This was the fourth work party in six weeks dedicated to clearance of the Phase 2 channel. Excellent progress has been made during that time and the site is beginning to bear a passing resemblance to a canal once more. Just about every volunteer on the books has contributed to this effort and, tired limbs notwithstanding, each took home the satisfaction of a job well done.
The major efforts during August were digging up the remaining tree stumps on the offside, and clearing vegetation and small bushes from the banks and channel in the remaining section of the channel at the Lloyd’s end of the site. This work occupied all three days, and by the end the section was devoid of arboreal encumbrances and 90% of the area had nowhere for newts to hide. Both of these tasks were supervised by CRT ecologists who work very much as part of the team. It is notable that so few newts have been found in the whole of Phase 2. It is thought to be a consequence of the demise of the two main breeding areas at Pryces Bridge and Crickheath. The three newts found this time were of course relocated to the ponds at Redwith.
The remaining area of channel to be stripped is in the very wet area around the fabled Hell Hole. The plan is that this task will be tackled in conjunction with treatment of the bed of the channel in a forthcoming work party.
Having dug up trees and vegetation the next problem was what to do with them. As much of the site strip material as possible was transported by power barrow and spread on the Phase 1 rip-rap. The whole of Phase 1 has now had this treatment. The remaining site strip material and the trees were carted to the Crickheath compound, one end of which is now home to two large piles of both.
The site strip will eventually be used on the Phase 2 banks. The trees however will have to go off site to landfill. Mindful of the potential large bill for landfill tax, volunteers set about burning as much as possible. The bonfire was something to behold and got rid of several tonnes of material.
The surveyors continued the task of establishing temporary bench marks for setting-out purposes in the Phase 2 channel. These could be used in anger as soon as the next work party. Last, and by no means least, the flower beds at Frankton continued to receive attention.
We have made a very visible start to work on Phase 2. It has been one hell of a six weeks and we will all be grateful for four weeks off!