August 5-7 and 19-21
In a month in which all sorts of temperature records were broken, the society volunteers were fortunate to be on site on what turned out to be two of the cooler weekends. This enabled substantial progress to be made on lining operations, construction of the towpath and the much awaited start of physical work on Crickheath South.
The lining gang had generated a considerable momentum in recent work parties aided, in no small part, by the efforts of guest volunteers. On the first event of the month, and without any external help, the society volunteers kept up the good work in two locations. The first was adjacent to the oak tree and by the end of the first Friday, the ten metre gap between this year’s lining and that installed last year had gone. The result is that there is now continuous lining for 500m metres or so from Pyrces Bridge. This is quite a sight! During the rest of the first WP another 25 metres was lined and blocked in the remaining section of channel adjacent to the Crickheath clay dam. The second weekend achieved a more modest output because of reduced volunteer numbers (many sensible people are on holiday!) but by close of play the lining was within 25 metres of Crickheath.
The other major job during both weekends was the construction of the towpath. We had previously come up with a method of securing the towpath edge boards using concrete because the traditional method of using wooden pegs is a non-starter on banks made of compacted stone. The month’s output also demonstrated that construction using this system was quicker than the old method. The 120 metre section from Phase 1 to the oak tree is now finished, complete with soil, bar the application of a stone dust wearing course to the towpath surface.
The second weekend saw the start of the Crickheath South project. This will eventually extend the channel restoration from the end of our current site to Schoolhouse Bridge. For the time being, work is concentrating on establishing a work compound in a field just south of the hamlet. Over the three days, a large number of fence and gate posts were driven, dug, augured or otherwise persuaded into the parched rock hard ground. By the time of reading, the wire will also be on the posts thanks to our colleagues from TRAMPS (the Welshpool-based enhancement group). Further major work on the compound is planned next month.
Are we going to meet the October finishing target for the channel work? Well nothing happened this month to jeopardise this prospect but we have some way to go yet!