Willow Spiling: a fantastic natural and sustainable way to tackle the problems of river bank erosion. The Friends of Almondell & Calderwood Country Park were concerned about erosion endangering the integrity of the riverside path in 3 different places. The Riverlife Project not only provided the solution but also the funding and the expertise to engage our volunteer group in how to make a willow spil.
It all sounded so simple to 18 willing volunteers on a sunny spring day, sharpen 50 or 60 willow posts with a billhook, hammer them in more than ½ a metre into the ground every ½ metre then weave thinner branches of willow tightly between the post until the desired height is achieved. Job done !! Not quite, then came the task of backfilling, in short, wheelbarrowing soil and stones into the gap between the willow barrier and the eroded bank, now we really understood the importance of making that gap as small as possible.
Over the summer we have already seen the willow sprout new life from the posts and the thinner weave, with the new roots digging into the bank it will soon stabilise, allowing the park visitors and their dogs to continue to get access to the river without threatening the longevity of the path. The Friends group had a great time creating the natural barrier and talking to our visitors about what we were doing and why – all agreed it was a fantastic solution to a difficult problem.
Stuart Appleyard (Friends of Almondell and Calderwood Country Park)