South Quay and Withy Pool restoration
Published: 24 October 2017
Significant conservation work on The Sharpham Trust’s South Quay has been completed.
And improvements to the Withy Pool beside the River Dart, mean that Sharpham House is once more reflected in the waters – like landscape designer Capability Brown intended.
These works have been funded through the Trust’s 10-year Higher Level Stewardship agri-environment agreement with Natural England.
The scheme has enabled £90,000-worth of works to take place on the Estate, including improvements to the sluice and dam by the pool, the planting of trees in Sharpham’s parkland and orchards, restoration of hedgerows, the repair of the stone river wall and the rebuilding of Sharpham’s South Quay.
Traditional stonemason Gary Grover spent most of a year working on the Withy Pool, causeway and South Quay.
“I’ve enjoyed working here, although it’s been hard with some late nights. And we had to do more than we expected,” said Gary, who shifted trailerloads of stone through Sharpham Vineyard to get to the site.
“It’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve had to do because of the tide and the techniques – on the Spring tide, the whole quay is covered!”
He worked on repairing the dam and the broken sluice to the reflecting pool. Previously, the causeway running between the River Dart and the pool was lower, and its busted hatch meant that the water in the pool was a brackish mixture of fresh and saline.
Now the repaired sluice means that water is let out but not in, which has changed the ecology of the pool, allowing for the re-establishment of appropriate plants and re-creating the original ecosystem.
Gary also rebuilt 100 metres of the river wall from beside the Bathing House, and he reconstructed South Quay inside and out, reinforcing it against the pressure of the tide.
During his time by the South Quay, Gary has witnessed a lot of wildlife, including some humans.
He’s seen seals, kingfishers, swans, egrets and even people mooring up in the middle of the main channel. “It’s been entertaining,” he said. “I’ve seen canoeists moor up in the channel, then miss the tide and have to wade though mud.”
“But it is a beautiful spot…especially when the fish are jumping”.