This was a very productive work party which made significant progress on both the channel and the towpath. Yet again we were treated to dry weather which greatly aided earthmoving – a feature of all of the weekend’s tasks. By the end of the three days the site was beginning to bear a passing resemblance to a canal once more!
Any work which involves excavation in the channel inevitably contains surprises. The first surprise (of the pleasant variety) came on arrival on Friday when it became apparent that no major pumping exercise was necessary, permitting work on the channel drain to start immediately. From that point onwards our luck varied. On the first day progress was slow due to a combination of poor ground (our old friend the waterlogged gravel again) and a machine breakdown. By the end of Friday the drain had been pushed on by fifteen metres or so.
Soon after the start of work on Saturday the ground conditions changed to stiff clay through which a trench could be dug quickly and accurately. So much so that 40 metres of channel was levelled, and the drain installed, during the day – a rate of progress far in excess of anything ever achieved before.
Any hopes of a repeat on Sunday morning were quickly extinguished when, with only 20 metres of channel to be worked on, water bearing gravel and running sand was hit again. This stuff turned out to be the worst that has been encountered since the Society started work at Redwith in 2008, making progress painfully slow. It was not until just before the end of work on Sunday afternoon that the drain finally reached its intended destination 195 metres from Pryces Bridge. This means that channel shaping can start at the next work party.
Work on the towpath on Friday extended over all three days. By close of play on Sunday the first 100 metres from Pryces Bridge was complete. It very much looks the part. Further work on the towpath awaits the completion of channel earthworks in the next few work parties. On the other side of the channel the towpath-like path on the top of the mooring/retaining wall was added, meaning that this structure is now complete.
A couple of volunteers had the exhausting task of strimming the vegetation growing alongside the newt fences both around our compound and at Crickheath. Repairs to the newt fences around the compound completed an excellent weekend’s work.
The news from Crickheath is that the newt trapping has only a few days to run. The construction contractors are still scheduled to start work in the next few weeks. Thus the enticing prospect of restoration work from both ends of the Pryces to Crickheath section should shortly be a reality!