VOLUNTEERS cleared a neglected section of canal during the festive season, bringing the full restoration of the waterway ever closer.

Forty volunteers from across the country participated in a residential canal camp, during which they worked on a section of the waterway near Whitminster.

The Waterways Recovery Group’s annual Christmas camp between Christmas and New Year saw the team hard at work, while most of us were tucking into turkey sandwiches and watching festive films on TV.

“We host a number of residential canal camps throughout the year, but the Christmas camp has a really special atmosphere,” said Stroud District Council’s Canal volunteer manager Jon Pontefract.

“The volunteers all worked incredibly hard to clear a number of fallen trees that had blocked the canal channel and cut back a large amount of overgrown vegetation.

"This means that we can now maintain it and make good progress on the next section of canal restoration, from Stonehouse to Saul.”

Stroud District Council has invested £3million in the restoration of the Stroudwater Canal.

The Heritage Lottery Fund recently awarded £842,000 development funding to continue work on the project, ahead of an application for a full grant of £9 million which will be made later this year.

This will see the canal between Stonehouse and Saul Junction restored, and will link the canal to the national inland waterways network for the first time since it was abandoned in 1954.

There are many ways to volunteer for the canal restoration project and jobs range from construction and technical to office and research.

For more information contact Jon Pontefract by email jon.pontefract@stroud.gov.uk or phone 01453 754287.

The next Waterway Recovery Group camps on the Cotswold Canals will be held April 19 to 27, followed by a two week long camp from August 3 to 17.

For more information visit: waterways.org.uk