Get set! After a highly productive work party we are now ready to start lining and blocking in Phase 1B.
In breezy, but mild and dry(!) weather, this work party achieved significant progress on all fronts. There were three main activities underway: channel profiling in Phase 1B, hedge laying and an assortment of tasks in the compound in readiness for the resumption of a favoured activity (after bonfires), namely lining and blocking the channel to achieve watertightness.
Hedge laying progresses apace. Since December, a total of 83 metres has been completed along the towpath under the watchful eye of Margaret. In addition to the previous site clearance, laying and brash disposal (bonfire!) activities, this time volunteers also applied a strong binding of hazel along the top of the hedge to complete the job. By allowing more light into the site, the hedge should now be able to bulk up. A few more hedging whips will be inserted next month where the hedge remains thin. The opportunity was also taken to clear scrub from the north section of Phase 2.
Tremendous progress has also been achieved to shape the channel in Phase 1B in preparation for lining and blocking. Over 50 metres is now complete and a further 100 metres is underway with just the bed of the channel and its transition to bottom of the banks to complete. Weather permitting, we are ready to start lining and blocking next month.
In order to do so, a large quantity of items will be delivered to the compound: building blocks and various liner materials. The blocks in particular are bulky – approximately 50 to 60 deliveries are expected – and the liners require a large flat area for measuring out and cutting to length. Therefore several activities were undertaken in the compound to ensure the available space is utilised as effectively as possible. In addition, bespoke equipment essential for a smooth and efficient block handling operation must be available. Thankfully Fred, the Society’s oldest volunteer, stepped up to the task. Putting one hand on a saw, the other on a screwdriver and ably assisted by apprentice Rob, he constructed a new and improved block delivery platform, fit for the future.