February 2023 Crickheath South work party report

February 3-5

Another spectacularly productive work party. We have now settled in to our new compound at Crickheath, a wide variety of preparatory tasks were completed and we are now ready for plant operations to commence.

On another work party where we were blessed by favourable weather conditions, vegetation clearance continued apace. Bonfire work is always a popular activity in the colder months. By the end of the weekend, Phase 1B had been fully cleared and is now ready for stump removal and site strip. Vegetation clearance work also took place in Phase 2 at the south end of the site up to Schoolhouse Bridge. This has allowed us to extend detailed surveying of the channel dimensions right to its southern limit.

Clearance in Phase 2

Phase 1A by the wharf at the north end of the site has been previously cleared of most vegetation and, as is normal this time of year, had standing water in places due to raised ground water levels. However, this didn’t prevent a group of energetic volunteers working at ground level to the rear of the wharf. During the summer a number of coping stones will be removed to allow repairs to the wall beneath. Holes were dug in the ground behind the copings in readiness for removal.

On Saturday, another group of volunteers took the opportunity to complete a job required to make good works to the previous project, north of Crickheath Bridge. Over 700 hedging whips of mixed native species were planted on the off side bank along the field fence. This complemented similar hedge planting undertaken last winter on the towpath side.

Hedge planting – Crickheath North

Back in the compound, volunteers were able to relax at break times in their new surroundings. The welfare shelter has been extended, has a brand new tarpaulin roof, half-height walls constructed from repurposed newt fencing and, in case of inclement weather, removable window panels. It has been modestly described as ‘palatial’ (it’s all relative).

The new welfare shelter

We have been greatly encouraged by interest shown in the new project by local residents and the general public, possibly helped by the compound location adjacent to the towpath and by the village. Furthermore, we have welcomed a number of new volunteers so far this year including two further young people (accompanied by guardians) giving a volunteer age range spanning 67 years.

Phase 1B – Ready for stump removal

You can find an overview of the Crickheath South restoration project here.

Posted in Montgomery Canal, Restoration, Shropshire Union Canal Society, Work Party.

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