The combination of a large turnout of volunteers and good weather permitted substantial progress to be made at both the Redwith and Pryces Bridge sites. The destructive search, the first major task of the Phase 1B work, was completed, two newt ponds lined, and work on the Phase 1A channel pushed on.
The imperative over the weekend was to complete the destructive search of Phase 1B and early arriving volunteers on Friday were pitched straight into this. Guided by our resident CRT ecologist the sequence of searching the ground for newts or other creatures followed by strimming and clearing the vegetation continued all day. A number of volunteers had the thankless task of raking up and carting away the cut vegetation. However all concerned stuck at it and by the end of the weekend the job was done. Also as part of the clearance process the drift fences and small bushes were removed. The next stage of work in this section will be the stripping of the topsoil and carting it to the Redwith newt ponds site, although the timing of this task is dependent on the harvesting of a crop in an intermediate field.
The other major job on Friday was yet more work on the two hitherto leaking newt ponds. This time, however, it was not a case of re-puddling the troublesome clay liner but rather replacing this with the lining material used in the channel. It is a pleasure to report that the two ponds now hold water, making five finished ponds in total. Three more ponds are scheduled to be dug next work party. These, complete with their associated terrestrial habitats, are a prerequisite for the submission of the next newt licence application which, if successful, would permit restoration all the way to Crickheath.
The Saturday morning concrete pour this month placed 3 cubic metres in formwork up the towpath slope. Three cubic metres weighs about 7.5 tonnes and the process of transporting, placing and compacting involving nearly all of the volunteers was very hard work. After an hour and a half of this the morning tea break lasted a bit longer than normal!
One of the tasks on Sunday was work on clearing away the section of experimental lining which was installed some years ago in the Phase 1B channel. Unfortunately both the lining material and the overburden system used are incompatible with the current CRT design. About a thousand blocks were removed from the channel, all of which will be stored and reused. Shaping of the Phase 1A channel continued. This work involved filling in the old channel access and creation of a new one. By the end of Sunday all but a few metres of the offside of the channel was shaped and stabilised with cement.
A most welcome site visitor during the weekend was Chris Mark Smith of CMS Video. He filmed much of the site and interviewed several volunteers with a view to producing a record of the restoration. Two images taken from a drone during his visit give a much better idea of the size of the site than those taken on terra-firma.