This work party was mainly concerned with trees. We planted some at Redwith and cut down a great many in the course of clearing the rest of the Phase 2 channel. In addition we had a very interesting trip to see the contractor’s work at Crickheath . Oh, and for the umpteenth work party in a row, we had good weather!
Work on clearing Phase 2B lasted all three days and included removal of bushes and trees in the channel and the cutting down of the remains of the erstwhile hedge on the towpath. The latter was, in truth, more a line of ivy clad spindly trees. The hope is that this coppicing process will lead to re-growth in the future. Three substantial trees which had grown in the old ditch of the offside of the channel were also felled and disposed of via two large bonfires. The channel and towpath are now clear of trees all the way from Pryces Bridge to the contractor’s site at Crickheath.
As a balance to all this tree destruction, two volunteers planted thirty assorted tree whips around the newt ponds at Redwith. Four putative small spinneys were created, and a number of individual oak trees planted round the site. These will we hope, in time, become an attractive feature.
The water test in Phase 1 has now started. Water is being pumped in 100mm depth increments and subsequent variations in the water level noted. It is evident that the channel is holding water but whether this is within prescribed CRT limits remains to be seen. When the test is finished the channel will remain full pending the transfer of the water to Crickheath for a similar test there.
On Friday morning we had a trip to the Crickheath site and were shown around by Land and Water staff. Both the scale and the quality of the work are to be much admired. There were some very envious glances from our volunteers at the big shiny machines which were much in evidence. We learned that the water main diversion is finished, piling complete and the ring beam and fenders about half finished. Work has yet to start on shaping and lining the bed of the channel. We also discussed the details of the interface to our section. We were particularly interested to see the heritage wharf which a number of volunteers present worked on a decade ago. Crickheath will be a very impressive, albeit it is to be hoped temporary, terminus for the canal.
The last three work parties have been very productive and, aided by the prolonged good weather, we have now finished all of the programmed clearance work on Phases 2A and 2B. Additionally because of the contractor’s work at Crickheath and the water test on Phase 1 we are presently unable to access these areas of the site. As a result there will be no February work party and the volunteers can take a well-earned rest.