The humble sluice gate doesn’t get a lot of attention – unless things go badly wrong. All managed water courses have sluice gates to control the flow, and the Gumstool Brook and its associated channels are no exception.
There is good news this winter. The sluice feeding Barton Mill Pound from the River Churn is open and water is flowing well along the Riverside Walk; excessive levels are prevented by the recently constructed overflow into the water meadow north of Riverside Walk. The Mill Pound and the channel past the outdoor swimming pool are now full, and consistent enough in level that they’re frequented by water voles and a kingfisher. What a delight it is to spot either of these wonderful creatures. Look out for moving, rustling leaves on the bank at dusk (water vole), or a flash of blue during the day (kingfisher).
There’s an important sluice gate from the stream past the swimming pool into the Gumstool Brook between the horse paddock and the back gardens of The Mead, and this remains closed. So despite wet weather and high water levels, the Gumstool Brook is lower than it would be if the sluice was open, and properties in and around the brook are protected from flooding. (Note: the Friends of the Gumstool Brook have no control over these sluice gates; they are managed by various authorities.)