Contact Dick Mayon-White (see bottom of this page) for details about these activities and how you can get involved to help clean up the beautiful River Thames.
Annual Wardens' Meeting, Maidenhead Rowing Club, 16th April 2011
The second annual meeting for wardens was a busy and interesting session. Click here to read the full report.
Vacant reaches for wardens
Currently, there are vacancies for Wardens in the following areas:
- Bell Weir - Old Windsor
- Hurley - Hambleden
- Clifton Hampden - Culham
- Bablockhythe - Northmoor
- Shifford - Rushey
- Rushey - Radcot
- Radcot - Grafton
- Grafton - Buscot
Other vacancies may arise and there are other ways of becoming involved in the Society's conservation projects, so please contact either Dick Mayon-White or Peter Finch, below, if you are interested in helping with this important work in your area.