Central Drainage Ditch

The 450 metre long Central Drainage Ditch conducts overflow through the South Riverside Pasture to the River Stour; it drains the Flooded Wood Pasture, the Middle Wood, the Rhombus Field, the Orchid Field, and the Riverside Pasture into the River Stour. The ditch is clogged with silt and vegetation and, although still working, I’m wondering if I can make it more wildlife friendly. One option is to use an excavator at the end of the growing season to clean the ditch, which means more ground being ripped up by wheeled or tracked heavy equipment.


I have started manually removing silt and vegetation at position 2 along the drainage ditch, where there is a wooden plank weir. My plan is to clear a fifteen metre long by two to three metre wide ditch section upstream of this weir, to a centre depth of around 600mm.

Plank weir controlling water flow to South Pool

The downstream ditch to South Pool looks like this:

The downstream ditch to South Pool

Upstream from the plank weir looks like this:

Upstream of the plank weir
View upstream of the plank weir that I have started to clear

I remember clearing this ditch with our roving volunteers quite a few years ago. I jumped across the ditch and one of our current Reserves Officers, then an intern with Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, tried to make the leap, but fell spread-eagled into the water filled ditch.

With a little luck and fair weather, I will finish clearing Pool 2 before frogs start spawning. The other two ponds I will leave until the last quarter of this year.

Weir pool (2)
Plank weir pool

The clumps of reed grass growing in the ditch are very tenacious with their 600mm to 900mm long root systems, they don’t let go of the pond bottom easily.

11 Comments on “Central Drainage Ditch

  1. It must be difficult to get the balance right between clearing the ditch and causing damage with machinery. It seems like a lot of hard work for one person to do by hand. Would this be the sort of area that would benefit from beavers being reintroduced? It is not a good idea to jump over ditches if there is any self-doubt 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I imagine beavers causing havoc on Wilden Marsh and its surrounding areas if they were resident here. It’s relatively easy to control water levels in the Lower Stour Valley with ditches, pools and weirs. Beavers would totally disregard the rules and regulations, and would fell most of the trees without bothering to apply for a felling licence.

      Clearing the Central Drainage Ditch with hand tools, on my own, is an analogy of my life: it has a start, a finish, a variety of problems to solve on the way, and a lot of hard work in between. I consider hard work a privilege and not a chore – as long as I want to do the job. There is little difference between one step at a time and one clod at a time: both take me closer to the end. However, more importantly, I am starting work in the middle of the ditch so that no one can tell when I have finished the job. I’m too long in the tooth to start job at one end only to be forced into finishing at the other.

      Jumping a ditch can be considered a problem solving analogy. You have a choice: the short way over or the long way around. Both solutions can work, but the problem might be time sensitive. A person can fall flat on their face by adopting a fast high-risk strategy. On Wilden Marsh, though, a person can fall flat on their face whether they take the long or shot route to anywhere. So it’s best to take the chances, accept the risks, and make the most of the opportunities life throws up.

      I’m digging too deep here!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Water Voles on Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve | The Wilden Marsh Blog

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